Oral History Project of the VWAA

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Diana Perkinson

Diana Munsey Perkinson has the distinction of being the second woman attorney ever to practice law in Roanoke, where she and her husband, Frank Perkinson, had a well-respected general practice for many years that included collections, domestic practice, and criminal law. She is still actively practicing law out the same office on Kirk Avenue in Roanoke. Growing up in rural Giles County the granddaughter of a man who left the legacy that all of his daughters should receive an education, Perkinson sought and received scholarships to Randolph Macon Women’s College, where she received her undergraduate degree in 1969, and the University of Virginia, where she received her LLB (the predecessor of a JD) in 1972. She was admitted to the bar the same year. Perkinson’s career has been notable for her support of women and children in the Roanoke Valley. Early on, she supported and served on the advisory board for the Turning Point, run by the Salvation Army, the only battered women’s shelter west of Charlottesville at the time. Recognizing, through her domestic practice, the intersection between parents’ and children’s mental health issues and the well being of families, Perkinson was actively involved with the local chapter of Mental Health America, which provided free counseling and free medication to parents and children with mental health issues.

The agency was later absorbed into the estimable Bradley Free Clinic. In 1992, when the Supreme Court of Virginia said that all children who leave their home for abuse and neglect must have an attorney, Perkinson pivoted to guardian ad litem work, which she notes is the “reason I am still practicing at this age.”

Additional Details

Interview Date: June 27, 2023

Video Transcript