I began my journey in the legal field in 2008. I was in the process of obtaining my ABA paralegal certification, and began searching for opportunities to gain hands on experience. I was fortunate enough to gain an internship with Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Domestic Violence Project. Under direction of the project’s supervising attorney, Deborah Kelly, I began assisting in pro per clients with DV temporary restraining orders and declarations. I am generally an empathetic person and initially was not sure how I would cope the clients accounts of abuse. I remembered telling myself, if this individual has the courage to try to change their situation, then I intern could be professional and keep my own emotions in check. Some days were certainly easier than others. On average, 30 to 50 clients utilize the DV project’s services. For the project staff, interns, and volunteer this requires extreme efficiency. Filing deadlines of the court, language barriers and the high emotional state of clients are not always easy to handle.
As a paralegal intern, you spend a short time with the client going through the DV forms and begin to learn more about the instances of abuse; Past and current. Clients breakdown in tears, and some bare marks physical abuse. Each story is unique, yet themes of control, uncontrollable anger, and a sense of no way out still linger in my mind even now.
I cannot begin to express the relief on the faces of clients who were granted a Temporary Restraining Orders. Perhaps it is just the relief, or maybe it is a step toward healing and the hope that peace can be restored in their lives.
I think of DV victims that never had that same opportunity and hope that those who find themselves stuck in a DV situation can find the strength to speak up for themselves.
For more information visit Domestic Violence Project or victims may seek assistance in the following locations:
Los Angeles Superior Court Pasadena Superior Court
Department 8, Room 245 Room 100B
111 N. Hill Street 300 E. Walnut Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012 Pasadena, CA 91101
8:30-11:30a.m. and 1:30.-3:30p.m. 8:30-11:30a.m.