Press Release

December 13, 2022

Contact: Shayna Horwitz, Development & Communications Director, The Human Trafficking Legal Center
Phone: 202-849-5708
Email: [email protected]

New Guide for Advocates Provides Resources on Bankruptcy Filings Affecting Human Trafficking Survivors

Guide explores key bankruptcy issues for counsel representing human trafficking survivors

Washington, DCK&L Gates LLP and the Human Trafficking Legal Center co-published a guide today for advocates representing trafficking survivors. The publication, Holding Traffickers to Account in Bankruptcy Proceedings: A Guide for Advocates Representing Trafficking Survivors, seeks to assist counsel representing survivors of human trafficking in protecting their clients’ rights when a trafficker files for bankruptcy.

Trafficking survivors have the right to bring civil cases against their traffickers for damages under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. Many trafficking survivors and their advocates are unaware of how civil litigation interacts with bankruptcy proceedings.

Some traffickers seek to thwart survivors’ efforts to obtain justice, turning to the bankruptcy system to place assets out of survivors’ reach or halt pending civil litigation.  Advocates bringing civil claims on behalf of survivors must be aware of these potential pitfalls.

This publication offers practical guidance on dealing with bankruptcy filings by trafficker-debtors, and addresses filing proofs of debt, seeking discovery, and seeking the assistance of the Trustee in Bankruptcy.

Martina Vandenberg, President of the Human Trafficking Legal Center, said, “The Human Trafficking Legal Center has seen the impact of bankruptcy filings on trafficking survivors seeking justice. We have received requests time and time again from pro bono counsel representing these survivors. We are grateful to the entire pro bono team at K&L Gates for writing this guide for advocates. We know that the guide will be used by pro bono lawyers representing trafficking survivors across the country. Survivors deserve justice.”

About the Human Trafficking Legal Center
The Human Trafficking Legal Center serves as a pro bono clearinghouse, connecting trafficking survivors with highly-skilled legal representation to hold traffickers accountable. We seek justice for workers held in forced labor around the globe. We are a non-profit organization, monitoring the federal government and working to improve federal policy to benefit trafficking survivors. The Human Trafficking Legal Center advocates for systemic change to eradicate forced labor in global supply chains.

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About K&L Gates LLP
K&L Gates is a fully integrated global law firm with lawyers located across five continents. The firm represents leading multinational corporations, growth and middle-market companies, capital markets participants and entrepreneurs in every major industry group as well as public sector entities, educational institutions, philanthropic organizations and individuals. For more information about K&L Gates or its locations, practices and registrations, visit

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