Domestic Violence Clinic
Students in the Domestic Violence Clinic assist in the representation of victims of domestic violence in restraining order cases (209A) as well as victims of sexual assault in Harassment Order Cases (258E). Restraining orders in Massachusetts include a broad range of relief (including no abuse, stay away conditions, no contact conditions, home surrenders, child custody and child support), designed to help stop the violence or threats of future violence in a family or substantive dating relationships. The clinic also assists community-based domestic violence organizations in longer-term projects related to policy, programming and outreach.
Clinic students take on a lawyering role with their clients under the supervision of clinic faculty. Every student assists in the representation of 3-4 clients in restraining order hearings throughout the quarter. Students will assist clients in all stages of the restraining order process; from meeting the clients for the first time at the ex-parte phase, assisting in filling out the application and affidavit, assisting with service of the order, ongoing interviewing of the client and witnesses, hearing preparation and advocating for clients at the ten-day hearing. Students also gain substantive legal and system knowledge through the classroom component of the clinic. Role Plays, simulation exercises, and “case rounds” allow students to perfect their lawyering and litigation skills with thoughtful feedback from faculty and student colleagues.
While the clinic is available to upper-level students only, first-year students may attend the Domestic Violence Institute’s annual fall conference, which introduces incoming students to legal advocacy for victims of domestic violence in Massachusetts. First-year students with an interest in immediate training and volunteer opportunities may also apply to join LAV/DVI, a volunteer project in which law students, in collaboration with Casa Myrna Vazquez, the Brookview House, and the Women’s Safety Network, bring legal assistance to those places victims first seek help, with a special focus on outreach to housing assistance programs and faith based communities. Students may also gain academic credit and experience representing battered women in complex family law cases handled in the Probate Courts through independent study and cooperative education placements at legal services offices, legal projects at domestic violence shelters and other community agencies, and at the offices of private practitioners affiliated with the Institute.
Professor Margo Lindauer heads both the Domestic Violence Clinic and the Domestic Violence Institute, an education, service and research organization dedicated to combating partner abuse and sexual assault.
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