Pro Bono Legal Services


Sanctuary for Families depends on the work of pro bono attorneys to assist our legal staff in meeting the legal needs of our clients.

Sanctuary for Families’ Center for Battered Women's Legal Services has been certified by the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board as an Accredited Pro Bono CLE provider in the State of New York.

We offer the following pro bono projects:

The Family Law Project trains and mentors pro bono attorneys to represent domestic violence victims in order of protection, custody, visitation, and child support matters. These cases provide excellent opportunities to gain courtroom experience and oral advocacy skills, and may also require motion practice, negotiation with opposing counsel and law guardians, and legal research and writing.

The Immigration Intervention Project trains and mentors pro bono attorneys to provide immigrant domestic violence victims with legal services that allow them to obtain permanent resident status or citizenship. Pro bono attorneys prepare battered spouse waivers, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitions, VAWA petitions for cancellation of removal, petitions for U visa status, petitions for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), and asylum applications as well as applications for naturalization.

The Courtroom Advocates Project (CAP) trains and mentors new law firm associates not yet admitted to the bar to advocate for pro se domestic violence victims when they first enter family court seeking orders of protection. Associates help victims draft their petitions and serve as advocates during the initial court appearance. When cases become contested, associates assume representation of the victim under Sanctuary’s student practice order and under the close supervision of a senior staff attorney. (Law students also assist domestic violence victims through this project.)

The Uncontested Divorce Project offers pro bono attorneys and paralegals the tools and supervision they need to help domestic violence victims obtain simple, uncontested divorces. The attorneys and paralegals work closely with clients to draft pleadings and prepare the documents required for an uncontested divorce. There are generally no court appearances in these cases. (Law students also assist domestic violence victims through this project.)

The Contested Divorce Project provides pro bono attorneys the opportunity to litigate contested divorces for domestic violence victims who desperately need to sever all ties with their batterers. Pro bono attorneys appear in Supreme Court under the supervision of a senior staff attorney and represent their clients though all aspects of litigation.

The Community Law Project offers pro bono attorneys the opportunity, under the supervision of a senior staff attorney, to provide linguistically and culturally competent representation in family law and immigration matters to survivors of domestic and gendered violence in ethnic and historically-marginalized communities, including LGBT, Asian, African, and Latina communities. Currently, the greatest need for pro bono assistance falls with clients who speak the following languages: Spanish, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, and Bengali.

The Anti-Trafficking Pilot Project offers pro bono attorneys the opportunity to assist victims of sex trafficking with their complex legal issues and economic concerns and also provides an outlet for pro bono attorneys to lobby in support of important public policy change.

Please note: The majority of pro bono legal services are arranged through partnership programs with area law firms and not through individual volunteers. From time to time we do have individual pro bono opportunities, though those opportunities require in-person, onsite visits during weekday business hours.

To learn more about these opportunities and get involved, please email