A project of the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Legal Resource Network, recently launched a website where attorneys can register to volunteer to represent victims of domestic violence in civil matters on a pro bono basis: http://www.legalresourcenetwork.org. Those attorneys will reap a variety of rewards, including CLE credit, litigation experience, professional development, and public recognition.
But the greatest beneficiaries will be a segment of the Nassau County population in urgent need of legal services, the victims of domestic violence. Though it is impossible to know for sure, because most incidents go unreported, it is estimated that at any given time there are 100,000 Nassau County residents at risk for domestic violence. Last year, 9 people in Nassau County were murdered in family violence incidents, and 3 of them were children.
Children living in violent households are at grave risk, even when they are not themselves abused. Nationwide, over 3 million American children witness domestic violence in their homes. Studies show that the effects on these children are profound, including everything from increased aggression, anxiety, and depression, to decreased cognitive functioning. Moreover, boys who witness domestic violence as children are more likely to grow up to become abusers.
âMost attorneys want to give back to their community,â said Legal Resource Network Project Coordinator, Freda Wagner. âLawyers who want a great way to help kids, as well as adult victims of domestic violence, should visit http://www.legalresourcenetwork.org and volunteer.â
The Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, provides a wide range of services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including a 24-hour hotline, counseling for adults and children, an emergency safe home, and legal services. But with only 5 staff attorneys, to service a county with a population of over 1.3 million, there is a long backlog of clients waiting for assistance in certain practice areas.
âImpoverished, battered women and men in Nassau County rely on the generosity of the local legal community to protect their rights and their childrenâs rights when they decide to leave the abusive relationship permanently,â said Wagner.
While New York City agencies are fortunate to be surrounded by some of the worldâs largest law firms, with active pro bono programs, Long Island agencies find it much more difficult to recruit pro bono attorneys. Therefore, any attorney who lives or works in the Nassau County area is encouraged to volunteer now, at http://www.legalresourcenetwork.org.