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What Constitutes Success? Evaluating Legal Services for Victims of Crime, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2021
22 pages

This project synthesized previous research and input from a variety of legal service providers and crime survivor stakeholders to create a much-needed conceptual model for victim legal services.



Underlying this conceptual model is the theory of change, whereby victims may be assisted to conserve what resources they have after victimization via trauma-informed legal services. Like Sullivan’s conceptual model for domestic violence services (2016; 2018), this model provides a framework that researchers and practitioners can use to test hypotheses (in general research) and program effectiveness (in evaluation), where only more general studies about the impact of victim legal services previously existed. The model can also be a valuable resource for designing and implementing new victim legal services programs. While the “road test” of this model is still set to continue during the process evaluation, this research demonstrated how the conceptual model can be operationalized for specific programs, built out into a logic model, and implemented in practice. After key background information is provided, the conceptual model for victim legal services and the theory of change are presented. This is followed by the results of the pilot tests with the three clinics, which include the data quality assessment, fidelity testing, and evaluability assessment findings. These are followed by the outcome evaluation designs under consideration as a result. It finishes with potential limitations and conclusions.



Date Published: September 1, 2021