Contributed by Emelia Vigil
Congratulations to the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault’s Volunteer Attorney of the Month, Jon Marc Petersen! One of the ways that ANDVSA’s legal program supports survivors is through pro bono legal services. Volunteer attorneys are central to this mission, donating their time and skills to improve the lives of survivors. Jon Marc is no exception – his devotion to helping others did not begin when he started volunteering with ANDVSA, but his pursuit of justice through ANDVSA on behalf of survivors is certainly commendable.
Jon Marc moved to Alaska as a two-year experiment in 2005 – fifteen years, several career moves, and six children later, he and his family have fully woven themselves into the community in which they reside. Moreover, Jon Marc has invested time into the lives of those in need, citing the empowerment of clients as a driving force behind his volunteer work.
He initially served as a District Attorney in Palmer, before establishing Denali Law Group in 2007 with Richard Payne. Before volunteering with ANDVSA, Jon Marc independently took on pro bono work, stating that people feel drawn to his practice in search of support. It appears that his reputation as an empathetic, dedicated advocate for survivors precedes him. In one instance, a mother found herself in his office in the midst of a domestic violence-related custody case in tears and in need of legal assistance. Jon Marc consulted the woman and undertook the entire case pro bono, gaining custody, and more importantly, changing the life of his client for the better.
The positive impact that Jon Marc has had on the legal affairs of his clients is large, but his impact on their social-emotional lives is even greater: “Once you’ve dealt with the DV dynamic over and over, you see patterns emerge. You have empathy. Clients have sometimes felt hopeless for so long.” He adds that he utilizes words of affirmation to rebuild the confidence of individuals who may have been subjected to violence and abuse. For attorneys new to family law, Jon Marc names empathy as the most valuable tool in helping others.
Outside of his law practice, Jon Marc enjoys spending time with his family – sledding and ice-skating in the winter, and dip-netting in the summer. ANDVSA thanks Jon Marc for everything he’s done for the organization as a whole and survivors in particular!
If you are an attorney interested in volunteering for us, visit http://www.andvsa.org/volunteer-now/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to sign up!