House of Ruth Maryland
After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, Deena Hausner got a job as a legal advocate at a domestic violence organization. In her job, she would accompany clients to court and help them navigate the legal system.
“Anytime I had a question about the law, I had to go to my supervising attorney to find out the answer, and so I decided I should learn how to do it for myself and be the keeper of the information instead of always having to get it from someone else,” she said.
Hausner would go on to earn her Juris Doctor from Boston University School of Law and shortly thereafter joined the House of Ruth Maryland.
“The domestic violence field is (one) that if you get into it, you get into it very, very deeply,” she said. “I was still motivated to work in that area after law school.”
She has been at the nonprofit since 2003, first as a staff attorney, then as managing attorney and now in her current role as associate director.
The most rewarding aspect of her career has been the ability to influence an individual and/or a group of clients.
“Seeing a client who has suffered through years of abuse, degraded and told she will never amount to anything and never survive without her abuser, be able to break out of the relationship and develop this whole new life with her children and become self sufficient and confident and happy and safe, I don’t think there is really anything quite like that,” Hausner said.
Hausner is driven by being able to help people navigate the legal system.
“Domestic violence adds this whole other additional layer of complexity and fear to people being able to navigate the legal system and so being able to offer people the opportunity to get through a court case and come out on other side and have safety and security” is important, she said.
She is chair of the Maryland Bar Association’s Family and Juvenile Law Section Council. She is also on the Steering Committee for the Baltimore City Domestic Violence Coordinating Committee and on the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team for Baltimore County.
Hausner donates her time to other organizations because in order for the legal system to provide safety to individual domestic violence victims, it has to work well as a whole, which involves different aspects.
“Part of my job is not just representing one person in one court case but it is to work to make improvements to the legal system in its entirety to develop relationships with other people within the legal system, because all of that, I think, has a ripple effect to benefit individual victims and our clients but also society. It’s not just victims of domestic violence who have a hard time getting through the legal system. It’s lots of people, and particularly there are so many people who go to court unrepresented because they can’t afford an attorney, and all of us have a role to play in making sure that the legal system works as well as possible so those people have a voice in court, get a say in the cases and decisions that are going to affect the rest of their lives. I see my involvement in some of these other organizations as a part of moving that forward.”
Part of my job is not just representing one person in one court case but it is to work to make improvements to the legal system in its entirety to develop relationships with other people within the legal system, because all of that, I think, has a ripple effect to benefit individual victims and our clients but also society.”