2016 – Virginia L. Torres

Virginia Torres pursued and graduated with a dual MSW/JD degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Virginia knew that with both degrees, she would have the necessary tools to deliver holistic services to people in crisis and better understand the legal and mental health issues impacting survivors of domestic violence.

Virginia has been able to put both degrees to good use at Life Span since 2013, where she works with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault so that they get the legal help and support they need to find safety, rebuild their lives, and heal. As the only Spanish-speaking attorney with a social work degree at Life Span, Virginia works in a variety of capacities at the organization. Primarily she handles domestic violence and sexual assault cases, including representing survivors in their related immigration and family law cases. Her cases are often complex and the stakes are high. Life Span’s executive director says that Virginia “works hard, looks for opportunities to try new things, and does not shy away from forging new ground in cases.”

In her role as a social worker at Life Span, Virginia provides individual counseling to domestic violence survivors. Virginia also co-created and facilitates a weekly survivor support group. In recognition of the important work Virginia does at Life Span, she was nominated by the faculty and received recognition as “1 in 100 Most Notable Alumni,” commemorating Loyola’s School of Social Work centennial year.

Virginia’s deep commitment to public interest law started when she was in law school. She was a member of the school’s Public Interest Law Society and worked as a Bilingual Domestic Violence Advocate at Sarah’s Inn, an organization providing comprehensive services for families affected by domestic violence. In addition to working full time and being a dual degree student, she sought out other public interest internship opportunities, including working as a law clerk with the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, a legal intern with the Cook County Public Guardian’s Office, and a social work intern with West Suburban Senior Services.