Northwestern Women's Leadership Coalition

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Symposium Week Domestic Violence Panel

The author of this post is WLC 1L rep Emily Gleichert.

During “Hear Her Now” Symposium week, the WLC hosted a lunch panel on Domestic Violence Work in Practice. Professor Tuerkheimer from Northwestern Law, Pam Stratigakis from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, and Katherine Davis from Life Span Center for Legal Services and Advocacy, joined us to talk about their experiences in lifting other women’s voices in the legal field through their work advocating for victims of domestic abuse. They offered three things to know about domestic violence advocacy work in legal practice.

1. The work is about the process, not the result.

Professor Tuerkheimer shared that there is power in saying to someone, “What’s happening is not ok; it is against the law.” Pam echoed her, saying that how you treat a survivor along the way can be more important than the outcome of the legal procedure. Katherine shared that the process can be frustrating because there are so many misconceptions, biases, and competing interests at play, but that tackling the cross-sectional issues a client is facing can be so rewarding.

2. Increasing awareness is paramount to moving the needle.

Everyone can participate in increasing awareness about domestic violence, whether or not they formally practice domestic violence work. Katherine encouraged the audience to tell stories. Professor Tuerkheimer suggested that students ask about gender violence in their classes at the law school. Pam advised that change—in perspective, mentality, and culture—can start with one person. Don’t know where to start in embarking upon a perspective shift? Start with Sarah Buel’s Fifty Obstacles to Leaving.

3. You can be involved in domestic violence work as a law student.

All the panelists encouraged law students to get involved in domestic violence work. They suggested volunteering at places like Life Span Center for Legal Services, Metro Family Services, Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, and the Legal Aid Fund’s Domestic Violence Project. They also recommended interning at the Cook County State’s Attorney's Office or participating in Northwestern clinics.

Samantha Fidler