NCVLI and the victims’ rights movement

History of NCVLI

NCVLI was conceived in 1997 by Professor Doug Beloof to be a national resource for crime victim lawyers and victims to support the assertion and enforcement of victims’ rights in criminal and civil processes. In 1998, United States Senators Jon Kyl, Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden, and Gordon Smith supported the first appropriation of Congress to provide financial support for NCVLI. Since then NCVLI has achieved a number of successes highlighted below.

Our History


  • Lewis & Clark Law Students start assisting with victims’ rights work.


  • The first edition of Professor Beloof’s legal casebook, Victims in Criminal Procedure, is published and wins an award for research and writing in victimology from the National Organization of Victim Assistance.



  • NCVLI convenes the first national Crime Victim Law Conference for crime victim lawyers; and jointly hosts its first colloquium for sexual assault coalition lawyers.


  • NCVLI incorporates as a private nonprofit with a Board of Directors, and secures tax exempt status.
  • 5-year cooperative agreement between NCVLI and the United States Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), is entered, launching the State & Federal Clinics and System Demonstration Project. Key elements of the Demonstration Project: solicitation and oversight of pro bono legal clinics, continuation of an annual Crime Victim Law & Litigation Conference, legal technical assistance to victim lawyers and advocates around the nation, the National Alliance of Victims’ Rights Lawyers (NAVRA), a bi-annual newsletter, NCVLI News, and NCVLI amicus curiae participation nationwide.


  • The pro bono legal clinics are funded under the Demonstration Project launch.
  • NCVLI helps to secure passage of the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), 18 U.S.C. § 3771, providing the most comprehensive and enforceable victims’ rights in the federal criminal justice system. NCVLI worked with Senators Kyl and Feinstein in drafting the CVRA, and is named in its legislative history as the exemplary model of legal services to crime victims.

2005 – 2006

  • Three additional pro bono clinics launch under the Demonstration Project.
  • Membership in NAVRA surpasses 300 and its national teleconference trainings begin.
  • Crime Victim Law Conference attendance surpasses 100.
  • NCVLI receives a new grant from OVC for the Victims’ Rights Enforcement Project. Elements of the Enforcement Project include: expansion of 3 of the legal clinics into federal courts to enforce the CVRA in the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, training and technical assistance to these clinics and other participants in the federal criminal justice system.
  • Professor Beloof receives the Attorney General Award for service to victims of crime.

2007 – 2011

  • Five additional pro bono clinics launch under the Demonstration Project, bring the total number of victims’ rights enforcement clinics launched under the Project to 13.
  • NCVLI is the recipient of a new Child-Victims’ Rights grant from OVC to address the needs of this vulnerable population and ensure they understand and can exercise their rights.
  • NCVLI is honored with the Crime Victims’ Rights Award from the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • NAVRA launches a new website with online resources for attorneys and advocates –

2012 – 2013

  • NCVLI works closely with U.S. Air Force to build a program to better support sexual assault victims during military justice proceedings – this becomes the Special Victim Counsel Program.
  • The Rights Enforcement Toolkit is launched to help practitioners effectively assert and seek enforcement of their clients’ rights.
  • NCVLI receives the Paul H. Chapman Foundation for Improvement of Justice Award and the Mary Byron Celebrating Solutions Award for Innovation in Responding to Violence Against Women.

2014 – 2016

  • In Paroline v. United States, the United States Supreme Court, for the first time in history, hears oral arguments from a victim’s attorney about her rights in a criminal case. NCVLI participated in the case since 2009.
  • NCVLI enters a cooperative agreement with OVC to provide training and technical assistance to ten legal clinics providing wraparound legal assistance under the Victim Legal Assistance Networks Project.
  • NCVLI launches an Advisory Board to provide input on strategy and programs.
  • NAVRA begins providing online CLE trainings.
  • NCVLI is awarded a contract to provide statewide training for the State Victim Assistance Academies.
  • NCVLI’s model of independent legal representation for victims that was first adopted as the Air Force Special Victim Counsel program is adopted by every branch of the United States military to respond to sexual assault; NCVLI continues providing training and case consultation.
  • Voices for Justice, NCVLI’s annual fundraising event, launches.
  • Executive Director Meg Garvin receives Parents of Murdered Children’s John W. Gillis Leadership Award.

2017 – 2018

  • NCVLI launches dedicated efforts to advance post-conviction victims’ rights enforcement with funding from OVC and the National Institute on Corrections (NIC).
  • NCVLI is awarded a cooperative agreement from OVC to enhance efforts to holistically serve the legal needs of rural crime victims, resulting in the Increasing Legal Access to Rural Victims of Crime Project. Through this project NCVLI competitively solicits and selects three rural agencies to establish demonstration sites and provids training and technical assistance to aid in their development and legal assistance.
  • NCVLI partners with Equal Justice Works to provide training and technical assistance provider to the Equal Justice Works’ Crime Victim Justice Corps – a group of new or transitioning lawyers working with crime victims.
  • NCVLI partners with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to reduce gender bias in policing.
  • NCVLI enters a cooperative agreement with OVC to increase awareness of victims’ rights and increase victim access to no cost legal services, resulting in the Rights In Systems Enforced (RISE) Project. NCVLI competitively subgrants six agencies to expand the body of attorneys knowledgeable about rights assertion and enforcement in criminal trial and appellate courts and provides training and technical assistance to these legal Clinics.
  • NCVLI becomes a subgrantee to IACP to provide training and technical assistance to law enforcement based victim advocates.


  • As part of its ongoing efforts to make victim financial recovery a priority in criminal justice, NCVLI begins a partnership with the Council for State Governments to create the Restitution Resource Center.
  • NCVLI begins partnership with the National Organization of Victim Assistance on a project to enhance services to military-connected victims.
  • As the Victim Legal Assistance Network Project concludes, NCVLI launches the Victim Legal Assistance Networks Project webpage, containing robust online resources for those hoping to establish a victim legal assistance network in their jurisdiction.
  • Crime Victim Law Conference surpasses 400 attendees.


  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Crime Victim Law Conference and Voices for Justice are both held 100% virtually.
  • As the Mary Byron Project marks its 20th anniversary, it once again honors NCVLI with its Celebrating Solution Award for NCVLI’s innovation and effectiveness in responding to violence against women.
  • NAVRA launches its online Pro Bono Portal to pair attorneys willing to provide pro or low bono services to victim service agencies directly serving victims.

2021 – Present

  • NCVLI continues to provide training & technical assistance to the ten legal clinics funded under the Rights In Systems Enforced (RISE) Project.
  • NCVLI continues to routinely file amicus curiae briefs in state and federal courts nationwide.
  • NCVLI continues to partner nationwide to ensure the next wave of victims’ rights legislation guarantees victims substantive rights and the procedural mechanisms to secure those rights.
  • NCVLI continues to train military attorneys to represent victims of sexual assault.
  • The Victim Litigation Clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School continues at full capacity, with law students providing legal research and writing on victims’ rights cases each semester.
  • NAVRA has more than 2,000 members.

Our Strategy

Recently, NCVLI undertook strategic planning using a theory of change approach. This effort included a national call for input from stakeholders nationwide throughout winter and spring 2020 regarding how NCVLI could best serve the country, and collaborate with the community. Notably, throughout our strategic planning the country has been grappling with a pandemic and increased attention on deep systemic and institutional racial inequities. NCVLI’s Staff and Board of Directors turned toward these realities, working collaboratively to map a future direction for NCVLI. The Board is pleased to announce adoption of this Strategic Plan as an outcome of that work.