Pro Bono Volunteer of the Month – November 2017
Shelly Cooley of The Cooley Law Firm
Shelly Cooley has been practicing law in Nevada since 2004. She opened a solo practice in 2009 with a focus in family law. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and a minor in Human Development from the University of California, Davis and her law degree from the William Boyd School of Law. Before becoming an attorney, Shelly was an elementary school teacher for five years. She has gained the credential of Certified Family Law Specialist by the State Bar of Nevada. She is Chair of the State Bar of Nevada, Family Law Section, Executive Council (and was elected to the Council in 2010), Chair of the Board of Certified Family Law Specialists, and she was Vice Chair of the State Bar of Nevada, Family Law Section, Executive Council from 2015-2017, and Editor of the Nevada Family Law Report from 2010 to 2015. Shelly has also been selected to serve as a Settlement Hearing Master, Parenting Coordinator and Guardian ad Litem through the Eighth Judicial District Court.
Shelly is a longtime volunteer with the Pro Bono Project at Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. She has accepted 26 pro bono cases in a range of areas, including domestic violence, divorce, custody, adoptions, termination of parental rights and name and gender marker change.
Shelly has been providing pro bono services since the start of her legal career. She believes that an attorney’s job is to serve her clients and the public good. She says, “Being an attorney is an extraordinary calling – it is about helping people who need help.” She uses a quote by Mother Teresa, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” By doing pro bono service, Shelly believes she can positively impact people’s lives.
In regards to a memorable pro bono client Shelly recalls representing a couple who had been married for more than 24 years. During the marriage the wife had an affair, resulting in a child. When the child was born, they put the biological father’s name on the birth certificate and the child took Biological Father’s last name because they thought it was the “right thing to do”. After the child’s birth, Biological Dad disappeared. The family and child wanted to go through confirmation process in Catholic Church and the child wanted to have the same name as his mom and siblings (and the Father who raised him). Shelly assisted the family by doing a TPR and filing for Adoption. The Adoption hearing was a huge celebration for the family and they were overjoyed.
Shelly also loves handling the name and gender marker change cases. She says, “These folks want their name and gender to match who they are on the inside. It is awesome conducting the prove up hearing, watching the individual state their birth name and gender for the last time, and then seeing the joy when the Judge Orders the Name and Gender Marker change final.”
For her commitment to representing pro bono clients, we honor Shelly Cooley as the November Pro Bono Volunteer of the Month.