Domestic Violence Update

School of Law to host major conference on domestic violence

Lawyers and advocates will have an opportunity gain a rich, multidisciplinary understanding of the history and current best practices for legal interventions in family violence this November.

Through a major conference at the University at Buffalo School of Law on developing approaches to keeping domestic violence victims safe, participants will learn about current practices, and gain knowledge of new evidence-based methods aimed at curtailing the most serious cases of family violence.

“Domestic Violence Update: Where We Were, Where We Are Now, & the Work Ahead” will be presented Nov. 18 in Room 106 of John Lord O’Brian Hall, the school’s home on UB’s North Campus. The daylong event is sponsored by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, New York Chapter, with the law school, the UB School of Social Work; the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence; the Office of Attorneys for Children, New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department; and the Family Violence and Women’s Rights Law Clinic. It will be moderated by Hon. Jane Pearl, a New York County Family Court judge.

The conference affords 6 Continuing Legal Education credits for legal professionals. It will bring together scholars and practitioners from the fields of mental health, substance abuse, alternative dispute resolution, domestic violence prevention and the judiciary.

“The University at Buffalo School of Law is proud to be the location for such an important conference about domestic violence,” said Professor Kim Diana Connolly, director of the school’s Clinical Legal Education program. “Its messages will amplify the direct service work being done for DV victims by the Family Violence and Women’s Rights Law Clinic, headed by newly hired Professor Judith Olin.

“Professor Olin brings a wealth of experience to the long history of the law school’s commitment to legal support for those facing family violence, and supports students eager to do on-the-ground learning while making a difference. Grants from New York’s Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence help support this vital work.”

The keynote speaker for the conference will be a well-known authority on domestic violence, Professor Peter Jaffe of the University of Western Ontario. Jaffe, who directs that university’s Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children, will speak on “The Impact of Domestic Violence on Victims, Perpetrators & Children & the Implications for Developing Parenting Plans.”

Also featured will be Professor Melissa L. Breger of Albany Law School, author of the authoritative two-volume New York Law of Domestic Violence. Her address is titled “How the Legal System Has the Potential to Change a Culture of Domestic Violence.”

Olin is also among the speakers, co-presenting with Lynette Reda, chief of the Erie County District Attorney’s Office Domestic Violence Bureau, on “The Erie County Domestic Violence High Risk Team: A Multidisciplinary Collaboration for Dangerous Cases.”

“This is a multidisciplinary team that uses evidence-based tools to improve victim safety and offender accountability,” Olin said. “The goal is to reduce domestic violence homicides and near-lethal assaults. It uses three basic approaches: early identification of high-risk cases, engagement of a multidisciplinary team and creation of individualized intervention plans.”

A high-risk team is being funded in Erie County, she said, under a three-year grant. It involves members of law enforcement, victim service agencies, the district attorney’s office, the Erie County Probation Department, and the International Institute of Buffalo, providing technical assistance in working with high risk survivors of domestic violence who have limited English proficiency.

Also among the presenters will be Hon. Lisa Bloch Rodwin ’85, an Erie County Family Court judge, who will address “Advocacy in Domestic Violence Cases: A View from the Bench.”