The former Executive Director of Legal Services Corporation of Delaware (LSCD), Douglas B. Canfield, was awarded the Commitment Award at the 2020 Christopher W. White Distinguished Access to Justice Awards Ceremony. Doug was presented this award by long-time friend, and LSCD board member, James J. Woods, Jr.:
I first met Doug Canfield when we were taking the Bar Review course in the summer of 1981. I knew almost instantly that he had common sense and high intelligence because we agreed in the first or second class that anyone who’d graduated from an accredited law school should be exempt from the Bar Exam. I forget whether he made the motion, I seconded, or vice versa, but somehow the vote on that extremely meritorious proposition got tabled.
During our careers at different law firms, Doug and I often had lunch together, advised each other of some hot new verdict, trial tactic, or other legal news, and otherwise did our best to advance truth, justice, and the American way. A second thing we have in common is a desire to ensure that people are treated fairly, especially in their dealings with government agencies, insurance companies, and other corporations large and small. As a still wet-behind-the-ears attorney, I accepted pro bono representation of a young man victimized by a fly-by-night aluminum siding company that did a terrible job on his house and yet had the unmitigated gall to try to enforce the second mortgage it slipped among the contract documents he signed. I had no clue about the Truth in Lending Act, but Doug graciously educated me, sent me case law, proofread my pleadings and briefs, and thus helped the client get the mortgage satisfied and receive a cash settlement.
When Doug started Legal Services Corporation of Delaware and asked me to be on the board, I was flattered and of course accepted immediately. When I subsequently missed a meeting and was voted board president in absentia, I learned something.
As many of you know, money is often an issue for non-profit legal service entities. I have seen Doug make compelling presentations to funding sources, and I have also commiserated with him when he was upset about losing a talented staff attorney because LSCD couldn’t offer a more competitive salary. In lean times Doug stopped hiring a tech professional and thus had to install software updates for the entire office by himself, usually until midnight or so. Many times Doug turned down raises and/or bonuses that the board wanted to give him (it took a polite but firm statement from Justice Randy Holland to get Doug to stop). The board has had to remind Doug to take vacation…in fact, we conditioned more than one raise or bonus on his promise to take at least a week at a time. If Doug has lost any hair in the almost 40 years I’ve had the pleasure of knowing him, it is probably due to the frequency with which he changes hats.
I have never known anyone more dedicated to a job that paid far less than he was and is worth. [Folks], I give you the standard by which all non-profit executive directors should be judged…my friend Douglas B. Canfield.
Congratulations to Doug Canfield, and LSCD, for this incredible honor!