Joley Eason’s desire to help elderly members of her midwest Georgia community began as a young girl, volunteering at nursing homes through her church.
“Everyone was the same — people in wheelchairs sitting around,” Eason says. “I felt people deserved better. Working with seniors is not something I chose — I felt called.”
At first, she wanted to become a nursing home administrator, but realized the work likely would burn her out. “I thought, ‘I’m going to be miserable if I can’t change anything,’” she says. “I can’t deal with status quo.”
A scholarship took her from Georgia to Virginia, where she studied at the College of William and Mary. She pursued law at the University of Pittsburgh as a way to tackle the larger issues behind a failing elder-care system. On her punch list was fixing nursing homes, Social Security and Medicare.
“People rely on these programs so much,” she says, “but can’t really access them and don’t know much about them.”
Eason’s specialty in elder law — which can range from advocating for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to drafting wills and trusts — brought her to Thompson McMullan in 2012. She relishes working with clients one-on-one, and hopes to run for elected office someday to help fix the larger issues. Eason also has focused on pro bono work, recently earning the volunteer lawyer of the year award from the Legal Information Network for Cancer.
“My job gives me a very good perspective on life,” Eason says. “I see people who are sick or have terminal conditions, and it makes you so thankful for what you have. The families I’m working with are usually in very stressful situations, and if there’s something I can do to make it a little bit easier, that’s what I’m here for.”
Editor's note: This story has been changed from the print version to correct the university where Eason studied law and clarify the scope of her practice.