October 05, 2018
When clients visit our Elkins office, they might be surprised to learn that one of the most experienced employees is the one smiling back at them from the front office window. Michele Good is our Elkins office’s legal assistant, which means she is typically the first voice they hear or face that they see. As a former Family Court Judge, Magistrate, and current representative for District 12 on the WV State Bar’s Board of Governors, Michele brings an invaluable arsenal of knowledge and skills to LAWV. Michele served as the 22nd Circuit Family Court Judge covering Randolph and Tucker Counties for eight years. Having not reach the appropriate retirement age and with no desire to return to private practice, Michele’s endeavors here at LAWV began in January 2017, shortly after the completion of her term.
Before serving as the Family Court Judge, Michele served as a Magistrate in Randolph County for 12 years and was an assistant prosecutor in Randolph County for four years; prior to that, she was in private practice for several years. Because of her years of legal work in the community, she was familiar with the Elkins LAWV office and its staff. When she heard that the former Legal Assistant was retiring, she submitted her resume. “I was looking for something in the legal field that offered health insurance,” she explains. It was obviously an easy hiring decision for LAWV.
As legal assistant, her duties include, but are certainly not limited to, opening and closing files, communicating with clients, office scheduling, ordering supplies, drafting correspondences, and reviewing a variety of draft pleadings for LAWV staff, both in and out of the Elkins LAWV office. She has also put her experience to work as a member of LAWV’s Family Law Task Force where she frequently provides opinions and answers to Legal Aid attorneys around the state. Michele is not only an excellent Legal Assistant, but she is also a great mentor to other staff members of the Elkins office, such as staff attorney, Katie Marcum and paralegal, Carmen Howell.
“Katie and I have coined the term ‘doing research’ in the Elkins LAWV office, which actually means ‘Go to Michele for an experienced opinion,’” says Carmen. “She is a huge asset to LAWV. She is always willing to help, and it is a privilege to work with her!”
When she’s not shaping Randolph County’s up-and-coming advocates, Michele and her husband keep a garden on their small farm. “We can or freeze a lot of what we raise. I love to cook, especially when our three children are visiting,” she says. Her family has always been supportive of her career. When she was campaigning, her husband and children attended events, handed out materials, helped hang signs, and “put up with me on stressed out days.”
The Goods love the outdoors and have a small flock of hens, three cats, and a dog, so they are never bored, but when they have free time, they love to bird watch. She brags a little on her farm being perfect for this particular hobby: “This year, we had a pair of green herons nest and raise a brood at our pond.” And if you thought she couldn’t possibly fit anything else into each day, she is an avid reader and quilter, too.
Public service is ingrained in Michele’s DNA and she has continued to provide legal services to the Elkins area through her new career at Legal Aid. Though she’s no longer trying cases, she relishes the chances that she gets to help people, even if it’s just to point them in the right direction for help. “Every time there is a successful resolution of a client’s issue, it’s a ‘YES’ moment for me,” says Michele. “Today, it was a client getting a custody order giving her back her toddler that the other parent had kept away for almost three months.”
Michele has enjoyed her time at Legal Aid and continues to learn each day about her community’s needs because of it. Seeing clients’ struggles and issues firsthand has deepened her appreciation for attorneys who take the time to help ordinary people navigate the complex legal system. “Legal Aid is a resource for those who are caught up in the system and need the expertise of someone who can untangle the legal issues and guide them to a positive outcome.”