2024 Design-Your-Own Fellowship Applications are Open

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Elissa Gray

  • Hosted by Family Violence Appellate Project
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, The Clorox Company Foundation
  • Service location Oakland, California
  • Law school University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • Issue area Domestic Violence, Pro se and other legal representation systems
  • Fellowship class year 2023
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Elissa (she/her/hers) will increase access to writ review for low-income domestic violence survivors facing harmful orders that lack adequate remedies through direct representation, resource development, and community partnerships.

Survivors of domestic violence use the civil court system to request legal orders (such as writ petitions) that can improve their safety and security. However, when reviewing these requests, judges can misunderstand the law, choose to misapply the law, or fall prey to biases. This leaves survivors to deal with the effects of dangerous legal decisions and a lack of protection. Survivors need appellate level intervention to challenge harmful orders—and they often need it immediately, as they are unable to wait years for a direct appeal. Therefore, the necessary remedy is a writ petition, but writ review for domestic violence survivors is an underdeveloped area of law and largely inaccessible.

Elissa’s personal and professional experience with survivor advocacy motivates her to ensure survivors have meaningful choices through the law.

Fellowship Plans

Elissa will advocate for the improved safety and well-being of domestic violence survivors by making writs an alternative and more feasible appellate remedy. Elissa will design a screening, assessment, and direct representation framework for writ cases, expanding on the Family Violence Appellate Project’s successful model for direct appeals. She will then use that framework and her case outcomes to develop and distribute external resources to advocates and survivors across California. At every stage, Elissa will collaborate with community partners to ensure the effectiveness and accessibility of her project.

I grew up supporting survivors because they are my family, my friends, and my loved ones. This project allows me to continue that advocacy by developing tools and offering support for survivors to empower themselves in the legal system.

Elissa Gray /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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Host: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.

Sponsor: Texas Access to Justice Foundation

Amber VanSchuyver

Host: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.

Sponsor: Texas Access to Justice Foundation

Jessica Cassidy

Host: Texas Legal Services Center

Sponsor: Texas Access to Justice Foundation

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Emilia Golanska

Host: Philadelphia Legal Assistance, Inc.

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP