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.

Protection Assistance Project: Assist clients draft and file TPO petitions

Having the support of a lawyer in crafting their TPO petition 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:

Assist domestic violence survivors with Temporary Protection Orders, from drafting and filing their petition, to possibly representing in Court.

2. RESOURCES:

  • Access to an on-call DCVLP Supervising Attorney who will review the petition before filing and assist you in providing appropriate legal advice
  • Online project-specific training, including guidance on navigating the online filing system, and best practices for conducting trauma-sensitive client interviews

3. LOGISTICS

  •  The Protection Assistance Project operates on Tuesdays from 9am-1pm and 12pm-4pm.Volunteers are on-call for a 4-hour shift. Calls come in throughout the shift and are passed to volunteers as we receive them. Each petition takes about an hour to draft.

4. SIGN UP

  • In light of the Superior Court’s recent update allowing for in person filing with 25% capacity, an increased number of survivors are now opting to file for CPOs in person. As a result, we have made the decision to temporarily pause staffing the Protection Assistance Project beginning on August 17, 2021 until we can determine the specific volume of survivors who will continue utilizing the Court’s online filing system.

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

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

Having the guidance of a lawyer on protection orders, custody, and divorce matters helps survivors know their rights and increases their chances of securing safety and stability. Just a few hours of your time makes a lasting impact.

1. ACTIVITIES:

Provide legal advice on protection orders, custody, and divorce matters to domestic violence survivors and caregivers of at-risk children. Pre-scheduled clients meet with volunteers via video or phone.

2. RESOURCES:

  • Access to an on-call DCVLP Supervising Attorney who will assist you in providing appropriate legal advice
  • Online training, including guidance on providing legal advice in a virtual clinic setting

3. LOGISTICS

  • The Virtual Family Law Clinic operates on Wednesdays and Fridays from 1-4pm via Zoom. Volunteers are on-call for a 4-hour shift. Pre-scheduled clients meet with volunteers via video or phone. Spanish speaking volunteers are especially needed! Note: The Virtual Family Legal Clinic will only operate on Wednesdays from May 5-July 31, 2021. The clinic will resume its Friday hours beginning in August 2021.

4. SIGN UP

  • If you are a registered and trained volunteer, please contact our Domestic Violence Program Coordinator (volunteer@dcvlp.org) to sign up for a shift.

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

Having the guidance of a lawyer on available forms of relief, review of applications, and other necessary assistance helps immigrant survivors know their rights and increases their chances of securing safety and stability. 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. Pre-scheduled clients meet with volunteers via video or phone.

2. RESOURCES:

  • Access to an on-call DCVLP Supervising Attorney who will assist you in providing appropriate legal advice
  • Online training for our immigration practice and for providing legal advice in a virtual clinic setting

3. LOGISTICS

  • The Immigration Legal Clinic operates on Wednesdays from 1-4pm via Zoom. Volunteers are on-call for a 4-hour shift. Pre-scheduled clients meet with volunteers via video or phone. Spanish speaking volunteers are especially needed!

4. SIGN UP

  •  If you are a registered and trained volunteer, sign up for a 3-hour shift here. Our Immigration Program Manager will be in touch with more information.