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Dollars ‘Pour in’ for Legal Aid Groups

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Three legal aid agencies representing the state’s most vulnerable came together this month to raise funds and have some fun while doing it.

The Delaware Combined Campaign for Justice agencies include attorneys who represent people who are poor, people with disabilities, and victims of crime and domestic violence. The organization doesn’t typically have enough resources to meet the demands for their services. So they held an ‘Oktoberfest’ guest bartender event at Tonic Bar & Grill on October 11, enjoying a terrific turnout and raising thousands to support their clients’ cases.

Dan Atkins, Community Legal Aid Society’s executive director, says the group aims to keep the very poor housed, fed and free of domestic violence. “The work we do is about getting them healthier by making sure they have food on the table, keep rooves over their heads and stay free of domestic violence.”

Several attorneys with the Combined Campaign for Justice agencies — Community Legal Aid Society, Delaware Volunteer Legal Services, and Legal Services Corporation of Delaware — turned out for the guest bartending fundraiser. But lots of judges, lawyers and individuals from companies that provide legal support services to law firms also attended.

Just Legal, Inc. President and CEO Sueann Hall and a team of volunteers helped plan much of the event, including lining up guest bartenders. Hall said the fundraiser is a great way for many in the legal community to come together around a great cause. 

“We like to come out for some good cheer and create a little camaraderie. But this is also a wonderful way for us and other vendors to give back to the individuals for the CCJ,” said Hall. “These attorneys are not motivated in any way by their pocketbook. The attorneys genuinely want to support this cause to help uplift others for whom the cost of lawyers would be out of reach.”

Tricia Widdoss of Skadden earned bragging rights as the top fundraising bartender. Runners up were Bob Brady and Mike Nester from Young Conaway, and Drew Wilson from Morris James.

The guest bartending event kicks off the busiest part of the CCJ’s year-round fundraising campaign. Arthur (Chip) Connolly, III, a partner at Connolly Gallagher LLP, is the 2018 Campaign Chair of the CCJ. He worked for months to generate support and sponsors for the guest bartending event. “The Delaware bench and bar have a long tradition of providing access to justice for those less fortunate in our society,” he said. “I’m really glad we had an exceptional turnout tonight along with generous financial support, which will help the agencies that make up the CCJ to serve their mission.”

Atkins says representation of the very poor has been undervalued and underfunded in the United States. “We have diminishing resources to meet the demands of several vulnerable groups, and that’s unfortunate. There is a constitutional right to representation in criminal cases but not civil cases.”

A robust group of guest bartender volunteers – 24 in all served up libations, including professionals from the three legal aid groups plus Connolly Gallagher; Wilks Lukoff & Bracegirdle; Richards Layton & Finger; Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor; Morris James; Rhoads & Morrow; Pelican; Veritext;  Whiteford Taylor & Preston; Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Coggin; Bayard, P.A.; Gellert Scali Busenkell & Brown; Skadden; Carvertise, Inc.; the Delaware Department of Justice; and the DE State Bar Association.

Photos by Karen Brooks.


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