Department of Family Services – Domestic and Sexual Violence Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

703-324-5730
TTY 711

12011 Government Center Parkway, Pennino Building, Floor 7, Suite 740
Fairfax, VA 22035

Toni Zollicoffer,
Director

Volunteer Voices – Partner Spotlight: Legal Services of Northern Virginia

Volutneer Voices newsletter graphic image of conversation clouds, announcement horn, speaker microphone

Legal Services of Northern Virginia’s (LSNV) mission is simple: to provide access to justice for disadvantaged individuals and communities. With its partnership with the Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC), it does just that. 

Though not part of the original DVAC partnership, LSNV was brought aboard in 2010 “because we are the federally funded civil legal aid organization for all of Northern Virginia. We provide the bread-and-butter representation and advice for low-income individuals who have civil legal issues,” says Nora Mahoney, family law practice group chair. “We don’t handle traffic and criminal matters, but we handle everything else we can. One of the biggest needs is often help with housing and eviction but also family law and domestic violence issues.”

For a long time this looked like prioritizing help with protective orders. But the workload was immense. So LSNV created the Attorney of the Day program, the only program of its kind in the state of Virginia. “We recruit and train attorneys,” Mahoney explains. “They sign up a year in advance. If any protective orders come through on the date an attorney has signed up for, that attorney talks to the client and gives advice. If it’s a good case, they agree to represent the person.”

Legal Services of Northern Virginia, LSNV, Opening Doors to Justice logo graphicThe program helps stem the flow of protective orders. According to Mahoney, roughly 800 protective order cases are filed each year and 500 of those apply for LSNV assistance. Of that number, about 350-400 are eligible for LSNV aid. “In fiscal year 2019, 40% of all protective orders filed in Fairfax were offered a consultation with one of our attorneys in the Attorneys for a Day program,” Mahoney says. “Considering how wealthy Fairfax County is, that’s a pretty astonishing statistic.”

Volunteers handle about 70% of the pro bono cases, typically those involving intimate partner violence. 

“That’s the primary point of LSNV’s partnership with the rest of the DVAC community,” Mahoney says. “We can connect with the resources available. Being able to provide holistic services to the clients and having resources to refer people to for their needs that are beyond our expertise is amazing. One of the things we always struggle with is when the client needs so much beyond our legal expertise. We are not counselors and therapists. We are not housing experts. But when we know what the other DVAC partners do, when all the service providers can communicate, it allows the process to happen more smoothly. Those kinds of referrals back and forth really make a difference for somebody.”

During the pandemic LSNV has struggled to maintain its roster of Attorney for a Day volunteers. But LSNV will train any volunteers who are attorneys. Its next training is Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021 from 4-6 p.m.

This article posting is part of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Services' Volunteer Voices monthly newsletter for current and potential volunteers. If you're not already a volunteer, learn how to get involved. Find out about upcoming trainings, volunteer trainings, happenings around the DSVS office and information about articles, books, media recommendations and more.

Learn more about the Domestic and Sexual Violence Services (DSVS).

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