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The Domestic Violence Clinic Exposes Students to Real Life Workings of Court While Helping Those in Need

“I did not have much say in what practice groups I would be in at Legal Aid,” explained Kenyatta Mickles, Assistant Professor of Clinical Law and Director of the Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order Clinic.  “However, after my exposure to the individuals that were indigent and experiencing domestic violence, I knew that I wanted that to be my focus.  Having the exposure of supervising the clinic is what led me to want to be a professor at the College of Law.”

Mickles, a native of Toledo, Ohio, is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, where she majored in criminal justice and minored in psychology.  She went on to attend law school at nearby Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law. 

After finishing law school, Mickles took a position as a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati.  There, she had the opportunity to focus on family law and public benefits.  Interestingly, her family law cases involved representing victims of domestic violence in civil protection order cases, pre- and post-decree divorce actions, and custody cases.  Her public benefits cases centered around helping individuals and families who were having trouble accessing appropriate assistance, such as cash, food, and medical assistance.  It was while working at Legal Aid that Professor Mickles was introduced to the DV Clinic.

The College and Legal Aid Society collaborated eight years ago to create the Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order clinic.  At the clinic, student interns—third year law students who have obtained a limited license to practice law in Ohio—have the opportunity to put theory to practice.  With supervision from an attorney, interns with the clinic represent individuals in Hamilton County who are victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assaults.  A majority of the cases interns have worked on involve representing individuals in civil protection order matters.  This entails assisting with filling out necessary forms, safety planning, litigating cases, filing motions, and making oral arguments to the court.

Prominent Issues in Family Law Today

Professor Mickles talked about the state of family law today. She noted that prominent issues include custody matters, protection of children, and enforcing child support and spousal support.  She offered the following advice for persons interested in family law:  “If someone is interested in working in the family law or domestic violence field, it is important to get as much exposure to the practice as possible.  It is also good to become knowledgeable about domestic violence, even if you intend to represent client who are not in violent relationships. 

“Domestic violence takes on many forms.  It includes not only physical abuse but also isolation, mental, emotional, and financial abuse.  Domestic violence is about power and control by any means.”

The clinic and its students have represented over 500 victims of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, and human trafficking in civil protection order hearings since its inception in 2005.  UC Law is proud to train students to work in this area, gaining much needed experience through the clinic and other programs.