About Our Project

BWLAP is a state-wide program that serves battered women, their advocates, attorneys and the general public in Minnesota. BWLAP provides legal information, consultation, state-wide training, litigation support, technical assistance and develops model policy for domestic violence programs around confidentiality, record keeping, conflict of interest and children's records, to name a few. We are a unique agency that advocates for system change, advocates to secure access to justice and, advocates to improve the legal system's response to battered women and children. We exist to respond effectively to the constantly evolving legal needs of battered women and we are the first resource people turn to in a legal crisis. BWLAP recognizes the importance of an effective and skilled advocate to support battered women.

There is a myriad of issues for the woman who is a victim of domestic violence. Most of the issues at some point involve legal remedies that require well trained attorneys who understand the dynamics of domestic violence. Unfortunately, there is an exceedingly small number of family attorneys specialized in domestic violence to meet the high demand. A Legal Services Corporation report, Documenting the Justice Gap in America, found that for each eligible person who was served by legal services, at least one eligible person was turned down and that only one in five low-income individuals receive assistance for their legal problems from a private attorney or legal services. However a study by Amy Farmer & Jill Tiefenthaler, Explaining the Recent Decline in Domestic Violence, 21 Contemporary Economic Policy 158 (2003), found the most significant factor for decreasing domestic violence was the availability of competent legal assistance. Therefore the Battered Women's Legal Advocacy Project exists to fill this gap between the represented and the unrepresented by providing competent, on the spot legal advice to battered women, their advocates and their attorneys.

The legal and social landscape is constantly changing within the state. We have seen a trend moving away from providing battered women the legal protections they are entitled to under the law, including the enforcement of orders for protection, access to police reports, consideration of the impact of domestic violence in custody matters and freedom from discrimination in housing and employment. If the women are immigrants, no matter their legal status, they are less likely to receive legal recognitions of their rights at court.

Many women are losing custody of their children to violent offenders, are restricted from moving or keeping their addresses confidential by the family courts, or are coerced into mediation with their abuser. When battered women in Minnesota are facing these kinds of crises, BWLAP is the agency to which they turn.

BWLAP takes a leadership role in several state-wide collaborative efforts to address the legal and community needs of battered women. We have a strong collaborative relationship with numerous battered women's organizations, legal advocacy programs, and legal service providers in Minnesota. As one of two state-wide agencies specifically serving battered women and their advocates, BWLAP often collaborates in a variety of ways from policy to legal actions. However, we are the only statewide agency that provides on the spot, free legal advice, consultation, and technical assistance to battered women, domestic violence advocates, attorneys and other systems professionals.

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