Julia Devanthéry, founding director of the Housing Justice for Survivors Project at the Legal Services Center (LSC), has been selected as a 2022 Top Women of Law by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and was honored at the Top Women of Law event on November 16. This event celebrated the achievements of exceptional women lawyers who are pioneers, educators, trailblazers, and role models. To learn more about the award and this year’s recipients, visit MassLawyersWeekly.com.
“The entire LSC and Harvard Law School community salutes Julia on this extremely well-deserved recognition,” says Daniel Nagin, clinical professor of law and faculty director of the LSC. “Julia embodies what it means to lead, advocate, and teach at the highest levels. She has a clear-eyed vision of what housing justice looks like and has worked relentlessly in pursuit of that vision—including conceptualizing new advocacy models and rallying many others to the cause, which are the hallmarks of a true trailblazer.”
In her work at the Housing Justice for Survivors Project, Julia represents survivors of domestic and sexual violence facing housing instability. Julia has litigated precedent-setting cases at the Supreme Judicial Court, securing life-saving eviction protection for domestic violence victims living in public housing (BHA v. YA, 482 Mass. 240 (2019)). She routinely files amicus briefs in cases that will impact survivors (see Slavin v. Lewis, 2022 WL 2163805 and Beacon Residential v. R.P., 477 Mass. 749 (2017)), and has represented hundreds of individual survivors in evictions, discrimination cases, subsidy termination cases, and cases involving early tenancy terminations. She collaborates with frontline service providers as well as national organizations to train survivors and their advocates about the housing rights of survivors.
Julia co-teaches the Housing Law Workshop and Housing Law Clinic at LSC. One of her recent students shared the following about working with Julia: “I will always think back to my time in the Housing Clinic with the utmost gratitude. Julia provided me the type of care, support, and mentorship that I was so desperately lacking …She is everything I hope to be as a future lawyer and I will forever strive to channel the same level of thoughtfulness, brilliance, and dedication that she brings to her work.”
“I believe that safe, affordable housing is a fundamental right for everyone,” says Julia, “This belief has guided all of my work on behalf of tenants and survivors. The clients I’m honored to represent, and the dedicated clinical students I supervise are fighting for a world in which intimate partner violence does not lead to eviction or homelessness. We aren’t there yet, but I’m confident that we will get there soon.”
Julia was named one of the exceptional “Up and Coming” Lawyers in Massachusetts by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly in 2014. Nnena Odim, then clinical instructor in the Family and Children’s Law Practice, was honored with the Top Women of Law award in 2013, and Maureen McDonough, managing attorney and director of the Housing Law Clinic, received the award in 2015.