Brandeis graduate chosen to head Legal Aid Society

Brandeis graduate chosen to head Legal Aid Society

The Legal Aid Society has named Neva-Marie Polley as its new Executive Director. Polley was selected by the Board of Directors after a 5-month national search.

Polley is a 1999 graduate of the Brandeis School of Law. She began at Legal Aid in 2005 as a staff attorney in the Family Law Unit, where she served as an advocate for low-income domestic violence victims. Polley developed and launched the Domestic Violence Advocacy Program, a partnership with numerous social service organizations that helps victims of domestic violence obtain protective orders and seek safety through the court system. The program now provides free legal representation to about 800 clients annually.

In 2013, Polley was named the Legal Aid Society Director of Volunteer Services and Community Engagement which places cases with volunteer attorneys in the private bar.  According to a news release from Legal Aid, Polley revitalized the program and engaged private attorneys through innovative projects such as Project H.E.L.P. (Homeless Experience Legal Protection), Volunteer Lawyers for Veterans, the Pro Bono Guardian Ad Litem Program, and the Economic Development Program.

"After a long and exhaustive search, we found the perfect candidate for the job already serving at Legal Aid. Neva-Marie Polley has a long, successful history of standing up for our clients in the courtroom and elsewhere, as evidenced by her results for clients and numerous community awards. Ms. Polley leads by example, and I am confident she will lead and inspire as our next Executive Director," Legal Aid Board President Jim Straus said in the release.

Polley succeeds Jeff Been, who is retiring. She will assume the duties of Executive Director on February 1, 2016.

"The Legal Aid Society has served as a professional home for me for the past 10 years, allowing me to engage in meaningful work on the individual and societal level," Polley said. "In addition to professional growth and satisfaction, I am also personally enriched by serving with many fine co-workers and clients who inspire and humble me with their strength, resilience, and wealth of character.  I am grateful to be chosen to serve as the next Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society and am thankful for the opportunity to continue to serve our clients and our community."

Polley began her career as an advocate for the poor at the Louisville Metro Public Defender’s Office in 1999. She received her J.D. from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. She also holds M.S. and B.S. degrees in Justice Administration from the University of Louisville.

Polley is the recipient of numerous professional awards including the 2014 Judge Richard Revell Award presented to the Family Law Practitioner of the Year by the Louisville Bar Association; 2010 Member of the Year presented by the Women Lawyer’s Association of Jefferson County; 2010 Marshall Eldred Award for Excellence in Advocacy presented by the Legal Aid Society; 2000 and 2005 Excellence in Advocacy Award presented by the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy; and the 2003 R.P. McMurphy Award presented by the Louisville Metro Public Defender.