On My Side 2023 Honoree
The Litigator of the Year Award recognizes an attorney who has shown extraordinary commitment and skill in litigating cases under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). This year’s awardee, Nakisha Chaney, has litigated an array of trafficking cases, from sex trafficking of children in prison to forced labor in multiple industries, including agriculture and construction. Her most recent victory ended with a $918,237 judgment for a woman who was held in forced labor for years. Her traffickers used physical abuse and punishment, as well as threats of harm to her and her child to control her. This was a cutting-edge case, as the plaintiff’s traffickers were her then-husband and his parents, who had recruited her through an arranged marriage. Nakisha’s innovative TVPRA litigation has garnered extensive attention, raising public awareness about forced labor. She won a landmark case against a third-party facilitator of sex trafficking under the federal human trafficking laws, the first of its kind in Michigan. And she worked with co-counsel to bring a prison sex trafficking and sexual abuse case, resulting in important equitable relief, as well as an $80 million settlement with the State of Michigan. Nakisha serves on the advisory committee for the Human Trafficking Legal Center.
Learn more about Nakisha
Nakisha N. Chaney, who is of counsel at Salvatore Prescott Porter & Porter, is a civil rights attorney who specializes in human trafficking, prison abuse, police misconduct, and discrimination under state and federal law. Chaney serves as a litigator, mediator and workplace investigator. She also teaches Mediation and Civil Rights Litigation at the University of Michigan Law School.
A graduate of Oberlin College and the University of Michigan Law School, Chaney has committed her career to the pursuit of civil rights and social justice, participating in landmark civil rights cases, including as part of a litigation team challenging the sexual abuse, trafficking and solitary confinement of children incarcerated in adult prisons, resulting in an $80 million settlement with the State of Michigan and commitment that the Michigan Department of Corrections would reform its policies and practices.
Chaney is an ardent legal advocate for human trafficking survivors, representing labor and sex trafficking victims in civil litigation. Several years ago, she obtained the first known civil judgment in Michigan against a third-party facilitator of sex trafficking under the federal human trafficking laws. Chaney has also spoken and published extensively to raise awareness of human trafficking and civil remedies available to survivors. In 2018, Chaney served as a keynote speaker at the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force and Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan’s Human Trafficking Conference.
Chaney is a Human Trafficking Legal Center Advisory Board Member, Fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation, Co-Chair of the State Bar of Michigan’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section’s Skills Action Team, Vice-Chair of the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County’s Board of Directors, and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. ®
In 2018, the Washtenaw County Bar Association awarded Chaney the Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream Award.” In 2020, Public Justice recognized Chaney as a finalist for the Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for her work in the Michigan prison abuse litigation, and, in 2023, the State Bar of Michigan’s ADR Section awarded Chaney its Hero of ADR Award for her support of the ADR Section’s mission or the field of conflict resolution generally by providing exemplary service.