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Headshot of Olivia Pickard

Olivia (Liv) Pickard

  • Hosted by Volunteers of Legal Services, Inc.
  • Sponsored by Latham & Watkins LLP
  • Service location New York
  • Law school Boston University School of Law
  • Issue area Criminal Justice Reform, Family Law
  • Fellowship class year 2024
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Olivia (she/her/hers), partnering with the Volunteers of Legal Service’s (VOLS) Incarcerated Mothers Law Project, will advocate for and represent incarcerated and formerly incarcerated mothers in New York state dealing with child visitation, custody, and parental rights issues.

Women are the fastest-growing segment of the incarcerated population, and over half the women in New York’s prisons and jails have minor children.  There is a severe lack of legal resources for this population in family law matters; it is exceedingly difficult to locate and secure effective legal assistance for issues such as custody and visitation. This project will address a long-overlooked justice gap by providing legal support to incarcerated mothers at Rikers Island Rose M. Singer Center, Taconic Correctional Facility, Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, and Albion Correctional Facility.

Olivia’s project is 4-pronged: 1) Generation of a pre-incarceration “toolbox” of legal information that will allow mothers to effectively plan for ongoing relationships and communications with their children; 2) Creation of regular, in-person legal clinics at correctional institutions; 3) Development of an inventory of meaningful and responsive post-release referrals; and 4) Evaluation of long-term opportunities for legislative advocacy. Olivia will also directly represent individuals in ongoing family court cases.

Family law is often overlooked within public interest law, though it touches the most precious parts of our lives - parents, children, partners, and extended kin. I have witnessed women be severely judged and blamed by a family court system purporting to help them. This work is deeply personal to me.

Olivia Pickard /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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