CHARLESTON – Bruce Perrone, Legal Aid of West Virginia advocacy support counsel, has been honored with a 2017 Lawyers & Leaders award presented by the West Virginia University College of Law and West Virginia Executive Magazine.

The award is presented in recognition of dedication to service and making a positive difference at the state and national levels.

Bruce Perrone, Legal Aid of West Virginia's Advocacy Support Counsel
Bruce Perrone, Legal Aid of West Virginia's Advocacy Support Counsel | Photo contributed by Legal Aid of West Virginia

An attorney with a 39-year history of providing legal services, Perrone, who was one of only 15 lawyers across the state of West Virginia so honored, said his co-workers at the Legal Aid of West Virginia all share in the credit for the award.  

“I believe the Lawyers & Leaders award is actually recognition of the incredible work Legal Aid does to help people throughout West Virginia,” Perrone said in a statement to The West Virginia Record.

Lawyers & Leaders inductees "have dedicated their careers to service to others and their communities," and "they embody the virtues of excellence, leadership, service and ethics," the Legal Aid of West Virginia website stated.

Legal Aid of West Virginia is an organization tasked with providing civil legal aid, counseling and advocacy services; particularly among groups including low-income residents, elderly, the disabled and victims of domestic violence. The organization has 12 offices covering the state of West Virginia with 100 staffers.

Perrone said the organization handles a wide variety of cases involving people who need advocacy and who might not receive justice without its services.

“Our work may help one frightened woman get a domestic violence protection order, or help a family fight off a DHHR (Dept. of Health and Human Resources) mistake that wrongly claims the family owes $16,000 for child care services delivered five years ago,” he said. “Or advocates may represent a family with a special needs child trying to get the best possible services.”

Perrone grew up in South Carolina, attended Davidson College in North Carolina and then Washington & Lee Law School in Virginia.

“A Reginald Heber Smith national legal aid fellowship brought me to West Virginia in 1978,” Perrone said. “I’ve been here ever since doing legal aid work.”

Perrone served as a staff lawyer, executive director, litigation director and since 2002 as Legal Aid advocacy support counsel.

“About half my work is to support our advocates across the state, mentoring, co-counseling, reviewing and editing written work, and putting legal content and resources on our program’s internal advocacy website for everyone else to use,” Perrone said. “The other times I handle cases both in Charleston and in other parts of the state.”

Perrone said the work can sometimes be “heart-rending.” 

“You can be helping an elderly person in a nursing home who is not getting the dignity they deserve,” he said. “Or maybe you’re helping an elderly person in a rest home recover assets stolen by an untrustworthy family member who should have been protecting the money.”

Perrone said he feels blessed to be working with such fine co-workers doing good for the people of West Virginia.

“I hope the Lawyer Leader award brings a little bit of recognition for the difficult work our advocates do every day all across West Virginia,” he said.   

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