Domestic Violence Field Placement

Student displaying her "Sensing DV Law" creative praxis project. Student pictured with a citrus pastry dish. Student displaying her "Sensing DV Law" creative praxis project. Student pictured holding a bouquet of paper flowers. Student displaying his "Sensing DV Law" creative praxis project. Student pictured with a potted plant which has ornamental purple beads hanging from it. Student displaying her "Sensing DV Law" creative praxis project. Student pictured standing in front of a courthouse and holding a poster with a collage of photos.

Above: Students display their “Sensing DV Law” creative praxis projects at the close of Spring 2024 semester.

It is almost certain that during their careers, all attorneys will– either knowingly or unknowingly–work with someone victimized by or someone accused of Intimate Partner/Domestic Violence (DV). Since millions of people in the U.S. report being victimized by DV each year, the legal needs of DV survivors are as diverse as our population. Overlaid with the reality that the use of the law to combat DV in the U.S. is deeply debated today, the current legal landscape is rich for immersive and rewarding student experience in various issues at the intersection of law and various asymmetries: gender, race, immigration, state’s rights, policing, restorative justice, and more.

Through the DV Field Placement, students gain real-time legal and policy training, supervised by attorneys in a range of practice areas at various agencies, while enrolled in a classroom component taught by Domestic Violence (DV) Field Placement Director Mallika Kaur.

“My experience in the Domestic Violence Field Placement (DVFP) was nothing short of transformational. Professor Kaur’s classroom greeted all students with open arms, no matter their identity, background, or career path. In our weekly Seminar meetings, we examined the many roles we fill for–and duties we owe to–our clients, even beyond those we’re prescribed by the ABA. We practiced trauma-centered lawyering …. Each week, my classmates and I shared with one another the highs and lows of our externship experiences, and leaned on each other for support, guidance, and friendship. Working in this realm was immensely challenging mentally and emotionally, but having a space such as this classroom where I could share openly and vulnerably made carrying the weight far less taxing. The DVFP helped me develop a lawyering style tailored to my core values. In doing so, it shaped me into not only a better advocate, but also a better friend, partner, leader, and member of my communities.”

Antonio Gutierrez

J.D. Candidate, Class of 2024

In the U.S., DV is often reported as the leading cause of unnatural death for women. Heightened danger and lethality in various marginalized communities, including of trans victim-survivors, remain understudied. In U.S. prisons, it is estimated that anywhere from 40-85% of the population serving time in women prisons have been directly impacted by DV. Of mass shootings across the U.S., 2 out of 3 have a connection to DV. In many police precincts across the country, DV is the single largest category of calls to the police. And in the civil space, there is growing new legislation around DV: tort law, labor law, health law, housing law, bankruptcy law, etc., all directly intersect with the needs of DV survivors.

Students join the DV Field Placement program to develop first-hand insight to DV in their chosen legal area as well as benefit from the percolation of ideas and discussions about ethics-in-action in the DV Field Placement seminar, where fellow students will bring their learning (cognitive, emotional, technical, and philosophical) from working on DV issues in other diverse areas.

The DV Field Placement is open to any student, regardless of past or future goals and experiences.

Students may choose a placement at one of various agencies in the Bay Area. The work focuses on restraining orders, family law, public benefits, immigration, asylum, tort actions, employment issues, prosecution, defense of accused and/or incarcerated victims, appellate work, or other issues involving domestic violence. Students also may work on policy matters, including helping draft and advocate for legislation.

At the placements, students interview clients; draft restraining orders, memoranda, and motions; represent clients at hearings; argue motions; and research policy issues. They may also attend meetings with attorneys, government officials, judges and legislators.

The placements provide a rewarding opportunity to engage with victim-survivors of Domestic Violence, to witness the laws around DV in action, to learn important legal skills, to experience negotiating trauma and emotions of legal work, and to build a collaborative network of contacts in the legal community.

Apply for Spring 2025 DV Field Placement. For questions contact

  • DV Field Placement meets Professional Responsibility requirement
  • DV Field Placement meets J.D. Experiential Requirement
  • DV Field Placement counts towards LLM Practical Lawyering Certificate

More about the Domestic Violence Field Placement

Want to work with real attorneys and clients impacted by intimate partner violence/domestic violence?

Each Spring semester, Berkeley Law students can enroll in the Domestic Violence Field Placement in one of a variety of placements including family law/restraining orders, defense, immigration, prosecution, asylum, appeals, employment, housing, or with a Judge.

  • Placements are generally located throughout the greater Bay Area. If you are certified (taking or have taken Evidence), you can represent clients in court.
  • Opportunity to work with DV survivors, learn important legal skills, experience negotiating trauma and emotions of legal work, and build a collaborative network of legal contacts.
  • Enroll for 5-7 units total. 3-5 units (12-20 hrs/week) at placement, plus weekly 2 credit class. LLMs can enroll for 2 units (8 hrs)— provided the placement that agrees to this limited time—plus the 2-credit class.
  • Satisfies the Professional Responsibility requirement for law school graduation.
  • Companion course: Domestic Violence & The Law: Past & Possible Future (taught by Mallika Kaur) in the Fall, is not a prerequisite, but highly encouraged.
  • You can enroll twice! Springs of 2L & 3L

Partial List of Possible Placements for Spring 2025

Civil Legal Settings

  • Family Violence Appellate Project (appeals, mostly family law) – Oakland (remote or hybrid)
  • District Attorney’s domestic violence units – San Francisco, Alameda
  • Tahirih Justice Center (asylum, VAWA self-petitions, U/T visas, forced marriage)— San Bruno
  • Family Violence Law Center (restraining orders) – Oakland
  • Bay Area Legal Aid (DV Family Law and Survivor Based Immigration) – Napa, Richmond, Oakland, San Francisco, Redwood City, San Jose – hybrid remote/in person placements possible.
  • Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach (immigration, ) – SF and Oakland
  • UnCommon Law (parole work with incarcerated survivors) – Oakland
  • East Bay Sanctuary Covenant (asylum) – Berkeley
  • Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (asylum – policy work) – SF
  • Legal Aid at Work (employment issues) – SF
  • Public defender’s offices (Contra Costa – confirmed)
  • CA Partnership to End Domestic Violence (Policy work) – Sacramento

Other placements may be possible if arranged with the instructor.

Here is the PDF for the Domestic Violence Field Placement Flyer.

A photo of pink flowers taken at the Women's Faculty Club. Pink text reads: A Resource Guide for Survivors/Victims and Support Persons of Berkeley Law.

A Resource Guide for Survivors/Victims and Support Persons of Berkeley Law

The Jim Fahey Safe Homes Fund for Women endowment was established in 2007 to provide scholarships for graduate students at UC Berkeley with demonstrated financial need and a strong aptitude in relevant subjects as well as a deep commitment to combating domestic violence against women. Preference is given to students who are close to graduation, and who have completed coursework on feminist or gender or women’s studies, families, domestic violence, and the like. Undocumented students are eligible to apply for the fellowship. No work authorization required.