Photo of Alyssa Rao

Alyssa Rao

  • Hosted by Greater Boston Legal Services
  • Sponsored by The Morrison & Foerster Foundation
  • Service location Boston, Massachusetts
  • Law school Boston College Law School
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Domestic Violence
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Alyssa (she/her/hers) advocates on behalf of survivors of domestic violence by representing them in the early stages of their family regulation cases.  She also represents survivors in their related Probate and Family Court and District Court matters.

In Massachusetts, low-income survivors of domestic violence, many of whom are people of color, are not guaranteed representation in this early stage of a family regulation case, putting their rights to their children at risk. Alyssa’s project addresses this need by providing early, prophylactic representation to survivors of domestic violence embroiled in the family regulation system to protect their rights and to prevent further exacerbation of trauma and poverty.

Alyssa is inspired by the survivors that she has worked with and is driven by a firm belief in keeping families together to prevent further poverty and trauma.

Fellowship Highlights to Date 

In the first year of the Fellowship, Alyssa has:

  • Provided full representation 15 clients with involvement with the Department of Children (DCF) and Families and the Probate and Family Court
  • Represented one client in appeal of DCF finding of neglect and successfully overturned that finding
  • Presented pre-petition representation at the Massachusetts Bar Foundation’s Juvenile and Child Welfare Conference
  • Met with directly impacted community leaders to discuss “Know Your Rights” trainings

Next Steps 

In the next year, Alyssa plans to:

  • Research DCF policies and regulations to identify potential opportunities for high-impact litigation
  • Develop a “Know Your Rights” curriculum for families involved with DCF and begin presenting to directly impacted individuals and community organizations
  • Continue representing clients in Probate and Family Court, District Court, administrative proceedings, and, where appropriate, Superior Court

Media

Morrison & Foerster Partners With Equal Justice Works To Support Recent Law School Graduates With A Passion For Public Service

Alyssa Rao Wins Prestigious Equal Justice Works Fellowship

The survivors of domestic violence that I work with are incredibly devoted to their families and their children. I try to match that passion in protecting survivors’ rights and keeping their families together.

Alyssa Rao /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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