Staff Highlight: One of Legal Aid’s Many Love Stories
Love is always in the air at Legal Aid of West Virginia, not always romantically—though that does happen—but universal love for clients, co-workers, and making a difference. Our staff can frequently be found supporting each other in times of distress, celebrating together in times of joy, and generally battling it out in the trenches together day by day, policy by policy. Beyond that, it’s not unusual to hear about a client or community member whose unmet needs were undertaken by one, or all, of our offices.
Working in an environment where like-minded, supportive people spend the day together can have effects the personal lives of staff. We have had at least two staff couples who have met on the job; we currently have two husband/wife duos working with us; and spouses of our employees often do volunteer work to support legal aid. In an environment where productivity and professionalism are just as important as passion, we thought it might be interesting to highlight one of our marital duos.
Dane Henry and Amanda Gavin are both fairly new staff attorneys to our Martinsburg, WV office, and they happen to be married. They’re no strangers to working or studying together, however. “Since Dane and I grew up together, went to college together, and went to law school together, working together just feels right,” says Amanda.
The pair grew up in Martinsburg and were high school sweethearts. They both received a PROMISE scholarship for their undergraduates in West Virginia then began their careers: Dane in the technology sector and Amanda in nursing. As Amanda explains it, “One day, Dane woke up and decided to go to law school. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision.” While he attended Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, PA, Dane and Amanda frequently discussed his assignments and the law. Her interest became fascination; fascination became motivation. One year later, she enrolled in the same law school.
Their past professions have become invaluable experience for their legal work. Dane recently accepted a position with LAWV where he will tie together advocacy and training with technology in an effort to keep LAWV’s practices on the cutting edge. Amanda helps victims of financial exploitation and domestic violence seek justice—both areas where her nursing experience has proven useful. Dane and Amanda have been thoughtful and deliberate in their career decisions post-law school. Helping West Virginians in the city where they were raised became the ultimate plan.
“My big drive for doing the work that we do is because, frankly, this is not the same town in which I grew up,” says Dane.
“Seeing the hard times that have fallen on our community and our state just means that we need to do what we can to help those in need. The fact that I get to do what I do, to help the people of my state little by little, and do so 15 feet from my wife? That is a pretty awesome opportunity.”
Amanda is quick to agree that their work spouse relationship is an easy path for both of them. They have similar passions, get to serve their community together, and—best of all—Dane is always there to help her take out the trash, at home or in the office.