Understanding the Laws in Your State

Portrait of Hogan Lovells lawyers Stacey McEvoy, Allen Hicks, and Jan Shanklin.

Pictured: Stacey McEvoy, Allen Hicks, and Jan Shanklin. Not pictured: Patrick Rizzi.

Each week, tens of thousands of visitors search Laws in Your State, one of the most popular sections of RAINN’s website. From reporters on deadline to Congressional staffers researching new bills, the site has become the most authoritative source of information on states sexual violence laws, providing details about when child abuse must be reported, how offenders are required to submit HIV/AIDS testing, how states protect victims’ confidentiality, statutes of limitations and more.

The five databases that make up Laws in Your State are possible thanks to generous support from Hogan Lovells, a global legal practice with more than 2,500 lawyers on six continents. Rebecca O’Connor, RAINN’s vice president for public policy, checked in with the team of lawyers at Hogan Lovells who lead this effort and dedicate countless hours to ensure that survivors, legislators, educators, and others have up-to-date information on states' sex crime laws.

Tell us about Hogan Lovell's Pro Bono Practice and the firm's partnership with RAINN. Why do you think it's an important one?
At Hogan Lovells, we go beyond talking about good Citizenship – we live it every day. Everyone at the firm is asked to volunteer at least 25 hours each year as part of normal work duties, and our lawyers devote more than 100,000 hours every year to pro bono matters. We invest our time, talents, and resources in the places where we live and work, and across our global community. Our partnership with RAINN aligns with this longstanding commitment to invest in Citizenship. RAINN’s dedication to fighting and preventing sexual violence is a cause we strongly support.

Your team works tirelessly to provide updates for and help RAINN expand our database of states' laws on sexual violence. Can you tell us a bit about how you tackle this project and who is involved?
Each year, we review, research, and update five 50-state legal reference databases that summarize state laws impacting victims of sexual assault crimes as well as victim counselors. This year, we also are creating a sixth 50-state database, focusing on consent laws. The project is truly a team effort, led by our four project leaders — partner Allen Hicks, counsel Patrick Rizzi and associates Stacey McEvoy and Jan Shanklin — and supported by our dedicated team of more than 35 lawyers each year in multiple practice groups and offices. We divide up each of the six databases into groups of about 10 states each and assign them to an individual volunteer. We then have additional reviews for consistency, presentation and accuracy. Over the last six years, more than 115 lawyers in 11 offices have partnered with RAINN.

What is most challenging about the database project? Most rewarding?
The most challenging aspect of the project is coordinating, managing and organizing such a large volume of information with a large team, while ensuring that the substantive information in the databases remains accurate and up to date. The most rewarding aspect is knowing how extensively the databases are used by so many people - sexual violence victims, victims’ counselors, parents, teachers, lawyers, prosecutors, lawmakers and journalists. We understand that the databases have more than 1.5 million visitors a year and that RAINN has used the databases to respond to media inquiries and in education initiatives.

RAINN has joined the Hogan Lovells Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action Empowering Girls and Women Initiative. Tell us a bit about the project and why you think it's important.
We are dedicated to making a genuine difference in the lives of those who face violence, oppression, and discrimination. Our Empowering Girls and Women Initiative challenges us to focus a significant part of our Citizenship activities on addressing gender-based violence, enhancing educational opportunities, and empowering women to shape society. We also have made a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action, partnering with dozens of organizations to address these three specific gender-based issues. Our collaboration with RAINN is a great example of the relationships and work we promote and encourage through both the initiative and the commitment to action.

Learn more and support efforts to address campus sexual violence policies: visit RAINN's Action Center and sign up for updates.

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