ILNews

Prominent employment attorney dies

Jennifer Nelson
September 16, 2008
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Virginia O'Leary, a prominent employment attorney in southern Indiana, died yesterday at the age of 74. O'Leary spent more than 30 years representing women and minorities seeking equal employment opportunities.

"She was the hardest working person we know," said Ginger Rawls, litigation secretary at O'Leary & Associates in Oakland City.

The well-known attorney represented more than 1,000 individual claimants and more than 6,000 class members in employment discrimination and other civil rights cases, according to a nomination form recommending O'Leary for the 2004 Torchbearer Awards presented by the state. She won the honor that year.

"She cared a whole lot about her clients," Rawls said, noting that the clients cared just as much about their attorney.

O'Leary was honored by the Indiana State Bar Association's Women in the Law Committee in 1993 and she received the 1980 Indiana Citizen of the Year award from the Indiana Council for the Social Studies for her work in civil rights.

O'Leary earned her law degree at the University of Louisville in 1971. Prior to becoming an attorney, she worked in Ohio and Kentucky as a teacher.

O'Leary's cause of death is unknown at this time. Rawls said O'Leary had diabetes and had a slight heart attack a few weeks ago, but was improving. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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