History & Impact

The History and Impact of the Domestic Violence Law Practicum

The DV Field Placement (which was originally called the DV Clinic) was started by Nancy Lemon in the spring of 1990. This unique law school program was nourished by Nancy until her retirement in 2022. It is now run by Mallika Kaur who attributes the program’s established successes in creating generations of lawyers who understand DV (that is relevant to many legal practice areas) to Nancy Lemon’s tireless but thoughtful energy. Nancy infused this program with relentless enthusiasm for building up law students, tightening connections in the anti-DV movement, and creating meaningful learning and growth opportunities for all involved. The field placement program carries forth the same ethos, and is committed to expanding placements to even more diverse agencies that are increasingly important players in the ever-dynamic DV law landscape.

“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

Over the years, DV Field Placement students have co-authored influential amicus briefs:

The placements continue to provide students with the unique opportunity to make meaningful contributions in the dynamic space of DV Law every year. 

“[Y]ears after graduating from law school, I’m still actively involved in the movement to support incarcerated survivors of domestic violence.  The Domestic Violence Practicum played a major formative role in steering me into this line of social justice work.  My experiences during the Practicum changed my life, and I hope it will continue to change the lives of countless other students for years to come.”

 – Olivia Wang (Berkeley Law 2001)