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Working with Communities Who Others May Have Overlooked

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Mary Armistead is a 2018 Equal Justice Works Fellow in the Crime Victims Justice Corps. She is hosted by the Capital District Women’s Bar Association Legal Project.

Photo of Mary Armistead
Photo of Mary Armistead

What motivated you to apply for the Crime Victims Justice Corps?

The combination of Equal Justice Works and the Capital District Women’s Bar Association Legal Project was too good to pass up! I became familiar with both of these organizations during my time in law school. Through internships, I worked with the Capital District Women’s Bar Association Legal Project extensively. They were known for helping marginalized communities and for being an excellent workplace. I learned about Equal Justice Works through the Conference and Career Fair and was inspired by the various Fellowship programs. Four years after I graduated law school, I saw a Fellowship opportunity through the Crime Victims Justice Corps (CVJC) and knew I had to apply. Working as a Fellow has allowed me to work with individuals who others may have overlooked, and to educate those in positions to help these individuals.

Tell us a bit about your Fellowship at the Capital District Women’s Bar Association Legal Project. What types of services do you provide to victims of human trafficking?

Before working at the Capital District Women’s Bar Association Legal Project, I primarily focused on immigration and family law representation. Now, I use my expertise to represent survivors of human trafficking before various immigration agencies (ICE, USCIS, and EOIR) and help survivors with family law matters, such as seeking orders of protection, custody, or divorce. Often, I practice in other legal areas and collaborate with experts in these fields to ensure that my clients are receiving the best possible representation. Through my time as a Fellow, I have been able to receive training and technical assistance from the National Crime Victim Law Institute and its partners to continually build my legal repertoire. Additionally, I leverage partnerships with other agencies, the government, and nonprofits to create holistic solutions for my clients.

As a Fellow in the Crime Victims Justice Corps, you are part of a nationwide network of lawyers working to expand legal services for survivors of human trafficking and other crimes. What are some of the benefits of being part of this cohort and how do you collaborate with other Fellows in this program?

This national cohort has provided me with the opportunity to have instant connections in various geographical areas throughout the country. These connections are essential to helping me best serve survivors who may have moved from one location to another as part of their trafficking. It also provides a built-in brainstorming network full of individuals dealing with similar issues in their work. On a personal level, when we have the opportunity to gather together for conferences, like the Leadership and Development Training, it provides a space where other lawyers can understand the emotional toll this work has. We can share ideas on how to best take care of ourselves while also serving others.

Lastly, what are your plans following this Fellowship? Are you going to continue working with victims of human trafficking?

I certainly plan to continue using the knowledge, experience, and networks to serve victims of human trafficking. For example, I hope to continue participating on panels and giving presentations regarding human trafficking. Additionally, I intend to continue serving as the co-chair for the Capital District Women’s Bar Association Sex Trafficking Committee (which I hope to rename the Human Trafficking Committee to recognize the extent to which labor trafficking as well). I would also love to continue serving the immigrant community because they are uniquely susceptible to trafficking exploitation. My hope is to continue working at Capital District Women’s Bar Association Legal Project, which has been an environment where I can both be supported and have the independence to grow.

To learn more about Mary’s project and the work of our Crime Victims Justice Corps, click here.

CVJC is supported by an award from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, Award Number 2017-MU-MU-K131, and private funding. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this product are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

This national cohort has provided me with the opportunity to have instant connections in various geographical areas throughout the country.

Mary Armistead /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow