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DVAC Fellowships

DVAC sponsors two fellowships which provide Fordham Law students with opportunities to assist survivors of domestic violence and gain valuable legal experience.

The DVAC Summer Fellowship funds full-time summer work and the Women's Bar Foundation/Sanctuary for Families Fellowship funds work during the school year. Academic credit is available for each of the fellowship programs through Fordham Law School's Externship Program. Applications are submitted directly to DVAC in PIRC. The deadlines will be announced in RAMblings and are submitted to the DVAC desk in the Public Interest Resource Center, Room 08.

Domestic Violence Awareness Center's (DVAC) Summer Fellowships: Fellowships of $4,000 for a first year student and $5,000 for an upperclass student are awarded each year to Fordham Law students who secure summer placements for at least 10 weeks in organizations dedicated to protecting the rights of survivors of domestic violence. Students are selected based on demonstrated interest in domestic violence advocacy and representation.

Women's Bar Foundation/Sanctuary for Families:  Academic Year Fellowship (Fall and Spring Semester) funds one intern to work with The Center for Battered Women's Legal Services the legal component of Sanctuary for Families, to assist attorneys providing services in domestic violence, criminal, matrimonial and immigration matters. The fellow works 15 hours a week, receives $4,000 and 4 academic credits offered through the Clinical Program at Fordham, for the entire academic year.
The legal work is very diverse and rewarding.

Submit the application by June 1 

During some academic years, two students "split" the fellowship each working for one semester with Sanctuary for Families.

Jill Waldman, '06, describes her experiences

Women's Bar Foundation/Sanctuary for Families
Report of Fellowship recipient Jill Waldman, '06
Spring 2006

I was privileged enough to receive a fellowship from the New York Women's Bar Association Foundation to work at Sanctuary for Families during my second year of law school. Sanctuary for Families is one of New York City's largest and most comprehensive battered women's services organizations. They not only provide legal services, but also run shelters, provide counseling, conduct outreach education, and offer just about every kind of assistance imaginable to women in need.

Before working at Sanctuary for Families, my legal career has been very focused on criminal law. I often found myself advocating for defendants, or ex-offender's rights. I saw this internship at Sanctuary for Families as an opportunity to get a more complete picture of criminal law, and to increase my understanding of victim's experiences and victim's rights. My experience at Sanctuary was all of this and more: From my first day when I helped the executive director prepared a client for trial, I saw first hand the pain and frustration that victims experience in criminal justice system. Further, I gained came to understand domestic violence victims' experiences with family court, benefits, services, and the struggles that they experience in their every day life.

Sanctuary provided me with an incredible opportunity to work directly with clients. I accompanied them to apply for benefits, helped them to prepare affidavits, and even took one woman and her family to tour a college campus so that her teenage son would be inspired to stay in school. I spoke with women about their struggles to remain independent from their abusers, their financial difficulties, their fight to gain immigration status, and their custody battles. Through my work with Sanctuary's clients, I began to understand the enormously difficult and complex struggle that survivors face, in the criminal justice system and beyond.

My work at Sanctuary for Families also provided me with invaluable research and writing experience, particularly on international custody and family law. Most of Sanctuary's clients are recent immigrants, and a good deal of the law they practice involves international custody issues. I wrote many memoranda and legal briefs about different aspects of international family law, such as South African publication divorce, the Hague Convention and the UCCJEA. Notably, I wrote a series of summaries of recent decisions on the Hague Convention as it relates to international parental kidnapping, and exceptions for domestic violence victims. These summaries were used in Fordham University's Annual Domestic Violence Conference. Additionally, one of the conference participants, Judge Cathy Serrette from Maryland, read my summaries and requested to use them in a training that she was conducting for Maryland Judges. I am honored that the Women's Bar Association allowed me to have such a potentially far-reaching effect on international domestic violence policy.

My experience as a NYWBAF Fellow has had a profound impact on my career. Not only has it deepened my understanding of victim's rights, it has sparked my interest in a wide range of issues, such as immigration and international law. I am incredibly grateful to the New York Women's Bar Association for this opportunity to discover more about the kind of lawyer I want to be.