VRLC History

The Victim Rights Law Center (VRLC) was founded in 2000 as an innovative project of a rape crisis center in order to fill a critical void in services for sexual assault victims, and launched as a separate 501(c)(3) in 2003. The VRLC’s mission is to provide legal representation to victims of rape and sexual assault to help rebuild their lives; and to promote a national movement committed to seeking justice for every rape and sexual assault victim.

The VRLC is the first nonprofit law center in the country solely dedicated to serving the critical legal needs of sexual assault victims. The VRLC provides free, trauma-informed civil legal services to rape and sexual assault survivors throughout Massachusetts and in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties, Oregon in the areas of privacy, safety, immigration, housing, education, employment and financial stability to help rebuild victims’ lives following sexual violence.

The VRLC remains the only organization in Massachusetts providing holistic, comprehensive legal services for sexual assault survivors, and our office is located in downtown Boston. The VRLC opened a second office in Portland, Oregon in 2006 which allowed our national training and technical assistance program to have VRLC attorneys on both coasts. The VRLC’s training team provides national and statewide trainings, mentoring, and consulting to lawyers and advocates, and create resource tools, templates, and other products to help professionals better meet sexual assault survivors’ needs. In 2013, the VRLC’s Oregon office launched its direct services component, allowing the VRLC to provide direct legal representation in Multnomah County. In 2014, the VRLC expanded our legal representation to Washington County, and in 2016 to Clackamas County.

The VRLC maintains a vibrant pro bono program in both Oregon and Massachusetts. VRLC staff attorneys recruit, train, and mentor volunteer attorneys in order to leverage local resources to help represent an ever-increasing number of sexual assault victims. Private attorneys appreciate the opportunity to use their expertise to volunteer in their community through an effective and efficient program.

VRLC attorneys use what they learn by representing individual sexual assault survivors to train attorneys, advocates, educators, medical professionals, law enforcement, military personnel, and others throughout the country on how to improve the response to sexual violence. VRLC attorneys also lend their expertise to provide guidance to the White House, state and federal agencies, and local and national legislators on gender based violence. Most recently, the VRLC has been a leader in the movement to address and end campus sexual assault, resulting in a significant impact on national policies. 

The VRLC works with community partners, volunteers, and survivors to lead a new response to sexual violence.