April 01, 2017

Pro Bono/Domestic Violence Victims

Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) are seeking to help victims of domestic violence access legal services by reintroducing bipartisan legislation on March 23. S. 717, the Pro Bono Work to Empower and Represent (POWER) Act, will encourage lawyers across the country “to get involved and help victims who too often fear or are unfamiliar with the justice system,” Sullivan explained in a press release announcing introduction of the legislation. The bill would direct U.S. attorneys to hold a minimum of one event annually to promote pro bono legal assistance for domestic violence and sexual assault victims and submit reports on the events to the Department of Justice, which will then compile an annual report to Congress. Sullivan noted that about 25 percent of women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Also notable is that the success rate for a survivor obtaining a protective order against an attacker increases by over 50 percent when the survivor is represented by an attorney. “No victim of domestic violence should have to live in fear for their safety because they can’t afford legal protection,” Heitkamp said. “We can do better.” The ABA supports the expansion of pro bono legal services by all lawyers as a critical priority and adopted policy in 1997 urging that “federal, state, territorial, tribal, local governments and private entities make the establishment of programs addressing domestic violence a priority,” and that the access to legal services for such victims be ensured.

 

 

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