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March 30, 2009 

MEDIA CONTACTS: Claire Duggan 
(202) 994-0616;
Joan S. Meier
(202) 994-2278;


WASHINGTON - The Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment & Appeals Project, an entity of the GW Law School that partners with a network of law firms providing pro bono representation, has been awarded a Washington Area Women's Foundation 2009 Leadership Award for its outstanding legal work on behalf of victims of domestic violence in the Washington, D.C., area. The project is the only organization in the District or the nation specializing in expert appellate legal representation to domestic violence victims who would otherwise be unable to seek justice in appellate courts.

"We could not be more pleased to receive this award," said Joan Meier, executive director of the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project. "We greatly admire the Washington Area Women's Foundation and are thrilled to be part of their impressive community. We also are eternally grateful for the incredible support provided by the GW Law School, without whom we could not do most of what we do."

As one of 10 awardees, the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project will receive a $10,000 grant. In addition, one of the 10 awardees will have the opportunity to  win an additional $5,000 in the foundation's online voting contest, which is designed to build support to new and existing supporters. Vote for the project by visiting:

The mission of the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project is to provide a stronger voice for justice by fighting to overturn unjust trial court outcomes, advancing legal protections for domestic violence victims and their children through expert appellate advocacy, training lawyers, psychologists and judges on best practices, and spearheading domestic violence litigation in the United States Supreme Court. The project has obtained a number of significant victories in the D.C. Court of Appeals, including cases mandating children's safety as the first priority in deciding parents' visitation rights; establishing that civil protection orders must be aimed at restraining abusers and not at stopping victims from "provoking" the abuse; and affirming the right of victims to enforce their own protection orders, among other critical issues.

In addition to providing appellate litigation in state courts, the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project also spearheads the domestic violence community's litigation in the Supreme Court, participates in local and national law reform, provides intensive consultations to lawyers and parties in domestic violence litigation, and conducts trainings and presentations on appellate advocacy and cutting-edge domestic violence issues for domestic violence organizations, pro bono law firms, judges, and victims.

For more information about the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project, visit
For more news about The George Washington University, visit

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