Domestic Violence Clinic

"Almost four years later, and after numerous other 'real world' litigation experiences, the experience I had in the Domestic Violence Clinic is still the most memorable of my legal career.  You'll change lives."
                                                                                                                       -Ann, clinic alumna

"My life before was unsafe.  I was not happy and did not have peace.  Now I am very happy; I have my freedom, and I'm able to sleep, eat, work, and be happy with my kids."
                                                                                                                      -Former Clinic Client

Students in the Domestic Violence Clinic represent victims of intimate abuse in civil protection order (CPO) cases.  Protection orders typically include a broad spectrum of relief, designed to effectively end the violence in a family or dating relationship.  A CPO may direct a batterer to stop assaulting and threatening the victim, to stay away from the victim, her home, and her workplace, and not to contact her in any manner.  The CPO also may include an award of temporary custody of the parties' children, with visitation rights for the non-custodial parent, as well as an award of child support.

Clinic students have full responsibility for their cases and receive a challenging education in the art of trial advocacy under the intensive supervision of Clinic faculty.  Through course work and client representation, students learn to excel in every phase of expedited civil litigation, including pretrial skills (counseling, interviewing, investigation, and negotiation) and trial skills (opening statement, witness direct and cross examination, closing arguments).  Clinic participants become intimately familiar with both the extensive family and criminal law provisions applicable to their cases, as well as civil procedure and legal ethics.  Students gain expertise in the law of evidence, typically handling exhibits including photographs, tape recordings, weapons, police reports, and medical records.  In addition, students learn to navigate the criminal justice system by working closely with the U.S. Attorney's Office in prosecutions against their clients' abusive partners.

Every student represents 3-4 clients in CPO cases.  Although it is impossible to predict whether any particular case will settle or go to trial, every single Clinic student will have an opportunity to question one or more witness in an initial Temporary Protection Order hearing; and every student will have multiple opportunities to negotiate a settlement or go to trial.

Clinic students learn to:

  • Provide highly effective client representation;

  • Become creative, independent thinkers; and

  • Increase the effectiveness of civil and criminal justice system interventions in domestic

  • violence situations.

The DVC's mission:

  • Provide law students with an intensive, challenging education in the art of trial advocacy; and

  • Provide high quality representation to indigent victims of domestic abuse.

"The Domestic Violence Clinic was a great way for me to wet my feet on real legal work during my last year of law school when I felt so ready for the real world. It was a great hands-on learning experience that gave me the opportunity to assist clients who really needed some help and whose legal needs would have otherwise gone unserviced."
                                                                                                                       - Shannan, clinic alumna

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