December 01, 2014

ABA Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence, VAWA celebrate 20 years

Association receives high praise from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy

The ABA Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence (CDSV), which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of enactment of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), commemorated the occasion Nov. 19 with a reception in Washington, D.C.

ABA President William C. Hubbard, addressing a group of approximately 100 attendees, said that “the Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence has been the voice of the legal profession on the critical issues of protecting victims and their families for 20 years, and we plan to continue this essential work for years to come.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), appearing in a video about the commission shown for the first time at the reception, expressed high praise for the ABA’s work in fighting domestic violence and for the association’s strong support of VAWA. Leahy said he did not think Congress would have been able to pass VAWA reauthorization legislation in 2013 “had it not been for the help we got from the ABA.”

The commission was created by the ABA after release in August 1994 of The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children, a report produced by six ABA entities that recommended the creation of a multidisciplinary task force or commission on domestic violence. Roberta Cooper Ramo, who unveiled the report with then ABA President R. William Ide III, became the association’s first woman president the next year and made domestic violence a high priority for the association and the legal profession.

The commission, chaired by Miami lawyer Angela C. Vigil, conducts training to better equip lawyers to assist victims of domestic and sexual violence, provides legal resources to support lawyers who represent victims, connects lawyers with local organizations through its National Domestic Violence Pro Bono Directory, and develops important policies addressing domestic violence for adoption by the ABA House of Delegates.

The commission, which will continue its celebration through the next year, will give out 20 awards at a reception during the ABA Annual Meeting in August, conduct CLE programs, disseminate workplace policy adopted this year by the ABA, and encourage lawyers to volunteer to represent survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

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