Prof. Andrew Budzinski received the COVID-19 Hero Award from DC SAFE (Survivors and Advocates for Empowerment) at their annual gala last week at The Eleanor DC. Budzinski was nominated by DC SAFE’s Supportive Advocacy Services Director Nicole Walter for the General Practice Clinic’s work with the DC SAFE Petitioner Assistance program.  

“Andy has been an extremely collaborative partner and continues to ask how his team can be of assistance to DC SAFE and the clients we are serving,” Walter wrote in her nomination. “Andy and his team have been a great help to the clients engaging in the CPO process, and he’s been a great partner to work with in these ever-changing times.” 

Along with a team of clinic students, Budzinski assisted clients over the phone in drafting petitions for Civil Protection Orders (CPOs) during the pandemic. During the height of COVID-19, the clinic also led an Alternative Service Project assisting petitioners in overcoming obstacles to serving their abusers with CPO paperwork and taking on cases for full representation in CPO trials. “With the myriad challenges the pandemic brought, virtual court required our students to meet the moment and offer virtual representation,” Budzinski said of the adjustment clinic students and other legal professionals had to make during the pandemic to continue serving clients. 

Several students, staff and faculty members attended the DC SAFE gala to support Budzinski as he received his award. Students included Dolores LopezGenesis Aguirre GuerraJohn Bell and David Bennett. Director of the Criminal Law Clinic Prof. Ieshaah Murphy, Associate Dean of Clinical and Experiential Programs Lindsay M. Harris and Clinical Program Managing Attorney Tiffanny Smith were also on hand to lend their encouragement.  Lopez said, “It was wonderful to take time to come together as members of the clinic program community to recognize the work of Professor Budzinski and Professor Gibbs and my fellow clinic students of the GPC in collaborating with DC SAFE to support and advocate with survivors of Intimate Partner Violence.”

Budzinski said, “I’m honored and humbled by this award, which is really a testament to the incredible work of the students in the General Practice Clinic. So many in the D.C. community did so much, and I’m grateful that our Clinic could contribute to those efforts and increase access to justice for survivors seeking protection.” 

Associate Dean Harris added, “It is a prime example of [Budzinski’s] work as a model for our law students engaging in creative, zealous and compassionate advocacy on behalf of some of the District’s most vulnerable (and resilient) residents. This recognition intersects beautifully with Prof. Budzinski’s scholarship, which examines the challenges around service of process and frames it as an access to justice issue and advocates for electronic service as a remedy.”

Watch Prof. Budzinski's speech

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General Practice Clinic student Dolores Lopez on working with Prof. Budzinski

From left, Prof. Lindsay M. Harris, Genesis Aguirre Guerra, Dolores Lopez

Talk a bit about your work with Prof. Budzinski in the General Practice Clinic.

Dolores: I was in the General Practice Clinic (GPC) in Fall 2021 and again this semester. Last year, I worked with my clinic partner to represent a client in her divorce, custody and child support matter. This semester, Professor Budzinski supervised fellow clinic student John Bell and I in the two Civil Protection Order (CPO) cases we took on this semester.

Prof. Budzinski has helped my clinic partners and I progress as future attorneys by guiding us using the client-centered and trauma informed philosophy of the GPC in zealously advocating for each client. I have learned so much from him, including how to prepare for initial meetings with clients and subsequent interviews and counseling meetings and mooting status hearings through every stage of a CPO hearing. He also provided insightful and encouraging feedback to improve my writing – including a motion for sanctions in the Fall 2021 semester – and during our mooting of the different stages of a CPO hearing. We also meet periodically during the semester to discuss my personal goals of what I want to get out of the clinic experience and assess how I have progressed in meeting those goals.

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