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How a volunteer is fighting Domestic Violence from Bread

In 2015, Allie attended Bread for the City’s pro bono attorney training. She was impressed that Bread for the City’s attorneys spent a lot of time discussing how to work with clients who had experienced trauma and going over the basics of trauma-informed service. “I knew then that Bread’s legal team truly embraced a client-centered approach and prioritized it”, she remembers.

 Allie had some experience with family law because she had worked as a legal aid lawyer in Virginia. She completely understood the value of the legal services that Bread for the City offered. Inspired by our work, she started representing victims of domestic violence in civil protection order cases at DC Superior Court.

“The clients I have served have been women, often with young children, who were abused by their boyfriends or ex-boyfriends and were seeking a court order requiring the abuser to stay away from them and their children. Studies have shown that obtaining a civil protection order is one of the most effective ways to end victimization. As part of this proceeding, the court can issue temporary orders on child custody and child support, and can order the abuser to move out of their apartment if they were living together. In my view, it is a type of legal work that is generally not resource intensive, but can have a huge impact on the client’s life”.

Although she spent many years as a federal litigator and as a legal aid lawyer before volunteering at Bread for the City, she wasn’t very familiar with DC Superior Court and its procedures. For help with procedures and policies, she relied on Bread for the City’s family law attorneys, especially Tracy Davis and Emily Petrino, who were there for her every step of the way.  “The attorneys I have worked with – Tracy Davis and Emily Petrino – are very responsive and willing to help in every aspect and it has been a pleasure working with them”, she says.

Besides her volunteering work, Allie really admires Bread for the City’s mission to help low-income DC residents develop the power to determine the future of their own communities. “I feel privileged to be part of the Bread community as a volunteer. I believe I am learning to be a better listener.”

She encourages people to become a Bread for the City volunteer, and advises newcomers to not be afraid to ask questions of Bread for the City’s expert staff, embrace being a novice, and enjoy the process of learning new things!

Thank you for all your service, Allie!

Bread for the City’s domestic violence work is made possible through funds awarded by the DC Bar Foundation and the Women’s Bar Association Foundation.

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