Legal Support for Women Escaping Domestic Violence

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Legal advice and advocacy
Estimated Time: 
To be determined
Start Date: 
We expect to hold an initial cohort meeting in the fall with interested attorneys. There is no set timeline for taking on an individual pro bono case; attorneys would be placed on referral list and contacted by us, when need arises, to determine availabi
Collaboration style: 
Set own schedule. Volunteer remotely and/or in-person. Work closely with professional staff and lay leadership.
Shalom Bayit

Scope & Deliverables


Legal representation is one of the most unmet needs of our clients in abusive relationships. Many need family law attorneys to assist with custody, restraining orders and divorce settlement issues. Yet most do not have the financial resources to hire a private attorney: they are victims of their spouse's economic control, are dependent on their abuser for financial support, may not have worked outside the home, and once separated need every available dollar for housing and basic subsistence for themselves and their children. We refer women to existing legal resources for low-income clients when possible. However, many of our clients do not qualify for these services either because of service limitations in their area, because their abusers' income disqualifies them even though they have no access to that income, or due to service agencies’ limited scope of reach. This leaves many battered women with no representation, while their abusers use their resources to retain top-notch representation. These conflicting realities trap victims of domestic violence, making the barriers to leaving an abusive relationship practically insurmountable.

With access to legal support, our clients will be able to protect themselves and their children from further abuse, and begin to rebuild their lives in peace and safety.

Scope of Work

We are seeking family law and other attorneys willing to play a role in supporting battered women to achieve better legal outcomes. Shalom Bayit will provide legal training as needed, led by family law specialists. Attorneys from all Bay Area locations are welcome since Shalom Bayit serves clients in all 9 counties; and, the trainings will be available by webinar.

The attorney’s role may include one or more of the following on behalf of a Shalom Bayit client -- victim of domestic violence:

  1. Provide occasional case consultation;
  2. Provide pro bono legal representation -- maximum one client  per year;
  3. For attorneys in non-family-law specialties, offer legal expertise in other fields (e.g., real estate, employment rights, contracts, estate planning), when needed;
  4. Conduct legal research;
  5. Be part of a cohort of colleagues coming together to learn about and advocate for the prevention of domestic violence in the Jewish community.

We understand that DV family cases can be time-intensive, and therefore will limit requests for pro bono work to one per year per attorney; we intend to cultivate a large enough pool of attorneys so as not to overtax anyone's generosity.

Project Results

The ability to secure pro bono legal counsel -- and the development of a cohort of attorneys who will strengthen our capacity to guide battered women through the legal process -- will dramatically change outcomes for Jewish battered women and their children. Access to legal services meets a critical, tangible need that is fundamental for abused women to achieve independence, safety, justice, and ultimately, healing. Moreover, the legal assistance will help ensure that children who witness domestic violence are not re-victimized through the abuser's retaliatory behaviors that typically occur when a battered mom attempts to leave an abusive relationship.  

By developing a network of attorneys engaged in our cause, we will also be building a professional cohort of advocates who can increase awareness about abuse in Jewish homes, encourage referrals to Shalom Bayit, and increase their own knowledge of emerging best practices for domestic violence legal interventions. Each attorney‘s participation in this project will strengthen that entire network -- ensuring safety and success for battered women and their children and reducing domestic violence in our community.

We are thrilled at the opportunity for this pro bono engagement, which has been a longtime “in the works.” Thank you!

Organization Description

Shalom Bayit, located in Oakland, is the Bay Area's hub for catalzying the social change and community response necessary to eradicate domestic violence in the Jewish community. We empower women, teens and families to build safe, healthy relationships and create peace in the place that matters most -- at home.

Areas of Expertise Being Sought

Legal such as family law and other ancillary areas such as real estate, employment rights, contracts, estate planning.

Legal research.

Required Skills/Experience

  1. Family law attorneys either with experience in handling domestic violence cases, or interested in gaining knowledge of domestic violence;
  2. Attorneys with other legal expertise (such as real estate, employment rights, contracts, estate planning) interested in being part of a support network for battered women;
  3. Attorneys or paralegals willing to do legal research.
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