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September 18, 2006

$250,000 federal grant awarded to law school’s Domestic Violence Clinic

$250,000 federal grant saves
law school’s Domestic Violence Clinic 
The Lane County Domestic Violence Clinic, which had been teetering on the edge of closure this year, received good news on September 15 with the announcement of a $250,000 federal grant. The funds give the clinic some breathing room, said Merle Weiner, a UO law professor and one of the founders of the clinic. 
“Because of our domestic violence clinic, many abuse victims in this county can get free legal help when they need it. This grant secures the clinic until at least 2008 and allows us time to raise funds this service desperately needs for the long term, ” Weiner said.
Since 1999, the clinic has provided legal services to low-income victims of domestic violence and their children. Third-year UO law students, two supervising attorneys, and several advocates represent more than 400 clients each year who seek physical protection, child custody, exclusive use of their residence, and emergency support.

The legal clinic is a collaboration of the University of Oregon School of Law, Lane County Legal Aid and Advocacy Center, and two Eugene/Springfield nonprofits: Womenspace and Sexual Assault Support Services. It is part of the local Stop Violence Against Women Project.

The clinic has received federal grants since it was founded eight years ago. The new grant will make up half of the clinic budget.
The rest must be raised through other grants and private donations.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Legal Assistance to Victims grant program awarded the funding again this year, but warned that continued help is not guaranteed. 

In a 2003 study published in Contemporary Economic Policy journal, researchers found that, in counties where battered women can easily find legal help for protective orders, custody, divorce, child support and public assistance, there is a “significant, negative effect” on the overall incidence of domestic violence.

-Eliza Schmidkunz 

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