Who We Are
Partners is a non-profit law firm that helps victims of domestic violence and their children escape abuse. We represent and assist women who cannot afford a lawyer. Our services are free.
Why a Victim Needs Us
What would you do without a lawyer? Put yourself in her shoes, a victim of domestic violence walking into a court room and sitting at an empty table. Your physical wounds may have healed, but the emotional scars linger. Looming in front of the room and high above is the judge, the person who will decide if the preponderance of evidence you present supports your need for the protection provided by a final restraining order. In walk your abuser and his lawyer. Not only are you alone, but you have to sit in the witness stand - less than five feet from your abuser - to tell your story of humiliation and pain at his hands. The burden is on you to lay out the facts of the abuse and convince the judge of your need for the protection of the law. If you have children you also need to insure that you come out of court with safe visitation arrangements and an award for child support. You are on your own.
It’s not like what you see on TV. You are in Family Court, not Criminal Court. You are not entitled to a court-appointed lawyer. The way to ensure your safety is a final restraining order. You have a job, but your income barely pays for necessities – if that - and is certainly not enough to pay for a lawyer. You are on your own.
Thanks to you and others like you, the 350 - 450 victims of domestic violence who contact Partners each year are not on their own.
What It Takes: Time and Talent
Client Interview. It takes an experienced paralegal to interview a client to ascertain the pertinent facts and gather relevant police reports, current and prior court orders, medical records, photographs of injuries, text messages, Facebook posts and other evidence. She then prepares a comprehensive write-up of the facts and prepares the file for review. Paralegal time required: 2 - 3 hours/matter.
Case Supervision and Mentoring. It takes our Director of Legal Programs to review every case file and assign the case to a staff attorney or a pro bono attorney. She supervises each case and confers about strategy. Supervising Attorney time required: 2 - 4 hours/matter
Trial Preparation. It takes a dedicated and skilled staff attorney or pro bono attorney to meet with a victim, prepare her and any witnesses for trial and represent her in court, usually with fewer than 10 days notice. Attorney pre-trial time required: 4 - 8 hours/matter
Altogether, it can take 8 to 15 hours to prepare for a trial and another 8 to 25 hours to try a case.