Kelsey Raves never wanted to practice Family Law. After a clerkship with the Solicitor General, she interviewed for another position in the Attorney General’s office. But the same day she got the call from them offering her the job, Kelsey also received a call from the Legal Clinic. They wanted her to be a Family Law attorney in the Victim Justice Program. Although the prospect of abandoning the familiar was somewhat daunting, Kelsey felt like God was nudging her towards this new, unknown path. She says, “When I took this job, it was a huge leap of faith for me. It was nothing I ever thought I would do and I didn’t feel like I was super qualified to work with victims.” And yet, with a sense that the Legal Clinic was where she should be, Kelsey accepted.
Over the next few months, this decision was affirmed again and again in various ways. Kelsey says, “In church and devotionals, the message that kind of kept coming up is that God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. So I feel like that’s been a comfort to me, just trusting that I do feel like God has brought me here. Trusting that I’m going to do the work that He wants me to do. And that’s kind of a prayer that I pray just about every day: Let me serve my clients the way that He wants them to be served.”
In her position at the Clinic, Kelsey primarily works with clients who have been referred to her through The Julian Center, a shelter that assists those who have been victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The clients they refer to Kelsey need help with a host of Family Law issues like divorce, paternity, custody, child support, and parenting time. Most cases involve protective orders. In the darkest moments, Kelsey’s faith buttresses her. She says, “When it comes to abuse and violence, I don’t think anyone’s heart breaks more than God’s to see that happening.” She goes on to say, “I’m 27 and some days I still just need to hear my mom’s voice. It’s this safe place. There’s nothing in the world that breaks my heart more than people who don’t have that and who have the exact opposite. Your spouse—the person who vowed to love you and care for you forever—is the one abusing you … The thing that should be safe is the thing that’s most dangerous.”
In spite of these hardships that Kelsey sees on a day-to-day basis, there are hopeful, restorative moments too. She says, "My favorite part [of my job] is having the opportunity to help ease some of my clients' burdens and to watch them find their voice. So many of them are stripped of that in their relationships. It's an awesome and godly thing to watch someone reclaim the fact that they are a human being entitled to thoughts, emotions, and autonomy."
It has been over a year since Kelsey began to work at the Clinic. At this point, she envisions spending the rest of her life in the nonprofit world, and hopes to be at the Clinic for years to come. Finding a home where she can harness her faith in such a tangible way is what gives it meaning. She says, “Our mission statement of seeking justice to demonstrate the love of Christ, I think that’s pretty much the best mission statement you could ever have.”