The work of Jessica Emerson, J.D. ’13, clinical teaching fellow in the Saul Ewing Civil Advocacy Clinic, is the focus of a Sept. 23 Daily Record article, “Law students join anti-trafficking efforts at UB Law clinic.”
Emerson has worked for more than two years to help survivors of the commercial sex trade vacate their prostitution convictions. She also helps train other lawyers to take on the cases pro bono and advises advocates in other states.
The Maryland legislature passed a law in 2011 that allows survivors of sex trafficking to have their prostitution convictions voided.
Emerson began the project as an Equal Justice Works fellow at the Women’s Law Center and moved the project to the law school last month.
She emphasized that she and the clinic’s student-attorneys must take a holistic view of their clients’ situations.
“Because of the criminalization of prostitution and the criminalization of homelessness and poverty in this country, the prostitution convictions were only a small tick on the radar as far as the challenges these individuals have,” Emerson said.
Continued Emerson: “I’m talking about clients that have seven-, eight-, nine-page criminal records because everything about their lives has been criminalized. That’s why these cases move so slowly — there are so many other things that need to be dealt with legally.”