More low-income families and victims of domestic violence will have access to legal support thanks to a newly announced fellowship.
The Holland Fellowship, which will be funded in perpetuity by the Randy J. Holland Family Law Chair Endowment Fund at the Delaware Community Foundation, was created to honor the legacy of Delaware Supreme Court Justice Randy J. Holland, who retired in March of 2017 after more than 30 years on the state’s highest court bench.
The Holland Fund will pay for an attorney to work at one of Delaware’s three civil legal aid groups for two years at time. The three organizations, which combined fundraising efforts through the Combined Campaign for Justice (CCJ), are Delaware Volunteer Legal Services (DVLS), Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. (CLASI) and Legal Services Corporation of Delaware (LSCD).
DVLS operates statewide, focusing on legal protection for victims of domestic violence in New Castle County. CLASI represents people who are poor, people with disabilities, and people who are elderly in all three counties, and handles the domestic violence cases in Kent and Sussex Counties. LSCD assists people who are poor in all three counties in consumer, housing, and bankruptcy matters and supports DVLS and CLASI in domestic violence cases statewide.
Each organization will take a turn hosting a Holland Fellow. For the first two years, the fellow will work at DVLS, where duties will include obtaining orders of protection for victims of domestic violence. Then, a new Holland Fellow will be recruited for a two-year term at CLASI, and then another for two years at LSCD.
“We are really excited about the potential of the Holland Fund to attract new law school graduates to Delaware to serve the public interest,” said Dan Atkins, executive director of CLASI. “There is a tremendous gap between the demand for our services and the resources we have to meet the need. This fellowship will help us bridge that gap.”
Those donating to the fund cite Justice Holland’s respect for the values of fairness, equality, and access to legal representation as their motivations for giving.
“Justice Holland was a model public servant, and I love the fact that he will be forever associated with this wonderful cause,” said Greg Williams, CCJ co-chair and an attorney at Delaware law firm Richards, Layton & Finger. “My practice over the past 35 years has been a corporate practice—dealing with the problems of those wealthy enough to invest and those fortunate enough to manage businesses. I love the idea of helping people who do the best they can in a very different, much more difficult part of society. It is so much more meaningful.”
Williams has personally donated to the fund and urged others in his profession to do so.
In only a few brief months of fundraising, the Holland Family Law Chair Endowment Fund reached its goal of raising more than $2.2 million, and gifts are still coming in. The endowment fund has received donations from both individuals and law firms within and outside of Delaware.
Jenness Parker, a former law clerk for Justice Holland, donated personally to the fund out of respect for her mentor.
“Justice Holland’s advice still rings in my ears today as I practice, write, and argue,” Parker said. “Justice Holland is an exemplary person. He is as impartial and unbiased as they come. He is beloved by all, and treats everyone equally, no matter their status. And he truly cares about litigants and their families. The Randy Holland Family Law Chair Endowment Fund is a very fitting way to honor such a judge and person for many years to come.”
Delaware Community Foundation President and CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay said, “We’re grateful that Delaware’s legal community remains so involved in the public welfare, and is willing to make the charitable donations necessary to support it. This permanently endowed position will continue Justice Holland’s legacy of fairness before the law for years to come.”
To support the Randy J. Holland Family Law Chair Endowment Fund, visit delcf.org/Holland or delawareccj.org/rjh-endowment. The DCF is a 501(c)3 organization, and gifts are fully tax deductible to the extent permitted by the IRS.
The CCJ has also launched an endowed fund at the DCF to support the overall work of CLASI, DVLS and LCSD. To support that campaign, visit delcf.org/ccj.