For many of our clients, the pandemic has exacerbated their urgent legal needs. LAFLA’s pro bono volunteers have been crucial in helping our clients navigate new policies and court procedures in the wake of COVID. We are grateful to Munger, Tolles & Olson Associate Raquel Dominguez, who recently helped a domestic violence survivor find safety and security.
Jesse first contacted LAFLA through our domestic violence hotline. The police had arrested Jesse’s girlfriend and the mother of their toddler for physically and verbally attacking and injuring him, which he first felt uneasy admitting. After our staff spoke with him further, we learned that this was not the only time she had become violent and hurt him. LAFLA’s Supporting Families Workgroup helped Jesse prepare his temporary restraining order application, which was granted remotely.
Since restraining orders are considered essential functions of the court, judges are still setting hearings for the restraining orders. Raquel bravely agreed to represent Jesse in court:
Representing a domestic violence survivor in an evidentiary hearing was an incredibly rewarding experience. To start, I attended LAFLA’s virtual “DVRO during COVID” training hosted in conjunction with Shepard Mullin. The training walked through the steps of applying for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, explained the common manipulation tactics used in an abusive relationship, and educated attendees on how to work with traumatized survivors. Working alongside LAFLA’s Daliah Setareh and Munger, Tolles & Olson’s Martin Estrada [a LAFLA board member], I gained valuable experience with fact development, client communication, and courtroom argument. We were able to practice creative logistical problem-solving while navigating a new court environment.
Building trust and advocating on the client’s behalf during a hearing that was highly intimidating for the client, was deeply gratifying. I am grateful to LAFLA for facilitating this opportunity and for all the work they do within the community, especially during these unprecedented times.
After hearing both sides, the judge granted the restraining order to Jesse. Thanks to Raquel, Jesse says he feels much safer. He is very grateful we were able to hear his story, trust him, and fight for him.
If you are interested in gaining more substantive knowledge to take on a pro bono case, visit the Pro Bono Training Institute’s online library of on-demand, CLE trainings. If you are interested in donating your time, please visit our volunteer page for information about our volunteer programs, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a specific pro bono opportunity.