23 “Cheryl” was no more than 14 years old when she was first forced into prostitution, and for the next five years she was trafficked across the country. During this period, Cheryl was repeatedly arrested and convicted of prosti- tution-related offenses while the man who trafficked her forced her to solicit sex for his profit. Although Cheryl escaped from her trafficker years ago, her criminal record is a constant reminder of the trauma she endured and a continued impediment in her life. For the past five years, Alec Zadek and others at Mintz Levin have represented sex trafficking survivors such as Cheryl in open criminal matters, immigration cases, and post-conviction relief proceedings. In particular, the attorneys have seen how sex-trafficking survivors are plagued by prostitution-related convictions that can make it difficult to pursue an education, gain employment, find housing or childcare, and otherwise rebuild their lives. Having succeeded in moving courts to vacate prostitution- related convictions, Mintz Levin attorneys understand the procedural challenges of these proceedings first-hand. For one client, 10 attorneys and paraprofessionals spent over 100 hours compiling the necessary filings and legal research to build a successful case. For another client, Alec and attorney Rebecca Raphaelson, with assistance from Mintz Levin project analysts, prepared a 216-page filing that included multiple motions and affidavits and nine exhibits. For many survivors, who should never have been convicted in the first place, the path to post-convic- tion relief is time consuming, expensive, and uncertain. Having navigated the Commonwealth’s complicated legal processes on behalf of multiple survivors, Mintz Levin has become a sponsor and champion of reforms to streamline the procedure for survivors to obtain post-conviction relief in Massachusetts. In 2015, Alec and Boston University Clinical Associate Professor of Law Julie Dahlstrom, later joined by Mintz Levin attorney Lavinia Weizel, convened a working group to draft legislation that would streamline this procedure. In late 2015, State Repre- sentative (and former Mintz Levin attorney) Michael Day filed the product of their efforts, An Act to Reduce Sexual Exploitation of Victims of Human Trafficking. “This bill gives survivors a chance at a new life—not defined by their exploitation but by their courage,” Professor Dahlstrom said. Together, she, Representative Day, and Mintz Levin continue to advocate for reform and are optimistic about the future of the pending legislation. This law could help survivors like Cheryl regain their lives. Although she is more than 10 years removed from being trafficked, the convictions and open arrests—her only criminal record—continue to haunt her. She learned of Mintz Levin when she read a news story about Alec’s work with survivors and reached out immediately. Alec still recalls his first contact with Cheryl. “I had a message from someone I didn’t know that described in detail her abuse, her convictions, and the challenges posed by her criminal record. It was clear she needed help and was A Lifeline to a Better Future (continued) “When Alec and Julie called me to discuss this issue,it didn’t take long to recognize the level of experience Mintz Levin had already achieved in this area of the law.I’ve enjoyed working with the team tremendously,and their professionalism, compassion,and dedication to this issue have helped me push this legislation through some potential barriers.I’m hopeful we can celebrate the signing of this bill into law sooner than later.” Hon. Michael S. Day State Representative State of Massachusetts