Sullivan’s POWER Act Leads to 75 Pro Bono Legal Summits Reaching 43,000 Americans in 2020

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) today welcomed a report from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, which detailed 75 events promoting pro bono legal services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault that were held in 2020 in 75 judicial districts across the country, reaching over 43,000 Americans. These summits were organized pursuant to the Pro Bono Work to Empower and Represent (POWER) Act, Sullivan’s legislation that was signed into law in 2018. The POWER Act mandates that, each year for four years, the chief judge of each judicial district across the country holds at least one event promoting pro bono legal services as a way to empower survivors of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault, and to engage citizens.  

The POWER Act also requires the Administrative Office of the federal judiciary to submit a compilation and summary of reports received from the chief district judges detailing each public event conducted in the previous fiscal year. The most recent report, submitted on November 18, 2020, is available here.

“Stemming the scourge of domestic violence and sexual assault requires coming together as a nation to raise awareness of the issue and empower survivors of violence through pro bono legal services,” said Senator Sullivan. “Even in spite of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m pleased to see that, because of the POWER Act, more than 43,000 Americans—up from 7,000 last year—were reached by pro bono legal summits in 2020. When we launched the POWER Act, I envisioned an army of lawyers throughout the country donating their time and expertise to defending victims and survivors of violence. These summits are helping make that vision a reality, giving hope to so many who are suffering and helping them escape the cycle of violence. I want to thank all of the judges and their teams across the country who have helped organize these summits and worked to encourage attorneys to use their services to lift vulnerable women and children out of horrible situations.” 

Background on the POWER Act:

  • The National Network to End Domestic Violence estimated that over the course of one day in September 2014, up to 10,000 requests for services by abused women, including legal representation, weren’t met due to a lack of resources.
  • Research has shown that when abuse victims are represented by an attorney, their ability to break out of the cycle of violence increases dramatically. For example, one study found that 83 percent of victims represented by an attorney were able to obtain a protective order compared to just 32 percent of victims without an attorney.  
  • The POWER Act is modeled after the pro bono summits Senator Sullivan organized throughout the state while he was attorney general of Alaska working on the “Choose Respect” initiative.