Small town attorney with star studded past


By Kendra Mahon - [email protected]



WILLIAMSON, W.Va. – When most people reflect back on their lives, they acknowledge, things they wish they had done differently, chances they wished they had taken and things they wish they had done or handled differently.

Long-time Williamson attorney Jane Moran can say she took a chance at every opportunity presented to her.

Moran has led a life most only dream about she has been a model, an actress who performed off Broadway, a VISTA volunteer, a brilliant trial lawyer who had the opportunity very few attorneys have. She has argued cases before the United States Supreme Court, appeared before the West Virginia Supreme Court and Fourth Circuit of Appeals and many other accolades.

Most everyone in the Tug Valley area knows Ms. Moran’s name, she is well-respected in the community and by her peers, and is also a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom when it comes to legal cases involving children.

Jane came to Williamson in 1975 at the request of Jim Boomer. Boomer who worked with Mingo County Legal Services had been given Moran’s resume after it had crossed the desk of John Rosenberg, the first Executive Director of the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund or AppalReD as it is known today.

Throughout her 42 years in Williamson Jane has developed a reputation as a fierce advocate for the rights of children and defending the rights of the low-income people accused of crimes.

Although Moran never married or had children of her own, each child she has represented has become hers.

What most people don’t know about Jane Moran, before she decided to plant herself in Mingo County so many years ago she led a life most people only dream about.

At the age of seven years old Moran, who grew up in a small town in Illinois, informed her mother she wanted to be an actress. When she was in the second grade she and another student both vied for the lead in a school play, her teacher who was very insightful decided to cast both girls in the part as twins, one girl was to mimic everything the other girl said. “The other girl knew every line, when I went out and saw that crowd, I just froze,” laughed Moran. After that Moran never had that problem again.

After graduating from high school, at the urging of her mother, Moran attended the University of Iowa, where she majored in theater and minored in Political Science after a year of undergraduate at the university she was given the opportunity by her professor to go to Massachusetts for a job with summer stock.

Moran called her mother after three days in New York and informed her she was in New York and was going to give this performing a try, her mother was not happy with her decision, but she knew when Jane set her mind to do something she was going to do it.

That job opening in Massachusetts landed her up and down the East Coast for the next 12 years of her life.

Moran traveled up and down the coast from New York to Florida performing and modeling along the way. Jane spent five seasons in a repertory theater in Sarasota, Florida. The theater which was owned by one of the last surviving members of the Ringling family has a children’s theater attached to the building and on occasion the actors and actresses who performed at the repertory theater would dress up in the costumes from the circus performances and perform in the children’s theater.

Moran, decided after the assassination of President Kennedy she would take a year off and join VISTA, she was sent to the South side of Chicago for training to be a neighborhood organizer. VISTA then sent her to work as a neighborhood organizer in the public housing project in Springfield, Massachusetts.

After spending three years with VISTA Moran decided she wanted to get involved with social and political work, at the time Robert Kennedy was in the mist of his presidential election campaign and being without money, Moran decided to would go to work for Kennedy’s campaign. In the process of Jane being accepted as a campaign worker, Kennedy was assassinated.

Jane decided she wanted to go back to school, but with no money her dream of attending UCLA was not possible so she enrolled in Los Angeles City College, she took as many classes as she could and made sure every credit would transfer to UCLA. With hopes of enrolling in UCLA, no money and the university not offering a work program Moran had no options but a lot of hope and faith. On the last day of registration she received a letter from and insurance company in Illinois saying her Uncle Billy had passed away and she had been named beneficiary of his life insurance policy, the money was enough to pay for her tuition and books for two years at UCLA.

When Moran decided she wanted to go to law school she was a tenth of a point away from Phi Beta Kappa and couldn’t get an interview, “Every engineer in California was going to law school because the bottom had fell out of the space industry that year,” Said Moran.

As fate would have it Moran received a call from Loyola informing her they had an opening in the night class the next night and ask if she wanted it, she said yes I do, she was then told her tuition would be due when she arrived and she had no money.

When she went home that evening with hopes and dreams of attending law school, but knowing she had no money to make her dreams come true. Ironically, when she arrived home a second check was waiting in the mailbox from the very same insurance company in Illinois saying that Uncle Billy had a second life insurance policy and she was again named beneficiary of the policy.

“At this point I knew there was no doubt I was supposed to be an attorney,” said Moran.

Part Two of the article will be published in next Sunday’s edition of the Williamson Daily News.

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By Kendra Mahon

[email protected]

Kendra Mahon is a reporter for the Wiliamson Daily News, she can be contacted at [email protected] or 304-235-4242 ext 2278.

Kendra Mahon is a reporter for the Wiliamson Daily News, she can be contacted at [email protected] or 304-235-4242 ext 2278.

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