The memory of a domestic violence victim will have a lasting impact at the School of Law as an anonymous donor has pledged $1 million to support the school’s Family Justice Clinic and create a Distinguished Law Fellowship, both bearing the victim’s name – Jane W. Wilson.
Wilson, a resident of rural North Georgia in her early 30s, was shot and killed by her second husband of just three days during August 1976. Her two young children, aged 10 and 8, witnessed the homicide.
By making this gift to the law school, the donor hopes to help “others similarly situated – in particular, victims and families who often find neither help nor hope.” The intention is to place an emphasis on “avoiding domestic violence and its consequences” for families through education and resources including “legal representation so as to provide both meaningful assistance and precious hope to victims and their families.”
The law school’s Family Justice Clinic – which opened in 1998 under the name Family Violence Clinic – provides low-income survivors of domestic violence and stalking in Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties with direct representation as well as legal and extra-legal support free of charge. The clinic also provides legal advice and referrals to victims in neighboring counties and throughout Northeast Georgia as well as consults on legal issues affecting victims with local and regional social service providers and advocates.
The clinic will now operate as the Jane W. Wilson Family Justice Clinic under the direction of Clinical Assistant Professor Christine M. Scartz (J.D.’94).
With the assistance of law students, during the 2019-20 academic year, the clinic logged more than 2,700 hours of service to over 200 individual callers seeking assistance. This represents a 16% increase in the number of callers over the previous school year, despite the clinic implementing remote working conditions due to COVID-19 during the spring semester.
The $1 million donation will also fund the Jane W. Wilson Distinguished Law Fellowship, a prestigious full-tuition-plus scholarship that will be awarded to an academically accomplished student with an interest in serving victims of domestic violence and other family justice issues.