Message on Sexual Assault
May 2019 | By 2018-2019 President Isabel Finley
Many survivors of sexual assault are never made aware of the numerous legal, medical, and psychological resources that are available to them either at low cost or entirely free of charge. Instead, we are often told by perpetrators and the institutions they are a part of that these resources will be too costly to pursue – that we should just give up. In 2018 alone, I was approached by multiple friends and acquaintances seeking resources after experiencing assault, who did not know they could obtain civil legal counsel either free of charge or on a contingency fee basis (meaning attorneys’ fees are paid only from a portion of any eventual settlement reached). After realizing the extent to which even the most highly educated women are often unaware of their options and resources – and in many cases are actively misled – I sought to compile a list of area resources and attorneys who represent survivors on a contingency fee basis.
Furthermore, while HLS has automatically provided students accused of sexual assault with a list of attorneys who defend alleged perpetrators in campus proceedings, no corresponding list of legal resources has been provided to survivors until now. The resources below are meant to help correct that inequity, and to provide survivors the support they deserve when commencing a process that too often invalidates the traumatic effects of sexual assault. Furthermore, the HLS Dean of Students Office has agreed to start directing students who report assault to this webpage, and the university-wide Office of Sexual Assault Prevention & Response has added these attorneys to their existing resources. I hope this list will be shared widely, and that more resources continue to be added each year. And ultimately, I hope Harvard Law School and its graduates start assuming greater moral leadership in the fight against the epidemic of sexual violence.
Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP
Sanford Heisler Sharp has offices in New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, San Diego, and Nashville.
Phone: (646) 402-5650
Online Contact Form
“Sanford Heisler Sharp represents plaintiffs in individual matters and class actions nationwide. Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Criminal/Sexual Violence Practice Group draws on more than 30 years of experience in crime victim advocacy to provide survivors of criminal sexual violence—who are confronted with the pain of their experience and a dizzying array of life-altering decisions, oftentimes with little or no guidance—exceptional advocacy in their effort to find some measure of justice.
Sanford Heisler Sharp distinguishes itself by partnering with leading advocacy organizations and advocating for clients in the criminal and civil court systems. The Firm understands that survivors’ rights are routinely violated in ways that harm their chances of bringing a civil lawsuit, since prosecutors represent the state—not the survivor. Attorneys at the Firm are knowledgeable and well-prepared to help many survivors (especially those who are poor, LGBTQ, or part of a minority group) that can benefit from bringing lawsuits in both systems.”
Michael R. Harriman
92 State Street, 9th Floor
Boston, MA 02109
Phone: (617) 482-1723
“Harriman Law represents survivors of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, assault and rape by pursuing civil claims against perpetrators and third party employers, entities, and individuals responsible for their supervision and oversight.”
Kristin M. Knuuttila
175 Federal Street, Suite 1425
Boston, MA 02110
Phone: (617) 600-3010
“After practicing at a larger firm for 20 years, Kristin founded Knuuttila Law to represent survivors – and only survivors – of sexual assault. The firm is singularly focused on holding perpetrators and negligent institutions accountable for the harm they cause.”