As the Justice Systems Director at End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, Tess Meuer wears many hats.
She provides training for domestic violence program advocates, works with agencies and individuals in the legal system and helps domestic violence programs with legal questions they have about their clients.
Earlier this month, Meuer was awarded the Warren H. Stolper Adjunct of the Year Award by the University of Wisconsin Law School Alumni Association and Board of Visitors for her wide array of legal work pertaining to domestic violence.
The Adjunct of the Year Award recognized the work that Meuer has done in the classroom, teaching students about domestic violence, as well as being a practicing attorney.
According to the law school website, the Adjunct of the Year Award “makes a significant statement about the value and importance that the University of Wisconsin Law School and the Wisconsin Law Alumni Association place on classroom teaching.”
In a statement, Patti Seger, End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin executive director, said, “[Meuer] was the first staff attorney hired by End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. Since that time, she has had an immeasurable impact on the legal community in Wisconsin and in the lives of domestic violence survivors in the state.
Meuer said she began her career originally as a high school teacher, but decided to go into law to bolster the status of women in society. Her first year of law school was the first time she attended a class that had about the same number of men and women, she said.
She started her career assisting victims of domestic violence when a classmate told her about an opening at the Dane Country Advocates for Battered Women, now called Domestic Abuse Intervention Services.
“I was immediately drawn to the social justice nature of doing domestic violence work and helping people better understand the law,” Meuer said.
For the past 20 years, Meuer has also taught a course called Law and Contemporary Problems: Domestic Abuse at the UW Law School. This course is a small seminar class that focuses on issues that victims of domestic violence experience in the legal system.
Meuer said the course makes students more aware of difficulties for victims of domestic violence. These students go on to be family law lawyers, prosecutors, court commissioners and judges, she said. This course also enables students to teach their peers about domestic violence issues, she added.
Meuer also established an internship program at End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, where she is the justice systems director. This internship program engages students in legal issues that victims face like restraining orders, family law proceedings and helping individuals and programs navigate the legal system, Meuer said.
Meuer said the hardest part of her work is not having enough resources to help victims that are in need of legal assistance. She said that the family law system refuses to acknowledge the injustice that is experienced by victims that have to face their abuser without representation.
To help these victims, Meuer said she works with advocates all over Wisconsin who are caring, compassionate and dedicated to helping victims and survivors of domestic abuse.
“I am honored to offer legal information and resources which might allow advocates to better serve female and male victims and their children to better navigate the complexities of the legal system,” Meuer said.