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Domestic Violence Clinic / LAW 674 

Course Instructor: Clinical Assistant Professor Gail Thomas

The Domestic Violence provides legal representation to victims of domestic violence in Jackson, Williamson and Union counties. The Clinic is open to any student who has completed the first year of legal studies and is in good academic standing. See the School of Law Rules relating to Clinics and Field Placements document for more details about enrollment in clinical courses.

Those students who wish to utilize an Illinois Student Practice License (711 License) must have completed 45 hours of law credit and be in good academic standing. Having a 711 License allows students to represent clients and appear in court under the supervision of a licensed attorney. Students who have not completed the requirements for obtaining a 711 License may still enroll in the course, but the work they can perform is more limited.

In the Domestic Violence Clinic, students work with the course instructor, who is an experienced clinic attorney, in representing victims of domestic violence in Jackson, Williamson and Union counties. In most cases, students will be representing clients who are seeking orders of protection. Because such cases are completed quickly after they are filed, students can expect to handle cases from the initial interview to a final court appearance. The course instructor supervises all legal work. 

Students in the Domestic Violence Clinic learn and practice skills that are essential to any law practice. In an average order of protection case, students will interview the client, prepare the client for a hearing, appear before the court in a contested or uncontested hearing, prepare an order for the court, and follow through with the necessary steps to make the order enforceable. To accomplish all of these tasks takes skills in communication, counseling, problem solving, investigation, and case management. 

In addition to representing clients, the Domestic Violence Clinic has a classroom component in which students learn the history of domestic violence, the current approach to domestic violence, and some of the problems with that approach. Students are also required to observe the court in action and assess what impact the court has on a victim and a perpetrator of domestic violence. 

Domestic Violence Victim Representation Program

Although not a clinical program, students enrolled in the Domestic Violence Clinic are eligible to “shadow” private attorneys representing victims of domestic violence in six Illinois counties: Saline, Johnson, Pope, Alexander, Pulaski, and Massac. The Victim Representation Program is funded by a grant from the Illinois Attorney General's Office. The program is coordinated by the Director of the Legal Clinic. Private attorneys are contracted with to accept referrals of domestic violence from victim advocates in the service area.

These attorneys represent victims in the plenary order of protection hearing and other civil matters that help the victim get out of a violent situation. The Domestic Violence Clinic staff attorney serves as a legal resource to the contract attorneys as well as to victim advocates. Law students enrolled in the Domestic Violence Clinic are welcome to observe the contract attorneys in their work with victims if their class schedules allows.