Domestic Violence Project

Domestic Violence Project Overview

The Domestic Violence Project (DVP) introduces students to a variety of different forms of legal advocacy on behalf of victims of domestic violence and their children. DVP students co-enroll in Law 6688 and work in a range of domestic violence field placements which can involve direct representation or advocacy for individual clients; prosecution of domestic violence cases in state attorneys’ offices; civil legal representation with local legal service organizations; and legislative and policy work for national or local domestic violence advocacy organizations. Students gain transferable lawyering skills while learning about social change lawyering and issues in domestic violence law. The course provides students an opportunity to engage in real-world advocacy for clients, cases, and policy, while also focusing on their own professional development, with ongoing mentoring from the professor through small group supervision and the exchange of journals and responses.  

Lawyering Experience

Student fieldwork in the Domestic Violence Clinic may include:

• Working on civil litigation including interviews with clients and witnesses, preparation of pleadings and testimony, and participation in family law, domestic violence, trafficking and/or Title IX cases with local legal services organizations (e.g., Legal Aid Society; Network for Victim Recovery of DC; Amara);

• Working on immigration and human rights cases and projects, as well as civil litigation (e.g., AYUDA; Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center; Tahirih Justice Center);

• Working on national or local policy development and federal legislation, including researching and drafting legislation, attending meetings with other national public interest groups, and lobbying Congress or the DC Council under the auspices of a national or local domestic violence organization such as the National Network to End Domestic Violence or the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence;

• Working on issues relating to children, youth and domestic violence with Break the Cycle and Child Justice;

• Working in the Domestic Violence Unit of a local prosecutor’s office or the U.S. Attorneys' Office as either an intern working closely with felony and misdemeanor prosecutors on their cases, or, in some instances as a certified law student appearing in court. 

Domestic Violence Project Additional Information

Students are selected based on their interest in domestic violence issues, as well as any past experience and potential future aspirations related to the topic. An aspiration towards public interest work is also considered. Professor Meier tries to select students with different backgrounds and experiences, but a common desire to serve victims of domestic violence, a desire to learn about the issue, and the desire to gain invaluable experience are three important considerations.

Each semester, the clinics hold an Open House where each clinic’s faculty is available to answer questions, but students may also contact Professor Meier at any time for more information. 

Eligibility Information

2L and 3L students are eligible to apply.  There are no prerequisites, but some familiarity with domestic violence issues or domestic violence law is helpful. Family law and trial advocacy–either in the past or concurrently–can be useful. 

For more detailed information, please login to the Portal. A complete set of application instructions is posted a few weeks prior to the registration period for the upcoming semester. 


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DV LEAP 10th Anniversary Video

Learn more about DV LEAP.

Joan Meier

Faculty - Joan S. Meier

Joan S. Meier, Professor of Clinical Law

DVP Alumni

DVP Alumni Reunite

DVP alumni reunite at a recent national conference: from left, Tamaso Johnson, JD '12, Policy Director for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Bonnie Carlson, JD '12, Training and Technical Assistance Attorney, ABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence.