Campus Community / People of SU / Society / Justice and Law

Transforming Legal Aid

Written by Marketing Communications

March 25, 2022

Portrait of Deidre Bowen. Graphic reads Celebrating Women's History Month. Text below reads Deidre Bowen, JD, PhD, School of Law.

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Seattle University continues its female faculty series in honor of Women's History Month with Dr. Deirdre Bowen.

During the pandemic, Deirdre Bowen, JD, PhD, a professor at the School of Law, created a new pop-up clinic that allows law students to help domestic violence survivors file protection orders in King County. The reach of the clinic has been expanded through two practicums, Applied Family Law and Applied Domestic Violence that were launched this spring.

“Because there's been an uptick in the number of cases of domestic violence, there’s more of a need to help victims of domestic violence fill out the domestic violence protection order petitions,” says Dr. Bowen. 

The pop-up clinic is one of the ways the law school is helping survivors of domestic violence, bolstered by a recent gift from the Moccasin Lake Foundation. Survivors of domestic violence and residents of underserved communities will have greater access to family law services and legal aid, thanks to the Moccasin Lake Foundation’s unprecedented $5 million gift to the law school, which will help create a pipeline of law graduates prepared to help families in need across the state.

To date, Bowen’s students have helped more than 500 survivors—many who are low-income and lack the resources to hire attorneys—complete court-required online legal forms, the first step in filing protection orders. Using remote technology and key partnerships with community groups, Bowen will expand the clinic’s reach, enabling it to help many more survivors.

Part of the gift will help the law school expand the reach of its domestic violence law clinic to areas of the state with few lawyers, what Bowen calls “legal deserts.” She envisions enrolling students who hail from these regions, training them to become family law and domestic violence lawyers and helping them to either set up practices or find positions in their home communities. Already, several students who participated in the clinic and have since graduated are now practicing family law and Bowen believes the gift will help many more law students prepare for this legal career path.

To learn more about the gift from the Moccasin Lake Foundation, visit https://www.seattleu.edu/newsroom/stories/2022/law-school-gift-will-transform-legal-aid-.html.

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