Professor Jessica Emerson began the Human Trafficking Prevention Project (“HTPP”) at the University of Baltimore School of Law in August of 2015. The project focuses on reducing the collateral consequences of criminal justice involvement for survivors of human trafficking and those populations made most vulnerable to exploitation. Under Ms. Emerson’s supervision, student attorneys provide representation to clients filing expungement, shielding, and state or federal pardon petitions. They also represent survivors of sex trafficking seeking to vacate their prostitution convictions under Maryland’s “vacating convictions” law. In April of 2017, the HTPP expanded to include a partnership with the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, who oversee the pro bono arm of the project.
Prior to joining the faculty, Ms. Emerson was a staff attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, where she began an innovative project focused on addressing the criminalization of sex trafficking survivors. Ms. Emerson received her J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2013. Prior to attending law school, she was a clinical social worker at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in New York City, where she provided intensive, individual mental health counseling and case management services to HIV-positive and sexually high-risk adolescents, as well as group counseling and HIV testing services to adolescent survivors of domestic sex trafficking and LGBTQ youth at partnering community agencies. Ms. Emerson received her Master of Science in Social Work degree from Columbia University, with a focus on health, mental health, and disabilities. She trains nationally on vacating convictions, marginalized populations, trauma, and the collateral consequences of criminal convictions for people in the commercial sex industry. She is a licensed attorney in Maryland, and a licensed social worker in New York State.