Battling Domestic Violence

by Press Release--Rutgers-Camden | Oct 30, 2008
Battling Domestic Violence October may be National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but students at the Rutgers School of Law—Camden battle domestic violence throughout the year.

And with good reason: victims of domestic violence suffer a nightmarish cycle of abuse that often seems impossible to break. That bleak scenario often is compounded by the details of seeking legal relief.

Now in its 13th year, the Domestic Violence Program at the Rutgers-Camden law school provides free legal assistance for victims who otherwise could not avail themselves of this much-needed service. Through this program, Rutgers-Camden law students can volunteer to work with the Camden County Family Court to help victims regain control of their lives by obtaining temporary restraining orders, completing criminal complaints, and preparing them for courtroom appearances. Rutgers-Camden law students in their final year of study can also provide direct representation in final restraining order hearings under the supervision of a clinical law professor.

The Rutgers-Camden program serves over 600 victims of domestic violence per year through the combined activities of the law clinic and the volunteer project. More than 20 Rutgers-Camden law students participate each semester by providing the free legal counseling and other services that help abused adults and children to break free from a tragic cycle of violence. Many of the law student volunteers are also bi-lingual, which increases the capacity of the organization to serve people with limited English proficiency.

Since its inception in 1995, the Rutgers-Camden Domestic Violence Program has helped more than 2,500 New Jersey citizens seeking restraining orders against abusive partners. During that time, more than 800 Rutgers-Camden law students have completed the school’s training program; since 2000, Rutgers-Camden has provided domestic violence assistance training to around 300 police officers, attorneys, and community service providers.

Recognizing the need for all attorneys to be able to recognize and respond to domestic violence matters, the Rutgers-Camden law school initiated one-hour domestic violence training sessions as a requirement for every first-year law student. Launched in 2002, this initiative made Rutgers-Camden the first law school in the nation to require domestic violence training for all of its students, according to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic Violence.

A desire to help others motivates these future lawyers. The Domestic Violence Project is one of several pro bono initiatives at the Rutgers School of Law—Camden that deliver free legal assistance to underserved populations in southern New Jersey. For more information about this project, visit org.law.rutgers.edu/o-dvp.

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Author: Press Release--Rutgers-Camden

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