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Trisha Monroe: 2019 Legal Services Award

“Superb.”  “Exceptional.”  “One of the fiercest advocates for domestic violence survivors I have ever met.”  These are just a few of the superlatives colleagues use to describe Trisha Monroe, our 2019 Legal Services Award Recipient.

Thousands of domestic violence survivors have benefited from Trisha’s work on their behalf.  At times, she has even saved their lives. As a Supervising Attorney in the Family Law/Domestic Violence Unit of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, as well as the Director of Legal Aid’s Domestic Violence Intake Center Southeast Project, Trisha has over 15 years of expertise in domestic violence litigation and policy.  She represents domestic violence survivors in civil protection order cases who seek protection from abusers as well as custody and visitation rights of children. She also represents clients in other family law matters such as custody, divorce, and child support. Soon after joining Legal Aid, Trisha took on a large caseload and quickly became a regular at D.C. Superior Court and its Domestic Violence Intake Center. She then played a key role in opening Legal Aid’s satellite domestic violence intake offices in Southeast and Northeast D.C. Her efforts helped to greatly expand the capacity of her unit, which, in Trisha’s first 12 years at Legal Aid, increased its clients by 537% (from 291 to 1,562) and its lawyers by 700% (from 2 to 14).

Despite the emotionally taxing nature of family and domestic violence cases, and her busy daily docket, Trisha “has seemingly limitless energy and fervor” in the courtroom, where she is “exceptionally well-prepared” for her many cases.  At the same time, she maintains “genuine concern and compassion” for clients.  One colleague recalled the “numerous occasions when I witnessed Trisha’s clients express their heartfelt gratitude to her in the hallway after a court hearing where she had helped them obtain a court order that protected their safety.”  As one client stated succinctly: “My lawyer was perfect – she was a strong woman and a good person.”

Before joining Legal Aid in 2006, Trisha worked in domestic violence survivor advocacy for the Women’s Law Center of Maryland in its Protection Order Advocacy and Representation Project from 2004 to 2006, and clerked at the Baltimore City District Court from 2002 to 2003. She earned her J.D. in 2003 from the William and Mary School of Law, where she served on the Bill of Rights Journal, and her B.A. summa cum laude in 2000 from the George Washington University.

Trisha has helped not only clients but also colleagues throughout the entire D.C. public interest legal community. In turn, by helping these lawyers serve their clients, she has helped countless additional survivors. She is a member of the D.C. Bar’s Family Law Steering Committee and many local domestic violence advocacy organizations, and served on the D.C. Superior Court’s Domestic Violence Division Strategic Planning Committee.  She is also a faculty member of the ABA Committee on Domestic Violence, with which she has trained lawyers nationwide on domestic violence, custody law, and protection order cases.  One colleague describes Trisha as a “mentor and role model” for many junior lawyers, including dozens at Legal Aid alone. The National Bar Association’s Women Lawyers Division, Greater Washington Area Chapter recognized Trisha in 2012 as a distinguished attorney in the nonprofit sector.

A mentee explains: “Trisha is particularly skilled at helping attorneys attain confidence and independence in their ability to represent clients. . . . Trisha’s commitment to training and mentoring attorneys stems from her dedication to increasing capacity to assist domestic violence survivors. . . . She has inspired me to redouble my efforts to serve clients and mentor attorneys.”

At the same time, colleagues note that Trisha herself – despite being “highly regarded” in the legal community as a “leader and expert” – prefers not to call attention to her own accomplishments.  She is an “unsung hero.”  We are thus thrilled to recognize her with our 2019 Legal Services Award.

Learn more about Trisha and the other awards recipients at our 2019 Awards Ceremony.