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Attorneys of the Year: Loretta Frederick

recognition-for-outstanding-serviceThe most recent statistics, from 2015, show that more than 10 million men and women are the object of domestic violence every year. That number is so vast, and violence in the home so common, that it is difficult for some of us to do more than wring our hands.

Thankfully, Loretta Frederick has been devoting her considerable efforts toward the problem since the mid-1980s, starting with the Battered Women’s Legal Advocacy Project (begun at Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services), a statewide domestic violence resource center. While there, she spent a year consulting with the U.S. Marine Corps on domestic violence.

Frederick is now a senior legal policy advisor at the Battered Women’s Justice Project, a national resource center.

The project provides training and assistance to civil and criminal justice systems. Frederick’s focus is on training judges, practitioners and family court staff in the intricacies of domestic violence cases.

Most of her work for the last several years has been with family courts, which the project is improving for battered spouses. “Judges and practitioners all around the country say that child custody cases involving violence are the most complex and challenging cases,” Frederick said.

Parents who use violence routinely take the position that the violence has nothing to do with capacity and willingness to be a good parent and many people don’t really know what the violence means, if anything, to parenting, Frederick said. “We have developed a framework for responding to these cases to figure out what the issues in a case are so that a decision-making structure [for parents] can reflect the actual problems, not what we assume,” Frederick said.

The justice project uses a fact-based look at each family in a concrete, evidence-based format, Frederick said. It has trained about 15,000 people across the United States in the last five years, including in Hennepin County where the courts are working hard, she said.

The profession and society as a whole have learned what an important issue battering is, and that’s because of the outstanding service provided by people like Loretta Frederick.

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