The Verizon Foundation awarded the Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic at UC Davis‘ King Hall School of Law with a $35,000 grant to further its work in the family law field last month.
The Woodland-based clinic facilitates free services for low-income spouses and their children, handling cases involving restraining orders, child custody, visitation, child and spousal support and property division.
Krystal Jaime, the clinic’s supervising attorney, said the grant came at a crucial time, especially with the state budget cuts.
“The university is very committed to funding us, but to receive a grant at this time was hugely important to us,” she said. “Several studies show that one of the reasons victims will return [to an abusive partner] is lack of legal representation. Being that for them, it can mean a difference from returning to the abuse and being able to leave it.“
The Verizon Foundation has been focused on domestic violence for a decade, primarily with its Hope Line program that recycles and provides old phones to organizations that help family violence victims.
“We look at ways and programs in the community that help domestic violence survivors,” said John Davies, Verizon Foundation spokesperson. “We feel it’s one of the areas of philanthropy that doesn’t get a lot of attention. It’s a pervasive problem in our community and we feel we need to take a leadership stance on it.”
In Yolo County, 18.4 percent of citizens live below the federal poverty level. The clinic, founded in 1999, handles about 80 cases each year, representing low-income clients in this area. The clinic collaborates with the Yolo County Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center.
The clinic’s 12 certified law students prepare work, handle court hearings and manage client communications.
“We are very proud of the important work of the Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic, which has made a profound difference in the lives of many victims of domestic violence and taught students much about the practice of law for those most in need,” said Dean of the UC Davis School of Law Kevin R. Johnson said in a press release.
Students in the program are required to enroll for two semesters. Second year law student Christie Mahon’s interests lie in family law, especially public law. She became interested in the clinic for the type of work the clinic does and for practical, hands-on experience.
“I think that even without the resources we have been able to accomplish amazing things with very little staff and money,” Mahon said. “We have made amazing strides to help people of Yolo County. It would cost thousands otherwise. We can exponentially increase the number of people we help. We can work with other organizations by having such open lines of communication.“
In addition to family protection and legal assistance, King Hall offers clinics in civil rights, immigration and prison law that are taught by the faculty.
POOJA KUMAR can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.