News and Information
May 09, 2011

Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society director selected for Legal Aid Award

Attorney Larry T. Harley of Abingdon, who is in his 18th year as executive director of the Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society, has been named the 2011 recipient of the Virginia Legal Aid Award bestowed by the Virginia State Bar’s Committee on Access to Legal Services. The award will be presented on June 17, 2011, during the VSB Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.

At SVLAS, which provides civil legal services to low-income clients, Harley supervises a staff of 35, including 13 attorneys who work in offices in Castlewood, Christiansburg, and Marion. He joined the agency as a staff attorney in 1979, the year he received his law degree from the University of Tennessee.

In notifying Harley of the award, VSB President Irving M. Blank wrote, “For the past 30 years, with extraordinary dedication and expertise, you have led others or personally engaged in the provision of legal services to low-income clients.”

Through a Family Preservation Collaboration pilot project in Washington County, SVLAS and the county’s Department of Social Services help families so their children don’t have to go into foster care.

Under his leadership, SVLAS became the first legal aid program in Virginia to provide foreclosure counseling and intervention through a grant from NeighborWorks America, a corporation-supported nonprofit group that works for affordable housing.

SVLAS, working with the Charlottesville-based Legal Aid Justice Center, developed partnerships with community health clinics so that patients facing eviction, utility cut-offs, or wage garnishment can get legal assistance.

Harley challenged a Virginia policy that required indigent persons who wanted a no-fault divorce from an incarcerated spouse to pay for a guardian ad litem for the spouse. The settlement led to modification of the policy. In another challenge, a hospital was found to have violated the federal Hill-Burton Act for turning away an uninsured woman who thought she was in labor.

In addition to his law degree, Harley has an undergraduate degree from Emory and Henry College.

Updated: May 09, 2011