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Pro Bono Spotlight: UNC Law Students Against Sexual and Domestic Violence

Law Students Against Sexual and Domestic Violence (LSASDV) is a university-recognized student organization at the UNC School of Law. In addition to sponsoring speakers and programs to educate law students and the university community about sexual and domestic violence, LSASDV provides pro bono opportunities for UNC law students to advocate for survivors through connections with local domestic violence service providers, rape crisis centers, and legal nonprofits. In light of growing awareness and concern about sexual violence, the UNC School of Law student leaders of LSASDV hope to ensure that students have the opportunity to advocate for sexual assault survivors. The organization’s goal is also to express to the entire community that UNC law students believe in survivors and are dedicated to providing support to victims. The organization also works to educate the community on the disproportionate impact that sexual and domestic violence has on poor and minority women.

Over the past several years, LSASDV has run several ongoing pro bono projects such as their Ex Parte Project and their Community Legal Project with the Compass Center for Women and Families. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, LSASDV has launched an entirely new project called the “Jail Call Project.” The new project was created in direct partnership with the Wake County District Attorney’s Office and Assistant District Attorney Kristen Fetter, who focuses on felony domestic violence cases.

Through this new project, law students listen to jail calls between defendants in jail for domestic violence felonies and people contacting them from outside of jail. Students listen to the calls in order to see if the defendant is doing anything improper/illegal during their phone calls. Reviewing these calls is vital when it comes to the prosecution of these domestic violence cases for violent offenders. Through LSASDV’s work, over 120 “batches” of calls have been reviewed, amounting to several hundred calls in total. As of Feb. 1, 2021, fifty students have logged hundreds of pro bono hours as a part of this project. Through this important work, LSASDV has helped to protect victims of domestic violence from their abusers and worked to ensure that victims of violent domestic offenses will see justice.