The Domestic Violence Representation Project is a 3 credit, pass/fail, one-semester experiential course taught in both the fall and spring semesters in which third-year law students represent low-income clients in civil matters aimed at assisting clients in safely leaving abusive relationships. Principally, students represent clients in domestic violence protective order hearings in District Court in Orange and Chatham Counties. Additional comprehensive representation extends to related family law matters, including child custody and divorce, and other collateral matters.
Cases are referred through Legal Aid of North Carolina by local domestic violence agencies, law enforcement, and other advocacy programs, and faculty assign cases on a weekly basis to students who work in teams of two and consult with each other regularly and during weekly team meetings with their faculty supervisor.
Students are given as much autonomy as possible in making decisions about their cases. Students collaborate with local advocacy agencies, service providers, and law enforcement, and negotiate with opposing attorneys and pro se adverse parties. Throughout the semester, students have multiple court appearances on domestic violence protective order hearings and are required to prepare for trials, including planning and conducting direct and cross examinations of witnesses, preparing opening statements and closing arguments, and drafting pleadings and legal memoranda on various issues as they arise.