Former Students

Gabriela Hilliger, LL.M. 2012

Dear Nancy: Hopefully we will keep always in touch!

The possibility of learning domestic violence in last semester class and this practicum has been the best thing of my opportunity of studying an LL.M here at the United States.

I think the great value of both classes has been that you not only know so much about domestic violence in theory but that your life has been a testimony of commitment and passion for helping victims of domestic violence rebuild their lives.

Thank you for everything! I hope when I return to Chile to make concrete things to help victims of domestic violence there by applying all I have learned.

Gabriela Hilliger

Heather B. Warnken, Esq., LL.M.
Policy Associate
The Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law & Social Policy
University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Out of all of the learning opportunities I had in law school, I can easily consider the Domestic Violence Practicum the most enriching and challenging, as it shaped me in ways that no classroom experience alone could have. My first placement at the Family Violence Law Center in Oakland allowed me to work directly with families living with intimate partner abuse, and represent many of these clients in court. In handling restraining order hearings, addressing custody and support issues, and working through challenges of safety planning, I did more than enhance my skill set for facing complex legal questions. I got an invaluable education in the broader social challenges inextricably linked to so many areas of law.

I returned for a second enrollment in the Practicum that widened my exposure by allowing me to work on DV issues at a policy level. Under the direction of Professor Lemon, I was able to file an Amicus Brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as travel to the state capitol to enhance my understanding of the legislative process.

The common thread between these two very different experiences in the Practicum was the opportunity that each allowed to collaborate with Professor Lemon and a thoughtful and giving group of classmates. Convening each week to process our experiences at our diverse range of placements allowed us to learn from each other. Collectively wrestling with the legal, emotional, and intellectual challenges we faced inspired me both personally and professionally. Based on Professor Lemon's dedication to her students and her unparallelled expertise, I have taken and would recommend every course she teaches at Boalt.

Stella Kang, class of 2010

The DV Practicum was without doubt one of the best experiences I had in law school. Through my placement with Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, I worked with clients on their U-Visa, T-Visa, and VAWA claims. I developed valuable courtroom skills by representing several clients in court at their restraining order and child custody hearings. I learned firsthand about the important relationships between my agency, shelters, law enforcement, and the DA's office. Finally, I believe that my experience in the Practicum allowed me to be a competitive candidate for public interest fellowships. I am currently working as the Borchard Fellow at API Legal Outreach and I believe that the Practicum was instrumental in helping me to develop my project idea and in preparing me to "hit the ground running" in terms of, familiarity with DV law and client representation. I really can't say enough good things about this Practicum and my placement with API Legal Outreach. I wish this were a required course!

Daniel R. Strong, J.D. Candidate, 2010
University of California, Berkeley School of Law
Publishing Editor Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law
danstrong@berkeley.edu
danstrong13@gmail.com

The DV Practicum provided me with some of my most valuable law school experiences. In addition to learning about the field from Nancy Lemon, a bona fide expert who also really cares, I had many opportunities to argue in court and get hands-on experience at my placement. Most thrillingly, I was able to argue a three-day misdemeanor jury trial, almost entirely by myself, from voir dire through a final verdict. Arguing in court is the reason I came to law school, but only in the DV Practicum did I actually get to do it.

Fatimah Simmons, MPP, Spring 2010
Master of Public Policy Candidate 2011
Richard and Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy
University of California, Berkeley

I highly recommend the DV Practicum! I had the flexibility to create a hybrid internship where I did client-based casework as well as policy work such as grant proposals and advocacy projects. My public policy program does not offer any specific courses relating to domestic violence. So this practicum enabled me to get real-world experience in this specific policy area. I even got to travel to the state capital and lobby legislators on behalf of a leading California domestic violence organization. The practicum definitely enriched my first year of graduate school. Nancy Lemon is a wealth of knowledge and a supportive mentor. I especially encourage non-law students to consider this practicum.

Erin Liotta J.D. Candidate, 2011
UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall)
erin.liotta@berkeley.edu

The DV Practicum is essential for anyone considering entering the field of domestic violence, and is still a great idea for those considering just about any other kind of work. In the course of just one semester, I gained significant substantive knowledge and will have helped write large portions of two habeas petitions to be filed in superior and appellate courts. This is an excellent opportunity to put your legal skills to use in a meaningful way, and to make a real difference in the lives of battered women.

Alexis Adler, J.D. 2010
The Domestic Violence Practicum is a great way to make a difference while learning practical skills. Because of the practicum I have more courtroom experience than many of the young associates at the firm where I will be working next year. Plus, I had a lot of fun!

Erica Franklin, J.D. 2010
The Domestic Violence Practicum has been among my most valuable experiences at Berkeley Law and has helped to shape my career goals. In working directly with domestic violence survivors, I learned more about domestic violence than I ever could learn in a classroom setting, and I gained valuable skills in client representation and legal analysis. Meeting weekly with other students in domestic violence placements allowed for meaningful reflection and helped put my work in context.

Matthew D. Schwoebel, Class of 2008
J.D. Candidate
UC Berkeley- School of Law

The DV Practicum was an excellent opportunity. It provided me with real professional experience in interviewing survivors of serious trauma, representing clients in court, and conducting interesting research. I also learned a great deal about what is needed on a personal level in order to practice within the public interest field. The seminar component of the practicum provided a space to assess legal complexities and inherent emotional challenges in this type of work. Furthermore, working with Nancy Lemon, one of the foremost experts in the field, provided interesting discussion of the practical and theoretical elements of the law. For these reasons, I believe the DV practicum would be a fruitful and memorable experience for any law student.

Jill E. Adams, Esq.
Executive Director
Law Students for Reproductive Justice

The Domestic Violence Practicum provided a one-of-a-kind combination of substantive coursework, hands-on professional training, and collective problem solving through peer group work led by the expert's expert on the subject.  Nancy Lemon is a legend in the field - she literally wrote the book on Domestic Violence Law.  As a student in her clinic, I had the rare and invaluable opportunity to represent clients at court hearings for restraining orders.  I learned what it truly meant to serve clients and came into my own as a lawyer through the DV Practicum.

Erin Smith, Class of 2004
Associate
Covington & Burling LLP

The Domestic Violence Practicum was an extremely important part of my legal education at Boalt.  It offered a rare opportunity to work with actual clients as a law student, instead of simply reading about them in books.  The practical skills I learned in the praticum were essential to learning how to practice law, and they also added a sense of purpose to what we learned in other classes.  Today, I represent a woman who has been in prison for 23 years for a crime related to being a survivor of domestic violence.  Without the concepts and client skills that I learned in the Domestic Violence Practicum, I could not have undertaken this valuable and rewarding representation.  The Practicum helps people make a real difference in the world.

Lisa De Sanctis, Class of 1996
Career Advisor
UOP, McGeorge School of Law

Participating in the Domestic Violence Clinic prepared me extremely well for my work as a domestic violence prosecutor and as a clinical professor for the Domestic Violence Litigation Clinic at George Washington University Law School.  Working directly with clients, speaking in court, and having the opportunity to process my experiences with Professor Lemon and my Clinic colleagues gave me an advantage when interviewing with employers and the confidence that I needed to succeed. 

Marisa F. Gonzalez
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Staff Attorney/California Habeas Project Co-Coordinator

The Domestic Violence Practicum was an essential component of my education at Boalt.  I learned a lot about the legal issues facing survivors of domestic violence, as well as how the law is helping survivors, how it is hindering them, and where the need continues for lawyers to support and empower survivors.  The Practicum also allowed me to meet other students who are interested in ending intimate partner battering, and those contacts are extremely useful to me now in my role as Co-Coordinator of the California Habeas Project as I work to free unjustly incarcerated survivors from California prisons.

Heidi Boas
Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow
Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services, Washington, D.C.

The Domestic Violence Practicum at Boalt was one of the most meaningful and practical learning experiences I had during law school.  The Practicum provided me with the invaluable opportunity to practice client interaction and courtroom skills while representing clients for temporary restraining orders in family court.  Through the Practicum, I learned real-life lawyering skills that have helped ease my transition into practicing law.  Now, as an immigration lawyer, I help women file self-petitions under the Violence Against Women Act and represent women seeking asylum based on domestic violence.  I am able to provide my clients with competent and compassionate representation because of the experience I gained through the Domestic Violence Practicum.

Roxanne Hoegger Alejandre, Class of 2002
Staff Attorney
Bay Area Legal Aid

As a clinical student, I learned to be a compassionate and zealous advocate for low income domestic violence victims and their children. I gained valuable hands on experience such as interviewing clients, representing victims in court, and drafting legal pleadings.  This experience also planted the seed for my post-graduate Equal Justice Works Fellowship.

Meliah Schultzman
Equal Justice Works Fellow
National Housing Law Project

“I still use the knowledge and skills I gained from the Practicum in my work as an attorney practicing in the areas of housing and domestic violence law.  The Practicum also gave me an opportunity to network with public interest attorneys and learn about the issues they face in their practice areas.”

Jessica Miyeko Kawamura
MPP 2009

As a graduate student in public policy, participating in the practicum broadened my perspective on how we address social problems. My work on homelessness and housing policy exposed how critical it is to tackle the issue of domestic violence as we improve social welfare policy. Spending a semester with the Habeas Project gave me a hands-on understanding of the relationships between the criminal justice system, public policy, and local communities. After completing the practicum, I applied this knowledge to my master's thesis, an evaluation of Domestic Violence Court in Contra Costa County.

Angelique Abed
JD Class of 2011

One thing that this class specifically taught me is that it is okay to express emotion in the law and actually we should sometimes embrace it. I feel like law school has taught me to be stone faced and stone hearted, but this practicum embraced and actually encouraged me to feel and to share my feelings; this in turn made me feel more secure as a person and as a legal professional. I really enjoyed the comfort and openness of the classroom component. It has been one of the most, if not the most, memorable experience I have had in law school.