Domestic Violence Clinic

Law students in the Domestic Violence Clinic provide transformative legal representation to domestic violence survivors and their children.

Clinic students with client

Prof. Jane Stoever, Director, Domestic Violence Clinic; Shuray Ghorishi, Senior Attorney, Family Violence Appellate Project; Julia Taing, Domestic Violence Clinic Law Intern; and Erika Bertelsen, Domestic Violence Clinic Law Intern.

Students gain experience in multiple areas of the law and develop multi-dimensional lawyering skills while evaluating the benefits and limits of various interventions in the complex problem of domestic violence. Students primarily represent low-income abuse survivors in restraining order and family law trials and immigration matters. Because the Clinic strives to provide holistic services, students also represent clients in public benefits, housing and criminal cases and collaborate with community partners to address clients’ safety and support needs.

Students in the Domestic Violence Clinic learn to be client-centered, culturally sensitive and reflective advocates while they hone their trial and lawyering skills and help clients achieve freedom from violence. To produce broader systemic change, students also engage in community education or policy advocacy projects.


“Our client might be able to actually live a happy and fulfilling life one day despite the abuse she faced over the last decade. If that happens, if she gets that chance, it will have been because of our hard work. It was one of the first times I’ve felt truly fulfilled in my life.”Andrew Kantor ’14, Associate, Kantor & Kantor, LLP, Northridge, CA


End Result: Empowerment

Clients and students alike offer testimony of the Clinic’s impact:

  • “I wanted you to know how much you’ve done for my life. I was worn out, emotionally drained and growing more discouraged by the day as I struggled to navigate my way through the court system. When you stepped in to help, it was like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”Client in the Domestic Violence Clinic
  • “I had the privilege of working with one particular client who had a horrific past of years of abuse by a husband who purported to love her. He intentionally burned her with a hot iron, choked her until she passed out, punched her in the face, slammed her onto the ground and kicked her, among other abuse. I met this client after she and her young children finally escaped her husband and were living in a shelter. I was immediately blown away by her courage and commitment to seeking safety for her children. After a contested trial, she was awarded a five-year restraining order with full legal and physical custody of her children. Preparing for the trial was hard work, but at no point did I feel anything but commitment and excitement. I came away from that courtroom experience with a new sense of confidence in my abilities as an advocate. Through our fact investigation for the restraining order, my partner and I also realized that this client qualified for immigration relief under the Violence Against Women Act, and we submitted her VAWA self-petition for legal permanent residency. Even more importantly, we showed this client that she was capable of starting over and that we believed in her.”Jessica Garland ’15

Case Example: Comprehensive Representation from Temporary Restraining Order to Appellate Advocacy

The UCI Law Domestic Violence Clinic has many amazing stories of serving clients in crisis in comprehensive and transformative ways. In addition to representing clients in family court and immigration matters, recent work has included domestic and international child abduction cases, amicus briefs, #MeToo community education, and co-counseling an appeal.

The need for an appeal arose when a UCI Law Domestic Violence Clinic client was wrongly denied a restraining order after trial. The DV Clinic was concerned about the court’s erroneous ruling and our client’s need for protection from abuse, and co-counseled an appeal with the Family Violence Appellate Project. The appellate court in NT v. HT (G055885) ruled in our client’s favor and made important determinations about the law, which will positively impact abuse survivors in California.

After our client filed for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO) against her husband, the court awarded a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and set a hearing to determine if a permanent DVRO should issue. The survivor husband violated the TRO multiple times, including repeatedly using visitation exchanges to try to coerce our client into returning to the relationship, locating and appearing at her confidential address (as witnessed and photographed by our client’s friend), and giving her a spiritually abusive letter. Her husband did not deny any of the violations and admitted to most of them; however, the trial court denied the request for a DVRO, concluding that violating a TRO is not in and of itself abuse and that the violations were only “technical.”

The California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District Division Three issued a strong opinion reversing the denial of the DVRO. First, it held the trial court erred in ruling that a violation of a TRO was not itself an act of abuse because the Domestic Violence Prevention Act defines abuse as “engag[ing] in any behavior that has been or could be enjoined pursuant to Section 6320,” and the record was replete with examples of the husband’s behaviors that had been enjoined. Second, it held the trial court erred in ruling the alleged conduct would not independently constitute abuse. We are inspired by our client’s courage and persistence in seeking court protection and by our students’ incredible advocacy from the trial court through the appeal! Our publication request in NT v. HT was granted, meaning the opinion has long-lasting impact for domestic abuse survivors in California.

Learn more about the Domestic Violence Clinic (PDF) >

In the News