Notable Alumni | Emily Dunlap Advocates for Trafficked and Exploited Persons
Editor’s Note: The College of Arts & Sciences Notable Alumni Awards honor alumni for broad career accomplishments, commitment to community service, and valuable contributions to Ohio University and the College of Arts & Sciences.
Emily Dunlap ’10 B.A. Sociology and Women’s & Gender Studies
As a Staff Attorney at Advocating Opportunity, Emily Dunlap provides free legal services and advocacy to trafficked and exploited persons in Ohio. In 2015, she opened the Columbus, Ohio office of the Toledo-based organization.
Advocating Opportunity (“AO”) is a unique nonprofit law firm, as it integrates social services into a legal services framework. Grounded in a theory of whole-person advocacy, Advocating Opportunity recognizes human trafficking as a human rights issue and a symptom of larger oppressive systemic forces. By utilizing this lens, Advocating Opportunity is able to holistically support clients in the pursuit of the futures they want for themselves and their families, working together to remove legal and other barriers to their safety and success.
At AO, Dunlap represents clients in a variety of legal matters including immigration, juvenile, domestic relations, landlord-tenant disputes, and other civil proceedings. Within the field, Dunlap focuses on directing awareness and resources to underserved and under-identified survivor populations, with a focus on labor trafficking. Recently, her time has also been dedicated to helping clients navigate their post-conviction relief options. Last year, AO and the anti-trafficking movement advocated to help pass Senate Bill 4, expanding criminal record expungement to some survivors of human trafficking. Additionally, Dunlap serves as an educational resource on anti-trafficking best-practices, policy, court programming, and legislation. Over the last year she has provided dozens of trainings to child welfare professionals across Ohio on identifying, appropriately responding to, and serving child victims of human trafficking.
She has a history of social activism and, while earning a law degree at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, planned to continue working to bring access to justice to those most undermined and excluded by our legal system. While earning her law degree, she completed a summer study abroad program in comparative law at the University of Oxford. Dunlap clerked at the Executive Office for Immigration Review in Cleveland, Ohio, during her second year of law school on a Public Interest Fellowship, followed by spending much of her remaining time at Moritz working with local immigration attorney and mentor, Inna Simakovsky. Her first year as an attorney was spent as a Greif Fellow in Juvenile Human Trafficking at The Ohio State University, providing free legal representation to trafficked and exploited children.
In her free time, Dunlap works with the National Lawyers Guild responding to critical community issues. She also supervise Ohio State law students representing clients in immigration bond proceedings. She enjoys all that Columbus, Ohio, has to offer with her partner, Konstantin Matejic, and two dogs, Alice and Lily.
While at OHIO, Dunlap was active in student groups, developing and practicing her advocacy skills for the first time. She served as President of Women Acting for Change (later renamed People Acting for Gender Equality) a student group focused on highlighting and advancing feminist issues on campus. Her senior year, she served as the Student Senate Vice Commissioner for Women’s Affairs. That same year, she was recognized for Outstanding Leadership in Women’s Issues.
“OU inspired a love of continuous education, not only inside the classroom, but by meaningfully taking part in the broader community and learning from experience,” she says.
Dunlap remembers her time at OHIO fondly, grateful for the many friendships she forged and the mentorship she received from professors and other local leaders. During her time as a student, she got her Open Water and Rescue Diver SCUBA certifications, an activity that has taken her all over the world. She read spoken word poetry at Designated Space at Donkey Coffee, working to find her voice and overcome her fear of public speaking, skills she now applies to courtroom litigation.
“OU gave me the critical educational and practical foundation to meaningfully pursue my passion for social justice and advocacy,” Dunlap reflects. “Though my law degree informs my day-to-day practice, my studies in WGS and Sociology play an equal part, influencing the ways I navigate my responsibilities and my accountability within the legal system.”
In 2015, Dunlap visited the Center for Law, Justice and Culture at OHIO and talked to students about human trafficking.