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Essential Tools for Adopting A Trauma-Informed Lawyering Approach in Domestic Violence Cases and Beyond

(84 reviews)

Produced on January 19, 2021

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Course Information

Time 1h 1m
Difficulty Intermediate
Topics covered in this course: Litigation Public Interest

Course Description

Clients often seek legal assistance in times of extreme vulnerability. It is crucial for lawyers to be able to identify and address the sources and effects of trauma, and to understand the impact of trauma on their client’s behavior. Understanding trauma and its role in the court and justice system will enable attorneys to better advocate on behalf of their clients.  

At the core of a trauma-informed practice is the ability to adapt and adjust one’s approach in response to the client’s triggers. Furthermore, it is imperative to develop and establish trust between attorney and client.  

This course, presented by Jennifer C. Friedman and Karla S. George, the Directors of Sanctuary for Families’ Family Law Project at the Bronx Family Justice Center, reviews sources of trauma, such as intimate partner violence, ways in which trauma may present itself in a client, and how institutional oppression, including racism and poverty, can exacerbate trauma. The course also provides tools for effective rapport building, offers concrete interviewing strategies, and presents approaches to navigating the complex and often re-traumatizing legal system.

Please be advised that this program contains strong language related to domestic violence and abuse that may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Examine basic principles of trauma-informed lawyering
  2. Obtain fundamental skills for conducting interviews with survivors of domestic violence
  3. Identify sources of oppression and how they can exacerbate client trauma
  4. Develop strategies for navigating the justice system on behalf of your client
  5. Identify appropriate resources in the community
  6. Provide guidelines for addressing confidentiality and safety concerns 

Credit Information

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Jennifer C. Friedman

Sanctuary for Families

Jennifer Friedman is a lawyer, advocate, and activist with over twenty-five years of experience in the movement to end gender-based violence.  In 2018 she rejoined Sanctuary for Families, where she is the Director of Family Law and Policy for the agency’s practices in the Bronx and Manhattan Family Justice Centers.  Previously, when Friedman graduated from law school with an Equal Justice Works public interest fellowship, she created, and for ten years directed, the Courtroom Advocates Project (CAP) at Sanctuary for Families, which remains one of the largest and most successful pro bono domestic violence programs in the country.  Prior to returning to Sanctuary, Friedman served as the Managing Director of the Center for Legal Services at My Sisters’ Place in Westchester County, where she supervised a family law and immigration legal practice providing representation and advocacy to survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. Before joining My Sisters’ Place, Jennifer worked at Pace University School of Law, where she served as the Founding Executive Director of the Pace Community Law Practice (PCLP), an innovative legal services center dedicated to representing low and moderate income immigrants, and training recent law graduates for legal practice.  Prior to that, she served as the Director of the Public Interest Law Center at Pace, where she created and managed pro bono and public interest career development programs for law students.  Ms. Friedman is a 1993 graduate of Columbia College, and a 1998 graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was a Kent and Stone Scholar.   Ms. Friedman is the recipient of many honors and awards, including the New York City Bar Association’s 2008 Katherine McDonald Award for Service to the Family Courts, and the Columbia Alumna Association’s 2003 Alumna Achievement Award. 

Karla George

Sanctuary for Families’ Family Law Project at the Bronx Family Justice Center

Karla S. George is the Deputy Director of the Family Law Project in the Bronx at Sanctuary for Families.  She earned her Juris Doctorate from New York Law School in 2010.  Karla received her Bachelors of Science in Legal Studies in 2004 and a Masters of Arts in Sociology in 2005 from St. John’s University.

Prior to working at Sanctuary for Families, Karla was Managing Partner at Brown and George, LLP, which was previously known as The Law Office of Karla S. George.  In addition to being responsible for the management and operation of Brown and George, she focused on family and matrimonial law.  Karla also served as litigation of counsel to many solo practitioners throughout New Your City and New Jersey.

Throughout Karla’s legal career, she stayed committed to assisting survivors of domestic violence.  She often took pro bono cases from Sanctuary for Families and assisted her own clients who are survivors by offering sliding scale fees.

Karla is an active member of many bar associations including the Bronx Women’s Bar Association.  She is also a member of the New York State Bar Association, New Jersey State Bar Association, and Lawyers Committee Against Domestic Violence (“LCADV”).  

Karla is duly admitted in New York and New Jersey.


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Capri M.

Great information, engaging speakers, important topic. Thank you!

Angela K.

This was an excellent presentation. Thank you.

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