Hiring an attorney is not cheap – something that serves as a major hurdle for women seeking to escape abusive relationships. For residents of Kansas, however, they can turn to an extern program of the University of Arkansas for legal assistance.
The program between UA and the Donald W. Reynolds Peace at Home Family Shelter connects victims of domestic violence to UA law students. The students are known as fellows in the program and are overseen by Samantha Leflar, who is a licensed attorney who hopes to see more abuse victims get assistance from Peace at Home.
Leflar is very particular about the mutual benefits of the program for both victim and student. “You’re actually providing a tangible benefit to somebody’s life who needs your help,” she said – referring to how the students perform when helping victims.
This kind of program is something that is quite frankly needs to be expanded, considering how many victims of domestic violence are hard up in finding low-cost legal assistance.
This is because programs that cater to domestic violence and other similar issues for vulnerable individuals lack the funding they need to help all those that come to them for help. “The shelters are struggling with basic needs,” Says Jayne Ann Kita of the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“They would love to be able to pay for attorneys.” Tapping into the capabilities of students not only frees up existing resources and allows them to be spread over a wider area, but also trains a new generation of lawyers to deal with future issues like these.
This is especially important considering that abuse victims need to deal with three prominent legal issues: protection, child custody and divorce. Even simple advice about rights, protection, credit and housing issues must be understood completely for the victim to know her options during the course of her legal battle.