Associate Dean for Clinical Programs Remembers Shelly Darling and Liz Whipple

April 15, 2017

By now, many of you know that the Law Clinics at Alabama lost our colleagues, Liz Whipple and Shelly Darling, in a tragic electricity-related accident at Lake Tuscaloosa.  We are stunned and heartbroken, as are their families.  The two were great friends, and shared a love for their work, rescue dogs, stylish boots, and a quirky and totally irreverent sense of humor that regularly gave way to big laughter.  They were our self-appointed social directors, and could find an excuse for a party on any given occasion.  For those of you who did not know them, I’ll share a little about their time here.

Liz had been a student in our first Domestic Violence Law Clinic, and was coaxed back to Alabama from her DV work in Atlanta to serve as director of that clinic in 2015.  She was a natural teacher, and her legal skills and compassion in dealing with survivors of violence inspired others.  Active in the Tuscaloosa community and the larger DV services community, she chaired the Tuscaloosa Domestic Violence Task Force, was on the board of the local women’s shelter, and reached out to train law enforcement on the issues about which she was passionate.  She continued to be active in Georgia, as well.  Her impact on her students, the law school, and the community will be lasting.

Shelly came to UA Law in 2014 as a staff attorney in the Elder Law Clinic.  Due in large part to her bright intellect and high energy, she instantly fit into the work and into the organization.  She had a special rapport with clients, some of whom would call her at all hours for advice on all manner of things.  Her patience with them was remarkable.  Students found her to be an excellent role model as an attorney, a formidable advocate with a practical nature.  Aside from her work, she could not resist picking up stray dogs, and, likely as not, keeping them.  She will be greatly missed.

On April 21, our law school community gathered for an informal remembrance of Liz and Shelly.  The stories shared brought home the importance of the work that we do. We will strive to honor their lives by following the examples of service they set for us.

Sincere thanks to each of you who have reached out with support and a shared sense of loss.  

With sadness,

Anne Hornsby, on behalf of the Law Clinics at Alabama

EARLIER:

Dear Law School Community,

I reach out to you to share some unhappy news about two of our colleagues. Liz Whipple and Shelly Darling died Friday, the result of a water-related accident at Lake Tuscaloosa. This is wrenching news for all who knew them. Liz was concluding her second year as Interim Director of the Law School’s Domestic Violence Clinic. Shelly was a Staff Attorney in the Elder Law Clinic since 2014. Both were committed to values of equal justice, and each was a beloved member of the community.

Please keep Liz’s and Shelly’s families and friends in your thoughts and hearts during this heartbreaking time. I do not yet have information about funeral or memorial for Liz or Shelly, but I will share that and other information as I receive it. Counseling services are available for all students, faculty and staff of the Law School. Those details were contained within the email version of this message.

In sadness,
-Mark