“Volunteer Attorney of the Day lawyers play a vital role in providing legal services for domestic violence victims who are often need legal help to gain safety and stability through the court system.” –Joe Dailey
LSNV created the Attorney of the Day Program (AOD), to help low-income victims of domestic violence get protective orders so that they, and their families, stay safe. The concept of the program is simple: rather than attempt to secure representation for protective order hearings at the last minute, LSNV asks pro bono attorneys to commit to the cases on a specific date. This permits attorneys–who are otherwise willing but whose schedules are often full–to plan their volunteering months in advance. LSNV provides free CLE training at least once a year to familiarize attorneys with the law and the process in exchange for two days each year. Dan Schy, one of LSNV’s pro bono volunteers, says AOD “is a great opportunity for lawyers to get in the courtroom and give back to the community.”
Recently, AOD got a huge boost when Dan and several other volunteer attorneys: Amy Bradley, Joe Dailey, and Laura O’Brien agreed to act as the Attorney of the Day Steering Committee. In addition to taking cases themselves, they reach out to their networks of fellow attorneys to help LSNV fill its AOD calendar with pro bono volunteers. Having more AOD volunteers has helped LSNV increase its ability to serve domestic violence survivors as Amy puts it: “we are so very appreciative of the volunteers for the Attorney of the Day program. We could not continue to serve the hundreds of victims of domestic violence without the dedication of these selfless attorneys who dedicate their time to serving members of the community in need.”
There are still spots on the AOD schedule, and training is available. Pro bono work has great rewards, as Laura notes, “participating in the AOD Program…is extremely fulfilling. The most gracious and appreciative clients I’ve had the pleasure of working with are through pro bono work.”
Find out more about AOD by contacting our pro bono office.
“If you don’t want constructive criticism and tips for how to be a better lawyer, you’ve chosen the wrong profession.” Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge, Stanley P. Klein, offered this sound advice before beginning his comments at LSNV’s intern mock trial last week. Six of LSNV’s law student summer interns (pictured above L-R): Terence O’Donnell, Rebecca Neville, Sarah Imam, Mary Louise Urban, MiQuel Davies, and Kyle Simpson were given the opportunity to co-counsel each side of a “mock” protective order case.
The students broke into teams of three and took on the roles of counsel for Petitioner and Respondent. LSNV staff attorneys put on their best performances and played the roles of parties and witnesses – difficult and uncooperative witnesses.
Although this was a mock trial, Judge Klein ruled on objections just as he would in any real case. Afterward, he took the time to give each intern constructive, individualized feedback, which was useful to all the attorneys in the room, old and new.
Only two of the students had third-year practice certificates and had taken evidence, but all six did a phenomenal job. Even with all the stress of preparing and trying their first case, the students agreed that the trial was an exciting and eye-opening experience—and a great way to wrap up their summer at LSNV!
In May, LSNV welcomed an exceptional group of interns to assist in each of our offices for the summer: MiQuel Davies (William & Mary Law School), Brittany Dunn-Pirio (Washington and Lee University School of Law), Sarah Imam (George Mason University School of Law),Bethany Kehne (University of Virginia, 4th Year), Rebecca Neville (Catholic University, Columbus School of Law),Terence O’Donnell (Duquesne University School of Law), Kyle Simpson (George Mason University School of Law) and Marylouise Urban (George Mason University School of Law). We recently had the opportunity to ask our interns why they were interested in civil legal aid and how they saw their internship fitting into their plans for the future.
Our interns came to law school from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and that definitely influences their passion for the work we do. Marylouise explained, “After leaving the Army, I moved to a small town [with a high poverty rate]. There was only one legal aid attorney. . . I felt very strongly that a person’s financial situation shouldn’t prevent him from getting legal assistance.” Kyle points out that after he spent many years working for other anti-poverty and immigration-related nonprofits, law school would enable him to “have a more direct impact in improving the daily lives of those who need help the most.” For Sarah and MiQuel, the interest in legal aid was honed during college. MiQuel notes that “volunteering with women’s shelters and non-profit organizations whose mission was to support under-served women . . . I realized that I wanted to obtain more permanent solutions for [them]. Civil legal aid seems to be the best avenue for obtaining the solution these women deserved.”
Their summer at LSNV has given our interns a greater understanding of their future careers in the law. For Rebecca, “this internship gives me my first real experience of what working in Northern Virginia will be like as an attorney.” Terrence credits his work with LSNV for giving him real life experience “I am lucky to be working in the Arlington office…Jessica [LSNV attorney, Jessica Killeen] and I stopped an eviction on my third day, and its only gotten better!” Her time with LSNV helped Brittany clarify her decision to be a lawyer “I cannot say enough wonderful things about LSNV. I honestly thought that I no longer wanted to be an attorney, but I have enjoyed every single day of my internship.”
We thank our interns for their help, and will miss them when they head back to school.
TOM MURPHY of Hunton & Williams is a regular volunteer at Legal Services of Northern Virginia assisting indigent and underserved residents of Northern Virginia with employment issues.
Recently Mr. Murphy went above and beyond in a very limited time situation to assist a client in need of services. Our office greatly appreciates his contribution to our mission and his committment to pro bono work.
Thank you Mr. Murphy!