London Office Assists Domestic Abuse Victims During Pandemic

Thursday, February 2, 2023

As COVID-19 triggered lockdowns in many countries, officials and victims’ advocates noted an alarming rise in domestic violence, seeing an increase in homes where it already existed and its inception in families previously untouched by violence. This disturbing development prompted 30 Morgan Lewis lawyers from our London office—including partners, associates, and trainees—to heed the call for help from the UK’s National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV).

Our Morgan Lewis team devoted upward of 1,300 hours of pro bono service working on 67 NCDV cases. At the height of the emerging pandemic, volunteer lawyers assisted remotely on 33 cases.

One case stands out as an example of our work: Two of our volunteers assisted a domestic abuse victim in obtaining an emergency injunction from the UK family courts. This gave the victim protection from her estranged daughter, who had subjected our client to physical violence and verbal and emotional abuse intermittently over a period of several years, reaching an apex as the pandemic raged. Following various instances of abuse at our client’s home and place of work, our client was trapped due to UK lockdown measures. As the abuse victim explained to our volunteers, she was “in a constant state of fear, living with one eye over [her] shoulder.”

Our volunteers helped the abuse victim prepare the necessary court paperwork. They assisted our client remotely and under time pressure, advising on the various and ever-changing pandemic-related procedural rules governing the operations of the UK family courts. After two hearings, the UK family courts granted the injunction and our client received protection from her abuser.

Morgan Lewis was ranked eighth out of 25 firms by Law.com International/Legal Week on its UK Pro Bono Rankings 2020 list, with special mention given to our assistance on domestic violence cases through the NCDV.