Family Law Project for Domestic Abuse Survivors
The Family Law Project for Survivors of Domestic Abuse (FLP) has two primary objectives. The first is to empower domestic violence survivors by giving them a voice in their abuse prevention hearings and family law cases. We seek to prevent further abuse, homelessness, loss of child custody, and to decrease repeated court hearings. The Project's second objective is to engage lawyers in pro bono service. The WBF carries liability insurance and covers every case referred through our program. Every volunteer attorney is paired with a mentor who provides support every step of the way. There is no requirement for litigation or family law experience to volunteer; only empathy and a willingness to help a client navigate a difficult situation. WBF has several ways to support survivors depending on the volunteer's workload and style.
Get Legal Help
“I’ve known for a long time this would end with him killing me,” Erica* told her WBF attorney.
Erica left Marcus* after an abusive six month relationship. After leaving, she spent years trying to escape him. First, Erica moved to a new apartment while Marcus was in jail for gang-related activity. As soon as he was released, he tracked down Erica and tried to light her apartment on fire, dousing it in kerosene. Fortunately, he was scared off by a neighbor. Later, he returned and kicked the door down and threatened Erica with a machete. Marcus was arrested again.
When Marcus was released, he sent his brother to threaten Erica, saying “Marcus is coming.” Erica fled that very day. She moved to a domestic violence shelter more than 8 hours away. Still, she was not free from Marcus. She continued to receive harassing phone calls and emails.
Erica needed a restraining order. She went to court twice, alone, to petition for a restraining order, but she was denied. Because she had moved out of state to flee her abuser, the judge believed the Massachusetts court did not have jurisdiction over Erica’s case. Erica, not being a lawyer, was confused and unsure of how to proceed.
Fortunately, Erica found the WBF and was provided a pro bono attorney. Her attorney accompanied her to court, arguing that the Massachusetts court did have jurisdiction over Erica’s case. The WBF-trained attorney convinced the judge that a restraining order was necessary and appropriate. Erica now has the protection of a restraining order, and remains safe in an undisclosed location.
Every day hundreds of women like Erica face a daunting, complicated legal system. At the Women's Bar Foundation, our volunteer attorneys ensure that women like Erica do not have to face that system alone.
To reach the intake line, please call 617.973.6666 x 2216.
*Names and identifying information have been changed to protect the survivor.
Are you a law student looking for an internship opportunity with the WBF?
WBF hosts student interns on a semester basis. Applications are considered for the next semester on a rolling basis with interviews being conducted 4-6 weeks before the start of the semester Extensive training and support are provided. This is a hybrid opportunity located in Boston. Applicants must have reliable access to phone and internet. Spring and Fall semester interns must be available a minimum of 6 hours per week. Summer opportunities are full time and students must secure third party funding for the summer or participate in the program for course credit.
If you are interested in assisting low-income survivors of domestic abuse with their family law cases; helping elders prepare important legal documents; and are looking for a way to have a positive impact while honing your legal and communication skills working with a passionate and committed legal team, please read below for information on internship opportunities with the Women’s Bar Foundation.
Responsibilities and Opportunities include:
- Conducting screening interviews for potential clients
- Preparing client files for attorney review and referral
- Participating in weekly case review meetings to discuss potential clients and determine which cases are appropriate for referral to pro bono attorneys
- Collaborating with other legal services agencies, law firms, and advocacy groups to serve clients and improve policy
- Researching various legal issues involving jurisdiction, custody, and parenting time;
- Working with WBF staff on preparing and delivering trainings.
- Attending monthly Family Law clinics, monthly visits to Suffolk House of Corrections and community outreach events
- Assisting clients in their family law and restraining order cases pursuant to SJC Rule 3:03.
Required qualifications include:
- Interest in working with survivors of domestic abuse
- Commitment to helping indigent populations and people in crisis
- Strong verbal and written communication skills
- Ability to communicate effectively using virtual platforms and the telephone
- Ability to independently prioritize tasks with competing deadlines
- Attention to detail
- Bilingual strongly preferred