Attorneys Evon M. Spangler and Rachel T. Schromen have been involved throughout their lives, in different capacities, in helping victims and survivors of domestic abuse safely exit violent relationships. Being passionate about helping others and providing a voice to the often voiceless, they saw an unmet need in their state for pro bono legal services to women and their children who are staying at shelters. As a result, on January 4, 2016, they formed Domestic Abuse Legal Advocacy Center, PSC.

Domestic Abuse Legal Advocacy Center, PSC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm. The founders of the organization, in their experience, have seen how legal advocacy plays a vital and critical role in stopping the cycle of abuse. In a recent study by the Institute for Policy Integrity, “Supporting Survivors” July 2015, the authors of the study determined that legal advocacy decreases the cycle of domestic abuse. As a result, Evon and Rachel have worked on creating a means of delivering legal advocacy in a way that would be attainable by those in need, and most effective in helping victims and survivors of domestic abuse safely exit abusive relationships and situations.

The innovative model that Evon and Rachel created was to bring pro bono legal advocacy, through volunteer attorneys, directly to victims and survivors of domestic abuse at shelters the non-profit law firm collaborates with in Minnesota. The organization provides monthly legal advice clinics at Women’s Advocates, Inc. in St. Paul, Minnesota and Home Free in Plymouth, Minnesota. In addition, legal clinics are provided several times a year at Headwaters Intervention Center, Inc. in Park Rapids, Minnesota. All three of the shelters can also contact the founders for pro bono legal advice regarding emergency cases. Furthermore, as of February 2017, Domestic Abuse Legal Advocacy Center, PSC provides pro bono in-court representation, through volunteer attorneys, to clients of Women’s Advocates, Inc and Home Free for Order for Protections and eviction expungements.

Domestic Abuse Legal Advocacy Center, PSC has two primary goals: 1) provide pro bono legal services to victims and survivors of domestic abuse at Minnesota shelters; and 2) provide trainings and education to victims and survivors of domestic abuse, service providers, and the community with respect to legal rights, financial security, mental and physical health and overall well-being.

In its first two years, the organization, through legal advocacy provided by dozens of volunteer attorneys, helped hundreds of individuals and children at shelters. In addition, during that time period, it conducted four volunteer attorney trainings that trained volunteer attorneys on issues that affect victims and survivors of domestic abuse. We also, in the first two years provided trainings to dozens of staff members at the three shelters our organization collaborates with in order for shelter staff to have a deeper understanding of the legal issues that affect victims and survivors of domestic abuse and to train them on best practices. Finally, with our goal to educate victims and survivors and the community, through various events in the past two years, we have reached more than 10,000 individuals regarding issues affecting domestic abuse victims and survivors and raising awareness about these issues.

Domestic Abuse Legal Advocacy Center, PSC relies heavily on donations from individuals and businesses. Thanks to the generosity of primarily individuals and businesses, we continue to meet our yearly goals. In 2017 thanks to the generosity of our supporters, board and volunteer attorneys, we met our goals, which included adding one additional shelter, providing pro bono in-court representation to the two Twin Cities shelters, and hiring a part-time executive director whose primary responsibility is to be the supervising attorney.

Publications

Spangler, Evon M.; de Stefano, Perry M; and Schromen, Rachel T., “The Role of Victimization versus Survivorship for Victims of Domestic Abuse: How to Use Personal and Community Resources to Move from Victimization to Survivorship.” The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social, and Cultural Context. Volume 11, Issue 4 (December, 2015), 1-10.

Spangler, Evon M. and de Stefano, Perry M., “A Practitioner’s Viewpoint: Effectively Representing an Incompetent Client in Custody Proceedings,” International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, Vol. 3, No. 5, (September, 2013)

Spangler, Evon M. and McFarland, MiaLisa, “A Parent’s Undocumented Immigration Status Should Not Be Considered Under the Best Interests of the Child Standard,” William Mitchell Law Review, Volume 35, Number 1, (2008)