According to Wikipedia:
Following graduation from law school, Holton served as a law clerk for Judge Robert R. Merhige, Jr. of the Richmond-based United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. From 1985 to 1998, she worked as an attorney for the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, where she helped create an award-winning volunteer lawyers’ program in Richmond. From 1998 to 2005, she served as a Judge on the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court for the City of Richmond. Holton was chief judge of the court from 2000 to 2003. She resigned from the bench following her husband’s election as Governor in December 2005.
That sure sounds like an ideal resume for a person near the top of the Executive Branch. Sounds like she brings experience with the three core pillars of the ATJ triad.
- Experience as a line attorney,
- Experience as a judge, including with administrative duties
- Experience working in pro bono administration.
While others, like Hilary Clinton, have experience in one or more of these roles, Holton must be unique in this combination.
Holton is ideally positioned to be an advocate for not merely for funding, but for the range of innovations that can only happen with insight into the needs of all these sectors — and beyond. Her current experience as Virginia Education Secretary, and her connections to the Anne E. Casey Foundation, suggest an openness to comprehensive and innovative approaches, that are designed strategically, often with a long term pilot state focus.
Lets hope that this will make it easier for us to start to think earlier rather than later about the transition to an even more ATJ friendly administration, and thinking about how the outgoing administration might be able to help lay the groundwork for such a major focus. Hilary Clinton, after all, was the Chair of the LSC Board as far back as 1978-1980.
As the quote below from a 2011 interview prior to her giving the Commencement Address at the Univ of Richmond School of Law shows, she has stayed deeply interested in access:
Why did you decide to focus your work on helping families?
The focus on families and children came about through my legal aid work and as a judge in juvenile court and it’s such challenging and important work. … One of the things I learned in legal aid is the importance of treating people with respect and dignity — that means a lot to people, particularly those who haven’t been treated that way, even if you don’t get the results you hoped for. One of the most gratifying aspects about legal work in any capacity is that you are serving a client, you are a servant leader, and it is rewarding.
What has been your experience working with students from the University of Richmond School of Law?
They are a terrific group of students who are all very committed, enthusiastic, interested and eager to be out doing things in the community and getting their hands dirty in legal work. Back during my legal aid days, we had a non-credit clinical program where UR students volunteered under my supervision, representing clients in administrative hearings before the Virginia Employment Commission. Later on the law school had clinical law students working in for-credit positions at my court. I’ve also been an occasional guest speaker at the law school.
What’s your advice for students who want to work in public service careers?
There are lots of ways to do public service and that’s one fun thing about our careers, so it’s important to think broadly about what constitutes public service. No one will get rich being a public defender or a prosecutor or working in the commonwealth attorney’s office, but they are good positions and they pay decently and they offer a terrific learning environment. Also, in private sector law some people do pro bono work from within firms. There are so many ways to do public service law — we don’t all have to be legal aid attorneys.
More on Virginia Education Secretary Holton here.