CHARLESTON – Legal Aid of West Virginia attorney Maureen Conley won the inaugural Success Stories Award from the West Virginia Women Attorneys.
The award is given to female attorneys for outstanding contributions to the West Virginia legal community.
Dominque Razzook, another attorney with Legal Aid, nominated Conley for the award.
"Maureen Conley is one of those rare people in the world who places other people’s needs above her own, time and time again," Razzook wrote in her nomination. "She has always been an inspiration to me and over the past four-and-half years of working with her, my admiration for her giving and dedicated spirit really has just grown stronger. I have only met a few people in my life who care so genuinely and tirelessly for the needs of our community, for the client and for domestic violence victims in particular."
Razzook wrote that Conley could have been a locally famous family law attorney bringing in a lot of money, or even an amazing family court judge, yet she chose to dedicate her time at very low-monetary compensation, to work weekends and evenings most weeks, for low-income domestic violence victims.
"She’s one of the most modest people I know, but everyone at Legal Aid knows what this singular person has done to advocate for domestic violence victims and low-income individuals for the past 30 years," Razzook wrote. "She’s changed many lives. She’s made people feel - who felt like they were nothing and their needs could not be placed on the same level as the aggressor - like they finally had a voice and like they finally had someone who really had their backs."
Stephanie Coleman, the treasurer of WVWA, said she was excited and proud that Conley won the award.
"She is well deserving of it. I’m on the board and I’m a founding member of WVWA and when this award was discussed, I was thinking, 'Yeah, I know Maureen would be a great candidate for this award,’" Coleman said in an interview with The West Virginia Record. "Although I did not nominate her, I sent out an email to other lawyers saying, ‘Hey, don’t you think that she is worthy of this award?’"
Coleman said Conley is a litigator and is in court almost every day, which is very unusual.
"She has more cases than anybody," Coleman said. "She is a hard worker. She is a seasoned litigator simply because she is in court all day. I only practice family law about 25 percent of the time, so I rely on her a lot."
Coleman said when Conley is in the office, she is always there to answer a question or bounce ideas off of.
"She is always smiling and laughing. She is invaluable to the Legal Aid team because of her every day in court experience," Coleman said. "You can’t get that from a book. She is always willing to listen and share that with a young litigator."
Coleman said one of the differences she's found with working with Legal Aid, as opposed to working for a firm, is that with a firm, two to three lawyers may be placed on a case, such as a junior and a senior.
"That doesn’t really happen here that much," Coleman said. "We just don’t have law firm resources. That’s what makes her even more valuable to the young lawyers or those who don’t litigate that much because she is a resource. I can’t express how valuable a person is if they’re in court every day - knowing what litigation strategies work, which judges want what and expect - she shares that information."
Conley won the award at WVWA's first meeting in June.