Faculty Post: Discussing Domestic Violence

by Jennifer Howard, Supervising Attorney of the Domestic Violence Institute

A woman steals her roommate’s food and an altercation ensues. When asked to clean up his trash, a brother consistently berates his sister, to the point she is afraid to come out of her room. Shelter mates “fight” over time in the bathroom and one continually stares down the other, causing fear. To force her partner to move out of the doorway and let her leave their apartment, a woman throws a remote control, knocking her partner in the eye.   A mother stabs a father’s arm with a fork to stop him from chasing after their teenage daughter. Each of these scenarios involves the use of violence within the context of a special relationship and each of them might constitute grounds for a restraining order in Massachusetts.   But should they?

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Faculty Post: Lessons From a Law School Clinic

by Jennifer Howard

As officers of the court, fluent in the language, creators of, or at least participants in, its local practices, lawyers sometimes forget that many would-be litigants enter the courthouse with much trepidation and misinformation. While law school on the whole seeks to prepare students for their role as knowledgeable problem solvers, clinics provide students with a unique opportunity to learn about how to use that knowledge to help real people, with real problems. Explaining the legal system is one of an attorney’s most important tasks.

The Domestic Violence Institute at Northeastern University School of Law currently offers students two opportunities to learn to advocate for survivors of domestic violence: one through the Legal Assistance to Victims Project, a new community lawyering project aimed at connecting survivors to legal services at those places they first turn to for help; the other, through the Domestic Violence Clinic, founded in 1991. While both programs strive to educate students about the unique challenges faced by survivors navigating the legal system; it is the Clinic that delivers the chance to advocate in court on their behalf. The experience of direct, in-court advocacy provides soon to be lawyers many important lessons.

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More great news from NUSL

I also couldn’t forget to give you the scoop about the newest clinic-to-be at NUSL: Professors Rashmi Dyal-Chand and James Rowan recently won a $500,000 grant from the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to start up a legal clinic aiming to help low-income people start and engage in business. Examples of the kinds of legal services the clinic will provide include assistance with documents relating to licenses, permits, zoning, and leases; drafting, reviewing, and negotiating loan documents; and help with agreements relating to intellectual property rights. Even better: this clinic will be staffed by NUSL students and is slated to kick off in the spring.
You can read more about this great new opportunity here: http://www.northeastern.edu/law/news/announcements/2011/clinic-business-grant.html

Exciting things are happening at NUSL!