Sometimes, you just have to brag. We at STAR are doing amazing things, and we want to share our progress and positive experiences with you.
Learning—one of six core values here at STAR—is very important in the work that we do. We believe that through expanding our knowledge about ourselves, others, and systems, we become more capable to serve our community. Unfortunately, there are not enough individuals and organizations that serve survivors of sexual trauma. This is why we offer various opportunities for community partners to become trauma informed and to develop a survivor-centered focus in their respective fields.
STAR has partnered with LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center to create a clinical education program where students can gain practical legal experience and serve survivors of sexual trauma. This program, the Sexual Assault Legal Clinic, is the first of its kind in the nation.
Rule XX of the Louisiana Supreme Court permits third year law students to have limited practice of law under the supervision of a licensed Louisiana attorney.
Our Vice President of Survivor Services, a licensed Louisiana attorney, Morgan Lamandre is supervising four law students, or “student attorneys,” from the LSU Law Center as they practice law and learn how to meet the legal needs of sexual assault survivors.
These student attorneys are not just learning how to be good lawyers; they are learning how to be good advocates.
Before they begin seeing their own clients, they must complete extensive trauma-informed training—including the training our advocates go through.
“They are learning information about trauma like all advocates do, because attorneys are advocates too,” Lamandre said.
“Lawyers who provide legal representation to sexual assault survivors need to be experts in various fields of law and trauma-informed,” she said.
When asked why they selected this legal clinic over other opportunities, what they hope to gain, and what they have learned so far, the student attorneys had much to say:
“The fight for justice for victims of sexual assault is not as easy as some may think,”
“I’ve learned how to think creatively using civil remedies to provide each individual survivor with a solution that both fits their own definition of justice and gives them hope to move forward.”
“I felt that this was a great opportunity to work in an area of the law that continues to expand and develop as there is more research and awareness regarding sexual assault. I also saw this as unique opportunity as a student attorney to be part of the survivors’ healing process and growth, and further to advocate for survivors who perhaps do not know of the legal remedies available to them.”
“In my short time at STAR, I have learned that the problems involved for sexual assault survivors are often far more complex than one might think. Given the complications that many survivors face, I’ve learned just how much of an active advocate you have to be to properly represent a survivor.”
—Jeffery “Beau” Wheeler
Because survivors’ needs are vast, our student attorneys will be providing legal representation on numerous legal matters, including (but not limited to):
- Obtaining civil orders of protection for survivors regardless of their decision to report their assault to law enforcement.
- Representation as the “advisor of choice” during Title IX hearings on college campuses and/or enforcing Title IX or other education rights on other educational institutions and administrators (i.e. properly handling the bullying or harassment of student survivors, securing academic assistance or accommodations)
- Housing issues (i.e. securing transfer or terminate lease in public housing)
- Consumer finance issues (i.e. negotiating gym membership termination for survivors who attend the same gym as their offenders)
- Public benefit issues (appeal denials of disability benefits or crime victims’ reparations claims, etc.)
- Custody/parental rights termination, when a child is conceived through a rape
- Victim rights issues (ensure the rights and privacy of survivors are upheld within the criminal justice system)
Lamandre says that much of what she does for survivors requires “creative lawyering.”
“Justice may not be jail for all survivors, so we help survivors obtain justice in ways that may be outside the criminal justice system.”
Even if a survivor is unsure whether their problem is a legal issue or not, we recommend that they call for a consultation with one of our attorneys at (225) 615-7093. If we can’t help you, we will provide referrals.