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Pro Bono week focuses on help for domestic violence survivors

Lawyers and law firms across the country are participating in volunteer events as part of the National Celebration of Pro Bono, which runs Oct. 20-26. This year, ABA President Judy Perry Martinez is highlighting the need for legal assistance for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

The ABA offers a free toolkit focused on helping victims of domestic and sexual violence.

The ABA offers a free toolkit focused on helping victims of domestic and sexual violence.

American Bar Association graphic

“I had the privilege of serving as chair of the ABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence, and I saw firsthand the importance of pro bono legal services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault,” Martinez said. “Legal assistance can literally mean the difference between life and death. Mobilizing lawyers throughout the country to provide services for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors during the National Celebration of Pro Bono is part of our long-term commitment to furthering access to justice. Having the opportunity to serve will make us all better lawyers and better people.”

The National Celebration of Pro Bono began in 2009 to showcase the difference that pro bono lawyers can make to the nation, to the justice system, to communities and most of all to the clients who are served. In the last 11 years, more than 8,000 events have taken place in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Canada.

In the past five years, the national celebration has focused on specific themes, including service to veterans, homeless youth and disaster resiliency.

Among the upcoming events taking place are:

  • On Oct. 21 and 24, the Washington Council of Lawyers and the Network for Victim Recovery of D.C. will hold a tour of the D.C. Superior Court to show attorneys the process for assisting survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault using civil protection orders and crime victims’ rights.
  • In Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Oct. 25, the University of Arkansas School of Law will hold a family law clinic to support survivors of domestic violence.
  • In Hempstead, New York, on Oct 25, Hofstra University School of Law is offering training on representing victims of domestic abuse in divorce proceedings.  
  • On Oct. 25, the Los Angeles County Law Library is offering domestic violence restraining order training.
  • In Maryville, Tennessee, on Oct. 26, Legal Aid of East Tennessee will provide free legal advice for victims of domestic violence. 

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