ABA expands legal tools to help support domestic violence victims

For nearly 28 years, the American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence (CDSV) has been a vital national resource for lawyers who represent victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence. This past Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, the CDSV was pleased to announce an expansion of its work through the creation of resources needed to build thriving domestic and sexual violence legal programs.

“Expanding our work to support and strengthen law office management practices for frontline domestic violence attorneys directly benefits those attorneys and their clients,” said Maricarmen Garza, chair of the commission. “These tools will support the supervision and mentoring of new generations of attorneys and will also establish protocols for high-quality, trauma-informed services to clients.”

Through decades of experience, the CDSV has observed that legal service providers who represent domestic and sexual violence clients require proper training and supervision. In response, the commission convened a national steering committee to create the Standards of Practice for the Supervision of Domestic & Sexual Violence Attorneys. The standards establish best practice guidelines for the successful supervision of domestic and sexual violence lawyers.  

To order a free copy of the standards, visit www.americanbar.org/products.

The CDSV also is publishing the Model Legal Services Agreement (MLSA), a tool that provides sample language and guidance for lawyers representing victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

The MLSA will support existing organizations to update their legal service agreements and help new legal programs establish strong policies and protocols for trauma-informed, client-centered representation.  For additional information on the MLSA, visit www.americanbar.org/groups/domestic_violence.

“Our framework is that the substantive legal work matters, as does the infrastructure to create an ethical, client-centered workplace that supports employees to stay in this important work for the long term,” said Anya Lynn-Alesker, chief counsel with CDSV.

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