Civil-Legal Advocacy Program

What is the CLA Program?

The Civil-Legal Advocacy Program is a collaboration between the Metro Nashville Government Office of Family Safety and the Legal Aid Society to provide free civil legal representation to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking who file petitions for Orders of Protection in Davidson County, TN. A CLA Program Coordinator is employed to assist in the recruitment, training and technical support of volunteer attorneys and law students who agree to represent victims on the Order of Protection dockets.

Why is the CLA Program needed?

In 2013, Domestic Violence defendants accounted for approximately 20% of all general sessions criminal defendants and domestic violence accounted for 14% of all criminal warrants. Court observations reveal that victims have the assistance of an attorney or law student at the Order of Protection hearing in less than 5% of the cases. Without the assistance of an attorney, objectionable questions by the offender’s attorney and accusatory statements by the offender are often allowed.  Not only does this place the victim at increased risk of having the Order of Protection dismissed, it leaves many victims feeling powerless and unprotected.

Why should I volunteer with the CLA Program?

  • Opportunity to share your gift with some of the most vulnerable in our community
  • Direct experience working with real clients with real issues
  • Direct experience making appearances and trying cases in court
  • Opportunity to gain valuable CLE credit
  • Opportunity to be recognized in the Nashville and Tennessee Bar Associations as a Pro Bono Lawyer
  • Relatively short term representation as Order of Protection cases last anywhere from 1 week – 2 months.
  • Free training and technical support to ensure quality representation

How do I get involved?

Submit a registration form and you will be contacted by the CLA Program Coordinator to begin the application process, which will include a background check.  Applicants will complete 3 hours of training via in-person, online and in-court modules.

This project is funded under an agreement with the State of Tennessee.

This project was supported by Grant No. 2015-WE-AX-0020 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.