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LACBA Domestic Violence Legal Services Project Director Debbie Kelly Retires

DVP’s Longtime Coordinator and Paralegal Sara Rondon Named the New Project Director

Not many attorneys can say that they saved lives nearly every day practicing law.  But Debbie Kelly can.  As the directing attorney of LACBA’s Domestic Violence Legal Services Project (DVP) since 2008, and as a staff attorney from 2002 to 2004, Debbie helped thousands of victims of domestic violence obtain literally life-saving restraining orders.

Through DVP’s office at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, Debbie, and longtime DVP Administrator Sara Rondon, trained and supervised thousands of volunteer attorneys, law students, paralegals and interpreters to assist domestic violence victims in completing the daunting temporary restraining order application and making the evidentiary showing needed to obtain relief.  In 2016 alone, the DVP assisted 4,254 victims of domestic violence navigate the Court and seek relief before a judicial officer.

Debbie earned the respect of the Court’s judicial officers, administrators and staff, while at the same time serving as a tireless and outspoken advocate for victims’ rights and due process. She helped streamline the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) application process and introduced innovations such as the DVP’s management of volunteer attorneys and its relationship with a local translation school for a ready supply of critical interpreters. Through coordination with the Court, Debbie helped fulfill the mission of obtaining same-day TRO hearings for any victim of domestic violence arriving at the courthouse by 3:00 p.m.

Debbie plans to enjoy her retirement with her husband Bob, an attorney himself, visiting her children and grandchildren, and travelling near and far to Oregon, South Carolina, Japan and New Zealand. LACBA and the legal community are deeply indebted to Debbie for her dedication, her legal talent, and her service to the public over the years. 

We would also like to congratulate longtime DVP Coordinator and Paralegal Sara Rondon who was named as Debbie’s successor. Sara began working with DVP in 1994 and has been instrumental in DVP’s success and helping tens of thousands victims of abuse. 

As Debbie recently wrote about Sara’s impact at DVP, “[Sara] has provided professional services to thousands of people, frightened, injured and terrorized victims. Her experience, patience, and devotion make her the most valued member of the Project’s staff and an example of Los Angeles County Bar Association’s commitment to pro bono legal services.”