The Domestic Violence Litigation Clinic is a two semester clinic offered in partnership with the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), a not-for-profit organization providing free civil legal assistance to low and no-income individuals throughout the New York metropolitan area.
Working under the supervision of adjunct clinical faculty, students in the Clinic represent domestic violence victims seeking orders of protection, child custody and visitation. Cases are heard in the Family Court and Integrated Domestic Violence Courts in all five boroughs. The Clinic students may also represent the victim in any concurrent criminal proceeding, uncontested divorce and/or immigration cases under the Violence Against Women Act.
Guided by NYLAG’s student practice order, students handle all aspects of each case from inception to final disposition. As needed, they conduct client interviews, draft pleadings, negotiate settlements, make court appearances and conduct trials. Students complete the majority of case preparation at NYLAG’s office at 7 Hanover Square in Manhattan.
Amanda Beltz, Esq.
Adjunct Professor of Law[email protected]
Adjunct Professor of Law[email protected]
The Domestic Violence Litigation Clinic is a two-semester, eight-credit clinic (four credits/semester) open to second- and third-year students in good academic standing as well as to evening students who have significant availability during workday hours. Evidence and Trial Advocacy are pre- or co-requisites. Clinic students are also encouraged to take the Intensive Trial Advocacy, Pre-trial Advocacy, Family Law and the Sexual Assault Seminar.
All students in the Clinic must participate in the Domestic Violence Litigation Clinic Seminar, which covers substantive areas of law likely to be encountered in Clinic cases, trial advocacy and other necessary skills. The seminar meets once a week for two hours, either at the Law School or at NYLAG’s office at 7 Hanover Square in Manhattan, and also includes case reviews and skills simulation and critique.
In addition to taking the seminar class, Clinic students are also required to attend individual case meetings with Adjunct Professors Susser and Rivera at NYLAG.
Students can apply for the Domestic Violence Litigation Clinic during the spring semester for the following school year.
To apply for the Fall 2019 Clinic, students attend a Clinic Information Session, then complete the required fields of the Online Clinic Application and upload the following:
After submitting all required documents, an interview will be scheduled.
"My choice to pursue law school after being out of the school environment for four years was because of my desire to do public interest work. I wanted to help women that were victims of domestic violence because domestic violence had played such a large part in my childhood. I had firsthand experience with the emotional and physical side of domestic violence, but no understanding of the legal system.
Working at the Domestic Violence Litigation Clinic allowed me to gain that real-world legal experience and confidence necessary to pursue a career in this field. At first, I was very nervous because I had never really interacted with clients or appeared in court. The first time I was scheduled to appear in court, I repeated my appearance lines a thousand times in my head.
The classes were by far the most beneficial as my experience with domestic violence slowly started to make sense. Every class I walked away with an Aha! moment. We were there to help each woman find the most comfortable solution for her. If she felt an Order of Protection would make her feel safe, then I prepared the documents. If she wanted to stay, there were safety tips that I could offer to make her feel a little more secure.
Because of the constant guidance from the supervising attorneys, I began to enjoy every step of the process. Nothing is as powerful as appreciation and words of encouragement from a supervising attorney. My Clinic experience offered me the knowledge, skills and confidence necessary to advocate effectively for victims of domestic violence. The reality is I am not changing the world. But hopefully, I am changing one.”
“I found writing this reflection piece intriguing; I was so busy this year that I have not been able to sit down and take it all in. But when doing so, I was able to compare how I am now to the person who first began here eight months ago. The differences are stark. My experiences here contributed to that change.
One of my favorite things about the Domestic Violence Litigation Clinic was the variety of cases I was able to do. When I first started, I thought that the only thing I would be doing is family law. But what I didn’t understand is how many areas of the law that covers. I have worked on cases involving immigration, criminal law, divorce, along with the expected orders of protection, child and spousal support, and custody. The breadth of law that the clinical students are exposed to is extensive, which I benefited greatly from.
But the thing that I enjoyed the most is the reliance that my clients had of me. One of the first times I was in court, the court officer called me over for something, and he called me “counselor.” It was the first time I was called that. And it was the first time that I felt I was truly in charge and responsible for my clients interests and well-being. The Clinic does a great job in putting the responsibility on the students and making them feel not just involved in the cases, but to also be the driving force behind those cases.”