Domestic Violence Project Overview
The Domestic Violence Project (DVP) is an innovative model—a hybrid of outside placement and clinical education. Students will work as domestic violence lawyers with public interest groups and government and pro bono lawyers in the field, as well as on-site in local and national legal organizations. While students work with outside organizations in the field, the seminar component provides a specialized focus on domestic violence. Students receive individual support and supervision from a professor who is a leading domestic violence lawyer. Students’ experiences in the field provide grist for the larger discussion of lawyering in the battered women’s movement, the role of lawyers in the history of the movement, and the rewards and challenges of this kind of work for social and legal change. The course also provides hands-on skill development in interviewing and counseling, motion drafting and strategy, and appellate advocacy.
Student fieldwork in the Domestic Violence Clinic may include:
• Interviews with clients and witnesses, preparation of pleadings and testimony, and participation in trial work with local legal services, immigration and women’s rights organizations (Tahirih Justice Center, AYUDA);
• Working on national policy development and federal legislation, including researching and drafting legislation, attending meetings with other national public interest groups, and lobbying Congress under the auspices of a national domestic violence organization such as the National Network to End Domestic Violence;
• Working on issues relating to children, youth and domestic violence with Break the Cycle or other organizations;
• Working with Professor Meier and her non-profit organization, the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP), on appeals in constitutional, criminal and family law cases in state courts and the Supreme Court, and pro bono lawyers from law firms;
• Working in the Domestic Violence Unit of a local prosecutor’s office
Collaboration with an Innovative Public Interest Project
As one possible placement, interested students assist Professor Meier on litigating appeals or other activities conducted through her non-profit organization, the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP). DV LEAP was launched in response to the problems experienced in domestic violence litigation around the country. Despite significant legal and court reforms, women and children often fail to receive adequate protection from the courts. Through Professor Meier and a network of law firms, DV LEAP offers appellate representation to parties or amici curiae in cases with important legal issues in order to ensure that they are fully considered. It is also DV LEAP’s intention to further the creation of a body of well-developed appellate law that will enhance the litigation of domestic violence cases at all levels. DV LEAP has an impressive record of success in the DC Court of Appeals, and with the help of students has filed amicus briefs in seven Supreme Court cases.