Maureen Holland JD'89 learned in depth about civil rights employment law as senior federal judicial law clerk at the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee in the 1990s.
With her own Memphis-based firm now, Holland & Associates, PC, she focuses on civil rights employment law and labor law cases.
Her passion for equality and civil rights led her to become one of the attorneys involved in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that brought a decision in support of same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015. Jim Obergefell of Ohio was the lead plaintiff, but several other states had cases that were part of the consolidated case. Holland was involved with the Tennessee case, Tanco v. Haslam.
"Being part of a collaborative team who helped change the landscape and achieve marriage equality for same-sex couples has by far been my most fulfilling and rewarding legal achievement," Holland says.
She wrote an essay about her experience with the Tennessee marriage equality case that was published in November 2015 in the University of Memphis Law Review.
For Tanco v. Haslam, Holland worked on legal filings, strategy and a joint appendix for the Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky parts of the consolidated case. She also facilitated media coverage for one of the plaintiff couples.
Holland is gratified by her less-publicized legal victories, too. Her younger daughter, Yvette—born while Holland was a VLS student—is associate attorney in her firm.
"I like that I can solve complex legal problems that often result in systemic change for the better. I pride myself on being able to creatively solve and see solutions to problems that others may overlook. These creative solutions and my persistence in trying to never take 'no' for an answer—all the while finding respect and compassion for all of those involved in the process—have gotten me to where I am today," she says.
VLS also has played a significant role.
"If each journey begins with a single step, all of my many steps would not have been possible without the education I received at VLS," Holland says. "In my work lives the educational excellence that I received from VLS."