Sally Newman ’10, founder of Charleston Legal Access (CLA), died on August 16, 2019, at age 36. Born in Montana, Newman graduated from Dartmouth College in 2005 before attending NYU Law, where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar and an editor of the NYU Review of Law and Social Change. After graduating from the Law School, Newman served as an associate attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charleston, South Carolina, and then completed clerkships with Judge Harry Edwards of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and Judge Richard Gergel of the federal district court for the District of South Carolina.
In 2016, Newman founded and became legal director of CLA, a nonprofit law firm dedicated to serving moderate- and low-income individuals and expanding access to justice in South Carolina. Newman told the Charleston City Paper in 2016 that her interest in providing legal aid to those with limited access stemmed from her personal experience: “When I was a kid, my dad couldn’t afford a lawyer when he was working through some custody issues,” she told the City Paper. Later, as a judicial clerk, she said, she saw many instances where people involved in proceedings had a good legal position but needed an attorney’s advice to formulate an argument that the court could act upon: “I came out of that job really feeling that there are so many people who need to have access to an attorney who can’t get it because their resources are so limited.”
“[Sally] believed that lawyers have a duty to serve the public good,” wrote Judge Edwards in remembrance of his former clerk. “And she worked tirelessly to achieve this ideal, not just with an advocate’s zeal, but with dedication, compassion, patience, and understanding. People rallied to support Sally’s efforts because of her great professional work on behalf of others and her uncanny ability to connect with others in ways that made them want to be on the side of the angels.”
Diagnosed with osteosarcoma in January 2018, Newman wrote about her experience with illness in a series of posts on Medium. “Sally touched so many people, many of whom had never met her. Her unfailing commitment to serve the public interest, determination to assist underprivileged members of society, and sterling accomplishments made her shine. And her grace and wise words about life, even when she was terminally ill and hurting, were inspirational to so many people,” Judge Edwards wrote. “Her fortitude and commitment to doing good in the world will be missed. But her memory is a blessing.”
Posted September 5, 2019