Domestic Violence Clinic

Beginning in Fall 2013, students in the Domestic Violence Clinic (“DVC”) will gain experience in multiple areas of the law and in multi-dimensional lawyering skills, while evaluating the benefits and limits of various interventions into the complex problem of domestic violence. 

Students will primarily represent domestic violence survivors who are seeking restraining orders in Orange County or petitioning to change their immigration status under the Violence Against Women Act.  Students can expect to assist clients with housing, public benefits, and other legal and non-legal issues to help clients achieve freedom from violence.  Students will also engage in a community legal education or policy advocacy project.  For example, students might conduct sessions on teen dating violence in a juvenile detention center. 

Restraining orders involve a wide array of injunctive relief, with orders often including safety provisions, child custody and support, spousal support, property, counseling, and other relief necessary to prevent violence.  When representing clients in restraining order cases, students will conduct intake interviews, assess clients’ legal options, counsel clients regarding legal and non-legal options, and draft and file court pleadings.  Upon filing petitions, students will represent clients in temporary restraining order hearings to provide immediate safety-related relief.  Students will perform research and fact investigation, handle settlement negotiations, and conduct all aspects of contested restraining order trials, including giving opening statements, calling witnesses and introducing exhibits into evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and delivering closing arguments.

The DVC will also represent domestic violence survivors in immigration cases under the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”), with specific case types including VAWA Self-Petitions, Battered Spouse Waivers, and U-Visas.  Student attorneys will assist clients in addressing safety, support, and immigration status issues as the students engage in client interviewing and counseling, obtain witness testimony, conduct research and fact investigation, prepare petitions, and appear before immigration officials for their clients’ immigration interviews. 

Student teams will meet with their professor(s) for supervision at least weekly to develop case plans and strategies, review trial preparation, and reflect on lawyering, domestic violence, and systemic responses.  The clinic seminar will address the theory and practice of advocacy and be structured largely around discussion, in-class exercises, and simulations to give student attorneys the opportunity to practice and hone skills related to client representation and advocacy.  Throughout the semester, we will also discuss insights gained from client representation and evaluate systemic and other forces affecting the efficacy of various domestic violence interventions.

Students must have either completed Evidence or be enrolled in Evidence while taking the Domestic Violence Clinic.

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