Human Trafficking Survivors Get A Highly Qualified Legal Advocate

By Kristina Davis
The San Diego Union-Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Attorney Jamie Quient says that her work with victims of human trafficking gives her the opportunity to give these survivors a fresh start and that is what drives her.

The San Diego Union-Tribune

When Jamie Quient first asked how she, a civil litigation attorney, could help victims of human trafficking, a federal prosecutor advised her: We need lawyers.

Lawyers to help victims get restitution from their traffickers. Lawyers to help victims expunge criminal charges related to their abuse. Lawyers to help victims get their kids back in child custody disputes.

The conversation stuck with her. And as she delved deeper in the issue in San Diego County, Quient realized how legal problems related to trafficking were preventing many survivors from moving on with their lives.

It’s why the 33-year-old quit her well-paying job at the prestigious Procopio law firm in downtown San Diego to start a nonprofit that will take on the legal messes of trafficked victims.

“I’m hearing over and over again, ‘I’ve never had a lawyer before.’ ‘The only lawyer I’ve had was a public defender when I was charged with a crime,'” Quient said in an interview this week.

“Access to the legal system is a huge barrier for them, and ultimately results in other things happening, like losing custody of your kids because you don’t have a lawyer.”

The nonprofit, Free to Thrive, is the third such program to provide free legal services to human trafficking victims in California, along with programs in Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

Clean slate
Helping survivors vacate their criminal record in connection with their trafficking will likely be the nonprofit’s bread and butter, thanks to a new law that went into effect this year that allows victims to get a clean slate.

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