U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

What Constitutes Success? Evaluating Legal Services for Victims of Crime, A Formative Evaluation, Webinar, 2021

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2021
31 pages

This is the transcript of a webinar that reports on a research project that addressed the following three questions: 1) How can the effectiveness of a legal services program for victims of crime be defined? 2) What inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes should be measured to evaluate the effectiveness of a legal services program? 3) What systems and data are needed to evaluate a legal services program?


In addressing these issues, the project developed a conceptual model and a theory of change. The conceptual model illustrates the pathways to achieving program outcomes, and the theory of change explains how program activities are believed to produce those outcomes. In building the conceptual model, the project focused on the meaning of “success” in victim legal services; what and how client outcomes capture this success; and how service delivery and organization are designed to achieve these outcomes. The project methodology involved interviews with subject-matter experts, a draft conceptual model, a survey of subject-matter experts, the revision of the  conceptual model, pilot testing, development of the research network, site visits, finalization of the conceptual model, and a roundtable with subject-matter experts. The conceptual model was assessed for whether outcomes are achievable for individuals, whether objectives are ideals to pursue, whether the conceptual model is limited to legal services, and whether providers can customize the model. The theory of change linked to the conceptual model anticipates victims conserving their resources after victimization, assistance in trauma-informed legal services, and achievement of some measure of procedural justice. Formative work was conducted with three victims’ rights legal clinics.

Date Published: September 1, 2021