NVRDC Pro Bono Portal
HAVE YOU ALREADY BEEN TRAINED BY NVRDC AND ARE READY TO TAKE ON A PRO BONO CASE? CLICK ON THE APPLICABLE LINK BELOW TO LOGIN TO OUR PRO BONO PORTAL FOR RESOURCES, FORMS, AND MORE.
If you are interested in learning more about what opportunities and trainings are available for pro bono attorneys through NVRDC, see below and reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
NVRDC aims to change the impact of victimization by providing holistic, comprehensive services to all crime victims in DC. This includes civil and crime victims' rights legal services, advocacy, and case management. However, as we aim to serve all of our clients with excellence and integrity, our limited resources often force us to choose between two evils - turning away survivors seeking our help or risking jeopardizing the consistent quality of our services.
With DC heading toward the highest number of homicides in one year since 2008, our services are in high demand now more than ever. Need for NVRDC’s services for families of homicide victims continues to grow. We have also seen our highest rates of survivors seeking our advocacy services through the Sexual Assault Crisis Response Program over the past few months, with 51 cases needing crisis response to the hospital in August 2015 alone. This program also saw a 12% increase in survivors seeking assistance from 2014 to 2015.
A significant amount of these survivors seek legal assistance, consisting of anything from brief advice through our Walk-in Legal Clinic to full representation in one, two, or three of the case types discussed below. Without pro bono help, we would be unable to meet the need for our services.
Our pro bono opportunities come in three forms: Civil Protection Orders, Crime Victims' Rights, and Title IX/Clery Act Campus-based Representation. For these cases, pro bono attorneys are paired with staff attorneys in our organization to co-counsel a case so that individual pro bono attorneys can decide how large of a role they feel comfortable playing in a case. The attorney may choose to first-chair a CPO hearing, conduct crime victims' rights research behind the scenes, or anything in between.
For Civil Protection Order (CPO) cases, attorneys get experience litigating in a concentrated form; the majority of CPO cases are completed within two weeks and almost all of them are done within a month. Since each CPO case requires us to prepare for a full hearing, our typical pro bono attorney uses a CPO case as an opportunity to get experience drafting and conducting a direct examination and opening statement. With our experienced attorneys there to assist, give feedback, and co-chair, CPO cases are a good way for young associates to gain experience litigating in court without feeling the pressure of taking on a case alone. The bulk of most CPO cases are focused on preparing for and being in court. CPO cases can also, if the pro bono attorney wants, involve a significant amount of client interaction.
Meanwhile, the Crime Victims' Rights (CVR) case representation is shaped a little differently. CVR cases involve a smaller amount of time commitment over a longer period, with a greater focus on conducting research and writing motions, rather than appearing in court. Criminal cases (particularly if charged as a felony) last over a year, so the role that pro bono attorneys take can differ significantly between individual attorneys’ schedules. In most CVR cases where we ask for assistance it is for a specific issue, like subpoena defense or the victim's restitution request. These cases tend to be a good fit for busy attorneys who want to include a few hours of pro bono work in their schedule; sometimes staying for the entirety of a case, other times only doing a discrete research project during its pendency. These discrete research projects can also involve technical oral arguments before a judge. Some of the most intense violence, stalking behaviors, or abuse can be seen in these cases or can involve very interesting legal issues for attorneys to help us tackle. These cases can have little-to-no client interaction or the attorney can fully dive in, attending meetings or even court with the client on the days she has to testify, working to protect her crime victims' rights throughout the process.
Finally, Title IX/Clery Act-based campus representation cases have even more room for new, strange, and interesting issues to come up, because this area can feel a bit like the Wild West. Under Title IX, universities are required to have on-campus procedures for student survivors of intimate partner abuse, stalking, or sexual assault to report any sexual harassment or violence and pursue a disciplinary proceeding.
Under the Clery Act, universities must publish statistics regarding what crimes are being perpetrated against their students—both on and off-campus—as well as accommodate some specific needs of student survivors.
However, universities in DC are constantly changing their policies and the ways they carry out their required investigations, so we have found there is a lot of room for advocacy, and a need for flexibility, in these cases. Pro bono attorneys in the past have played roles anywhere from helping advocate for a student's immediate needs (like class schedule changes) to representing a student throughout an on-campus investigation, hearing/appeals process, submitting complaints with the Department of Justice, and exploring lawsuit options under Title IX.