The Human Trafficking Clinic faculty and students provide legal services to victims of labor and/or sex trafficking regardless of age, gender, or national origin. Students gain core knowledge and foundational skills through client representation and advocacy.
The Human Trafficking Clinic is committed to advancing anti-trafficking policy through interdisciplinary collaboration at the local, national and international levels.
About the Human Trafficking Clinic
The Human Trafficking Clinic, launched in 2009, is the first clinical law program solely dedicated to the issue of human trafficking. Human trafficking encompasses all forms of compelled labor or services and it occurs throughout the United States.
The clinic offers students the opportunity to work on U.S. and international human trafficking issues and cases. The Human Trafficking Clinic provides direct representation of both labor and sex trafficking survivors in a variety of areas related to their trafficking, including immigration, post-adjudication criminal relief, access to public benefits, and victim-witness advocacy. Our work is best described as a poverty law practice on behalf of survivors of human trafficking and their families. We also engage in systemic advocacy for trafficking survivors, training of professionals, and community education.
We provide students the opportunity to learn, practice, and improve essential advocacy skills such as interviewing, fact investigation, counseling, legal writing, and oral advocacy. They also collaborate with a variety of stakeholders, including survivors of human trafficking, law enforcement, government officials, and nongovernmental organizations, to identify solutions to combat human trafficking. Students are responsible, under supervision, for all of the cases and projects within the clinic.
Human Trafficking FAQs
What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking encompasses all forms of compelled labor or services and it occurs throughout the United States. Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, harboring, or receipt of people for the purposes of a commercial sex act, involuntary servitude, or debt bondage. It currently exists in every state of the United States and across the world. It can be found in many industries: agriculture, service, hospitality, and domestic service, as well as in the commercial sex industry. In 2000, the federal government, responding to the inadequacy of the current laws and to the scale and gravity of the problem, enacted the first comprehensive human trafficking law in the United States: the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The Act defines human trafficking and establishes penalties for human traffickers. Some states and localities have followed the lead of the federal government and have enacted their own laws.
What kind of legal work does the clinic do?
The vast majority of our work is in the field of immigration. Students develop and submit many different types of applications to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services including T Visas, U Visas, Violence Against Women Act petitions, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, Adjustment of Status (Green Cards), and Citizenship. Students sometimes also represent clients in removal proceedings. Michigan law students interested in pursuing immigration law should absolutely consider the Human Trafficking Clinic because, although we serve a particular sub-population, the daily work of the clinic is highly reflective of the work of an immigration practitioner or pro bono attorney representing any crime victim. The second most common legal remedy students work on is the removal of convictions from a survivor’s criminal record. Under Michigan law, victims of human trafficking can request removal of specific convictions if they can show they were victims of human trafficking at the time of the alleged crime. Removal of convictions requires submission of a brief and oral advocacy in a court hearing.
We do not prosecute cases against criminals or investigate criminal matters. We can assist a survivor in reporting to and working with law enforcement and prosecutors. We are not able to assist survivors with non-legal matters but will do our best to refer to appropriate services.
How do I enroll in the clinic?
Current Michigan Law School students who are interested in being a part of the clinic can do so in two ways: either by enrolling in the clinic for credit during the academic year, or by applying to be an intern in the summer. For information in how to enroll in the academic year please refer to the current Clinic Enrollment Guide. Details on how to apply for summer internships will be entered into the Simplicity system during the Winter semester each year.
Non-Michigan law students are not able to enroll during the academic year. In very limited circumstances, individuals currently enrolled in a JD program can apply for a summer internship with the Human Trafficking Clinic. If you are interested in applying for a summer internship with the clinic please submit a cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 30th of the year. Please write "Summer Employment Application" in the subject line of the email.
I am interested in applying for the clinic, but I have heard it is hard to get into. Is that true?
No! This is a worrisome myth about the clinic. It is sometimes the case that applicants will not be selected the first semester they apply. However, it is almost always the case that applicants who submit complete clinic applications for multiple semesters are admitted at some point during their Law School career.
How does the clinic identify clients?
We receive referrals from a variety of community partners including the National Human Trafficking Hotline; social services providers; other attorneys; local, state and federal law enforcement or prosecutors; and survivors who have self-identified.
How do I refer someone for legal assistance?
The best way to request assistance for yourself or someone else is to call our office at 734-615-3600. We are generally open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.. When you call, be prepared to briefly provide the nature of the victimization, the legal need, and safe contact information. We do not accept walk-ins.
I am not a member of the Michigan Law School community. Can I volunteer?
Thank you for offering to assist our efforts. Our first priority is always to ensure we are accommodating the volunteer interests of members of the University of Michigan Law School community. Thus, we do not have volunteer opportunities for individuals outside of the Michigan Law School Community.
The only exception to the above statement applies to those who possess non-English language skills. There are instances when we need interpretation/translation of a less-commonly spoken language and there is no one in the Law School community able to meet that need. If you are fluent in a language other than English and are interested in being a volunteer interpreter/translator, please email email@example.com with your name, email, phone number, and the language(s) in which you are fluent.
I am hosting a public event or training on human trafficking. Can I request a speaker from the clinic?
Thank you for your interest in the topic of human trafficking. We receive an overwhelming number of requests for a speaker and are only able to accommodate a small fraction of the requests we receive. If you would like to request a speaker, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information: the agency or organization you are associated with; proposed date(s) and time(s); the length of the proposed presentation; location; a description of the audience including an estimated number in attendance; and what kind of information on human trafficking you are seeking. Depending on the nature of the request, there may be a speaker's fee.
I am researching human trafficking. Can I talk to someone about the issue?
We are thankful that you are interested in learning more about the issue, but we are unable to respond to general research requests. The clinic is a functioning law office and we must ensure that we are dedicating our limited staff time to meeting the needs of our clients.