Volunteer With Us

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project! DCVLP provides all you need to represent domestic violence victims and at-risk children as a pro-bono attorney in the District of Columbia, including:

  • In-person and online training sessions
  • Lunch & Learn sessions on special topics, such as child testimony & litigation skills
  • 1:1 support from experienced Supervising Attorneys who review all written work & accompany volunteers to court
  • Extensive resource library, including sample pleadings
  • Partnership with co-volunteer on most cases
  • Office space to meet with clients & receive mail (virtual meeting spaces provided during COVID-19)
  • Professional liability insurance
  • Reimbursement for litigation expenses
  • Use of photocopier/fax machine, courier service, process servers

Learn more about our practice areas, ways to get involved, and current volunteer opportunities below.

Practice Areas

CIVIL PROTECTION ORDERS

Volunteers help domestic violence survivors find immediate safety from their abusers through a CPO, or “stay-away” order. These cases provide supervised in-court litigation experience in a short time frame. Volunteers may sign up far in advance to represent a client on a certain hearing date, allowing busy attorneys to predict when they will need to be in court.
Average Case Length: 2-4 weeks

FAMILY LAW CUSTODY & DIVORCE

Volunteers help domestic violence survivors and their children find long-term safety and stability through a permanent custody and/or divorce order. These cases provide a full range of supervised litigation experience, including discovery, motions, negotiations, and hearings.
Average case length: 6-12 months with hearings every 2-3 months

CHILD ADVOCACY AS GUARDIANS AD LITEM

Volunteers represent the best interests of children at serious risk of harm in custody cases, due to concerning factors such as abuse and domestic violence. These cases provide substantial supervised experience in investigation, negotiation, and litigation.
Average case length: 6-12 months with hearings every 2-3 months

IMMIGRATION

Volunteers help immigrant survivors of violence and their families find relief through a variety of means, such as asylum, special visas for victims of crime, standby guardianship, and adjustments in status.
Average case length: 6-12 months

Become a DCVLP Volunteer

STEP 2: INTAKE

We want to learn more about you! When you complete the volunteer registration form, we will send you a link to schedule a 15 minute intake interview with a Program Manager.

STEP 3: TRAINING

When you complete the volunteer registration form, we will send you a link to access our online Training Hub. From there, you can view on-demand training modules based on your practice area(s) of interest.

Volunteer Opportunities

Civil Protection Orders

In-Court CPO Advocacy: Represent a client at a CPO hearing

These cases provide supervised in-court litigation experience in a short time frame. Volunteers may sign up far in advance to represent a client on a certain hearing date, allowing busy attorneys to predict when they will need to be in court.

Current Court operations are now resuming their normal periods for hearings (after being delayed during the pandemic). If you are a registered and trained volunteer, please click here to be matched with a client. You will be prompted to denote days which you are available to represent a client in a hearing, and we will match you with a client whose hearing falls on that day.

Average case length: 2-4 weeks

Average time commitment: 15 hours

Please contact our Domestic Violence Program Manager with questions.

Domestic Violence Protection Order Clinic (DVPOC)

The COVID-19 Pandemic has had a detrimental effect on survivors of domestic violence, increasing the severity and frequency of the abuse they experience. Just a few hours of your time makes a lasting impact.

1. ACTIVITIES:

  • Assist callers with their Civil Protection Order (CPO) cases by providing legal advice, drafting petitions, and making amendments.

2. RESOURCES:

  • Access to a DCVLP Supervising Attorney who will assist you in providing appropriate advice, robust legal training materials, and best practices for conducting trauma-informed client interviews
  • Online CPO Training including on-demand modules that can be accessed 24/7

  • Client Advocate to assist clients with non-legal referrals and follow-up

3. LOGISTICS

  • The Domestic Violence Protection Order Clinic (DVPOC) operates on Mondays & Wednesdays from 1pm – 5pm virtually. Clients meet with volunteers by phone during a 1 hour clinic shift. Spanish speaking volunteers are especially needed!

4. SIGN UP

  • Register to volunteer at dcvlp.org/register
  • Complete the CPO and Legal Clinic trainings (link to training provided upon volunteer registration)

  • Sign up for a shift by contacting our Domestic Violence Program Coordinator, Emmalyn Brown, at ebrown@dcvlp.org

Family Law Custody & Divorce

In-Court Advocacy: Represent a client in obtaining a permanent divorce or custody arrangement

These cases provide a full range of supervised litigation experience, including discovery, motions practice, negotiations, and hearings, and often trial.

All hearings are currently held virtually. Please contact our Domestic Violence Program Manager to inquire about available cases.

Average case length: 6-12 months with hearings every 2-3 months

Average time commitment: 10-15 hours per month

Family Law Clinic: Provide clients with legal advice on CPOs, custody, and divorce matters

Having the support of a lawyer and knowing their legal rights significantly increases a survivor’s chance of securing long-term safety & stability. Just a few hours of your time makes a lasting impact.

1. ACTIVITIES:

  • Provide critically needed legal advice to domestic violence survivors and caregivers of at-risk children in protection order, child custody, and divorce matters
  • Learn more about family law and other pro bono legal services in DC

2. RESOURCES:

  • Access to a DCVLP Supervising Attorney who will assist you in providing appropriate advice, robust family law training materials, and best practices for conducting trauma-informed client interviews
  • Online Family Law Training including on-demand modules that can be accessed 24/7
  • Client Advocate to assist clients with non-legal referrals and follow-up

3. LOGISTICS

  • The Family Legal Clinic operates on Fridays from 10am – 1pm at The Commons at Stanton Square (2375 Elvans Rd SE, DC). Walk-in clients meet with volunteers in-person during their clinic shift. Spanish speaking volunteers are especially needed!

4. SIGN UP

  • Register to volunteer at dcvlp.org/register
  • Complete the Legal Clinic training (link to training provided upon volunteer registration)
  • Sign up for a shift by contacting our Domestic Violence Program Coordinator, Emmalyn Brown, at ebrown@dcvlp.org

Child Advocacy: Guardians ad Litem

In-Court Advocacy: Represent the best interests of children living with abuse, neglect, and domestic violence

Judges appoint DCVLP volunteer attorneys as Guardians ad litem to represent the best interests of children living with abuse, neglect, domestic violence and other dangers to help ensure they grow up in safe and stable homes. DCVLP’s Guardian ad litem volunteers investigate, review reports, interview parties and witnesses, negotiate with other parties, and make recommendations for custody and social services. These cases provide substantial supervised experience in investigation, negotiation, and litigation.

All hearings are currently held virtually. The majority of investigations can take place virtually, but some in-person activities may be necessary. Please contact our Child Advocacy Program Manager to inquire about available cases.

Average case length: 6-12 months with hearings every 2-3 months

Immigration

Advocacy for Immigrant Survivors: Help immigrant survivors and their families find relief

Volunteers help immigrant survivors of violence and their families find relief through a variety of means, such as asylum, special visas for victims of crime, standby guardianship, and adjustments in status. Activities include preparing applications for immigration relief, appearing at administrative hearings, helping survivors prepare for immigration interviews, and other activities.

Average case length: varies depending on type of case

Average time commitment: 10-15 hours per month

Please contact our Immigration Program Manager to inquire about available cases.

Immigration Legal Clinic: Provide legal advice on immigration relief to survivors of domestic violence

Empower immigrant survivors of gender-based violence with the information they need to secure immigration relief. This is an easy, low-commitment way to make a meaningful impact on the lives of survivors of violence. Just a few hours of your time makes a lasting impact.

1. ACTIVITIES:

Volunteers provide advice on immigration relief to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violence at our Immigration Legal Clinic, including potential available forms of relief, review of applications, and other necessary assistance.

2. RESOURCES:

  • Access to a DCVLP Supervising Attorney who will assist you in providing appropriate advice, robust immigration law training materials, and best practices for conducting trauma-informed client interviews
  • Online Immigration Law Training including on-demand modules that can be accessed 24/7
  • Client Advocate to assist clients with non-legal referrals and follow-up

3. LOGISTICS

  • The Immigration Legal Clinic operates on Wednesdays from 1pm – 4pm at Westminster Presbyterian Church (400 I St SW, DC).
  • Clients meet with volunteers in-person during their clinic shift. Spanish speaking volunteers are especially needed!

4. SIGN UP

  • Register to volunteer at dcvlp.org/register
  • Complete the Legal Clinic training (link to training provided upon volunteer registration)
  • Sign up for a shift by contacting our Domestic Violence Program Coordinator, Emmalyn Brown, at ebrown@dcvlp.org