DVI Law & Order
From left: Katherine Harper ’17, Miranda Cover ’17, Professor Margo Lindauer ’07, Morgan Wilson ’17 and Tess Foley ’17.

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crimes and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. And then there are the Domestic Violence Clinic students.

These are their stories.

At Northeastern, we enjoy a good laugh. So, we hope you enjoy our fun “Law & Order” photo of Domestic Violence Clinic students on site at Boston Municipal Court –Dorchester Division. Of course, when it comes to domestic violence, we are quite serious. Our clinic students take a holistic lawyering role with their clients under the supervision of clinic faculty. Over the course of an academic quarter, every clinic student assists in the representation of three to four clients in restraining order hearings, including all stages of the restraining order process. This involves meeting the clients for the first time at the ex-parte phase, assisting in filling out the application, advocating for the client in front of the judge (either through eliciting testimony on direct or making a concise argument), assisting with service of the order, ongoing interviewing of the client and witnesses and amassing evidence. Our students also advocate for clients at the 10-day hearing, which can be an adversarial evidentiary hearing when defendants oppose the order. Frequently, our cases go to trial and the clinic students are well-prepared by our excellent faculty.

This is what our students have to say …

Morgan Wilson ’17

Morgan is currently attending the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, where she is pursuing a master’s degree in human rights, conflict and justice.

Morgan Wilson“As an aspiring public defender, I chose to apply for the DV Clinic in order to have a better understanding of the multiplicity of ways in which many indigent and low-income communities come into contact with the legal system, and how they are treated from a prosecutorial posture. It was also important to me to assess what resources are available for both abusers and their victims, as well as, to learn what, if any, rehabilitative measures are implemented in the Dorchester court. 

What most shocked me was the difficulty engaging with law enforcement with respect to serving ex parte orders. Often, it took multiple calls per day, for multiple days, to follow up on service attempts and to ensure the police were using all available information to serve defendants in an effective and efficient manner. 

Aside for learning under the tutelage of Professor Lindauer, my favorite part of the DV Clinic was client interaction. Being able to engage with clients and use my legal skills to help victims/survivors through a difficult time in their lives and the lives of their families reminds me each day that I made the right decision to practice law.”

Katherine Harper ’17

The real-life quest for law and order are at the top of Katherine’s agenda as an assistant district attorney in the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office in Savannah, Georgia.  

Katherine Harper“I chose Northeastern for law school specifically because of the DV Clinic. In the clinic, I was surprised by how much work we did with clients outside of the judicial system. We helped clients with housing appeals, divorce and child custody cases, accessing resources like therapy or civil attorneys, and many other issues.

What I liked best was the supportive group of students. During case rounds specifically, in which we went around the room to discuss difficult or challenging cases, everyone was extremely supportive and gave helpful suggestions for what to do next.”

And here is what 

Professor Margo Lindauer,

director of the clinic, wants you to know …

Margo Lindauer“Domestic Violence is a public health crisis. Data tells us that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Chances are that everyone knows someone who has been impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault. In the Domestic Violence Clinic, we approach this issue from an expansive lens. Though the legal work that we do focuses on litigation in the context of 209a restraining orders, we understand that the legal protection provided by the 209a order is only one component of a client’s story and legal needs.”

About Northeastern University School of Law

The nation’s leader in experiential legal education since 1968, Northeastern University School of Law offers the longest-running, most extensive experience-based legal education program in the country and is a national leader in legal education reform. Founded with cooperative legal education as the cornerstone of its program, Northeastern guarantees its students an unparalleled full year of practical legal work. All students participate in four, full-time legal placements, and can choose from the more than 900 employers worldwide participating in the school’s signature Cooperative Legal Education Program. The future of legal education for the past 45 years, Northeastern University School of Law blends theory and practice, providing students with a unique set of skills and experience to successfully practice law.

Photo credit: David Leifer