By Andrea Lannom - email
Three questions have applied to almost every part of Charleston lawyer Anna Dailey's life.
First posed by Lou Holtz, a retired football coach, these three questions are: Are you committed? Do you care about me? And can I trust you?
"I think that's the way you approach the workplace, the people you work with and the people that work with you," Dailey said. "When the answer is ‘yes' to all of those things, you will have a good relationship with people."
And in every job Dailey has undertaken, good relationships have always been important.
Dailey said she always knew she wanted to be a lawyer, noting she spent many hours watching the Perry Mason TV show.
"I have to say, I always wanted to be the investigator," Dailey said.
For quite a while, she didn't spend a lot of time in one state. Dailey said she ended up moving from Canada to Los Angeles to New York and then a small community in Tennessee.
While in Tennessee, she spent a year studying at Nashville's Vanderbilt University and then transferred to Middle Tennessee State University in nearby Murfreesboro.
However, she and her parents ended up moving to West Virginia, where Dailey took a minimum wage job at a mental hospital.
It was at this job where she rediscovered her dream to become a lawyer.
"One of the other aides had hit a patient and I had reported it. And it wasn't just hitting, it was really beating a patient. … I was wood-shedded by the director of the hospital. After that, I decided I wanted to go back to school to get a degree and go to law school."
She went back to Vanderbilt where she was a triple major in English, psychology and sociology and afterward attended the West Virginia University College of Law.
After she went to law school, she worked as a legal aid lawyer for a couple of years in Martinsburg. She later ended up taking a job at the Department of Interior and after that, worked for Smith Heenan & Althen, a boutique labor law firm representing coal companies.
"I represented, along with the boutique law firm, all the Massey subsidiaries during the UMWA strikes. There was a lot of violence. I crossed a lot of picket lines," she recalled. "I remember loading nine supervisors in the back of my mommy van and crossing the UMWA picket line up north."
In 2003, she came to Dinsmore & Shohl along with some of her friends from the boutique law firm's Charleston office.
"I think it's important that you like the people you work with," she said. "You never know when you're going to find mentors. They aren't always going to be like you, think like you or react like you."
So, what does Dailey like best about her job?
"I like helping people do the right thing," she said. "Most times, when folks call, they've made a mistake and want to right it or believe they haven't done anything wrong and want advice on how to handle it. People can be messy. We make mistakes. We do things we wish we wouldn't have done."
When she does have free time away from her job and her other projects working with the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation and serving on the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce's board of directors, Dailey likes to spend time with her son Brendan and she also likes to scuba dive with her husband, Peter.
"It's one of the hardest things I learned to do to overcome fear. I love being in the water but breathing air at that depth made me nervous. I'm proud of having overcome that."
She and her husband also like to make wine.
"We have a stainless steel kitchen area in our basement where we use import juices and make and bottle our own wine," she said.
Family is important to Dailey. She and her husband call Charleston home and wouldn't have it any other way.
"This is my home. I've adopted it or it's adopted me in a big way."
Dailey said there is one case that she will always remember, even though it didn't go the way she had hoped.
"I will never forget that case," she said, recalling she was six months pregnant at the time. "We lost over a $1 million dollars and I was driving home thinking, ‘See, you still have a house, you still have your husband and you still have your baby. It's going to be OK.' "