On October 25, 2016, the LA County Domestic Violence Council will award Community Legal Services (CLS) paralegal, Mary Lozano, with the Betty Fisher Award, a prestigious honor awarded to an individual who demonstrates an outstanding commitment and dedication to the field of domestic violence prevention and intervention.
For 36 years of her legal career, 17 of which were with CLS, Mary has served as a passionate and dedicated advocate for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Legal Aid’s Directing Attorney, Holly Edwards, describes Mary as a true “champion” in this field. Mary empowers survivors by helping them prepare pleadings and by educating them on their legal rights and obligations. She devotes countless hours to answering victims’ questions, and has the unique ability to write incredibly persuasive declarations to file along with their petitions for restraining orders.
In many ways, Mary goes above and beyond for her clients. Last week, a client had no money for clothes for her son who only had two hand-me-down shirts from his sisters. Upon hearing this, Mary started a clothing drive and procured new sets of clothes for the child so he would have new clothes to wear on his first day of school.
Not only does Mary serve as an impassioned advocate for her clients, but she also serves as a vital resource and coach to her colleagues when it comes to working with this unique and underserved population. Mary has taught paralegals & paralegal students, law students, and attorneys how to work with victims of trauma as well as the legal skills associated with a complete filing with the court. Over half of CLS’ attorneys have been trained by Mary. “I can personally testify that over seven years ago, Mary gave me the passion to work with survivors of domestic violence that still motivates my work on a daily basis,” says CLS Staff Attorney Hadar Zemah.
Mary’s favorite part of her job is educating the community on domestic violence, sexual assault, and family law. Mary has given presentations at numerous community organizations including Su Casa, Women and Children in Transition, Angel Step, Helpline Youth, and the Salvation Army.
“There is a wealth of misinformation out there,” explains Mary. “Every time I give a presentation, I often hear from the public, ‘isn’t X, Y, or Z true?’ or ‘my cousin’s case went like this, mine will too right?’ In some families, trusted family members who have gone through their own legal case consider themselves to be mini-lawyers and are giving people bad information. One of the most pervasive myths I hear in my work is about counseling. Many of my clients tell me they don’t want to go to counseling because they believe that is only for ‘crazy people.’”
Through her efforts, hundreds of Spanish speaking community members throughout southeast Los Angeles have received accurate and informative presentations on domestic violence and sexual assault.
We are proud of Mary for receiving this great honor from the LA County Domestic Violence Council, and can think of no one else that is more deserving. Congratulations Mary!