Rebecca Holmes

Rebecca Holmes is a May 2016 graduate from Loyola University of New Orleans College of Law where she was the president of the National Lawyers Guild. In that role, she promoted events highlighting social justice and as a Volunteer Income Tax Association (VITA) volunteer, she provided free tax filings for low-income earners. With the support of the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center, Holmes interned at Colorado Legal Services in Denver summer 2015. She assisted indigent clients in filing for bankruptcy, defending against collection and garnishment, and foreclosure prevention. In her last year of law school, Holmes was accepted to the Community Justice section of Law Clinic where she has been lead attorney on multiple cases defending low-income clients in rental housing disputes. Holmes has also served as co-counsel to clients who have faced housing discrimination. For these and many other social justice initiatives, Holmes was awarded the Louisiana Bar Association’s Law Student Pro Bono award for providing “significant support for legal services to Louisiana’s indigent” (2016).

During her year as a Borchard Fellow, Holmes will work with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (“SLLS”) to improve housing issues for elderly clients who can suffer health problems from hazardous, illegal living conditions. Holmes intends to expand and create sustainable services through their Medical-Legal partnership with Daughters of Charity health clinics in Jefferson Parish.

She will assist in the training of healthcare providers to spot legal issues that contribute to the poor health of their patients, so that the providers can refer their patients to Holmes for legal assistance. A typical scenario envisioned by this partnership is a low-income, elderly patient who has asthma which is aggravated by mold growing in her apartment. The healthcare team treating this patient would give referral information to Holmes, who can meet with the patient on-site to determine whether she can assist with the legal housing issues that are contributing to the aggravation of asthma in the patient. In this way, Holmes plans on personally representing at least 50 clients in the housing and elder care, to prevent abuse to the elderly and provide for better health outcomes.

Holmes will also expand her legal skill set to include prevention of elder abuse through the tutorship of SLLS.  She will publish consumer guides for legal housing issues to make available to the general public online and in print, and guides for practicing attorneys in these areas of law.  With a growing population of Spanish-speakers in Jefferson Parish, Holmes will also recruit volunteers, interns, and externs to work at the various Clinic locations around the city to provide legal help in Spanish as well.