Oral History Project of the VWAA

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Ellen Weinman

Ellen Weinman received her undergraduate degree from Hollins College in 1973 and her JD from William & Mary in 1977, where she was one of only approximately 10 women in her law school class. She was admitted to the bar the same year. Returning to the Roanoke Valley after graduation, Weinman became the first woman attorney to be hired in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in Roanoke County. Later establishing a solo practice, Weinman maintained an office in Salem for her entire career. Although now retired, she was a substitute judge in the 23rd Judicial District for much of her career.

Growing up in a family of six children, Weinman embodied her parents’ admonition that “those to whom much is given, much is expected.” While at Hollins, she was among those at the school who established Trust, a trouble center for people in crisis in the Roanoke Valley, with a 24 hour hotline and a place for emergency housing. And as an attorney, Weinman made a lifelong practice of championing, supporting, and representing children and disenfranchised women. A large part of her practice career was devoted to guardian ad litem and pro bono work.

Weinman worked closely with Turning Point, the battered women’s shelter, assisting the women there with legal representation. She served many terms on the board of the Mental Health Association of the Roanoke Valley, as well as serving on the board of Trust, where she has served as a CASA volunteer since her retirement. Weinman was also a part of the Best Practices group that initiated the National Adoption Day celebration in the Roanoke Valley, where she ran the program for 10 years.

Although a formidable opponent in the courtroom, throughout her career, Weinman remained true to her vow that she would not take on as a client a litigant who hated the other party more than they loved their child.

Additional Details

Interview Date: May 23, 2023

Video Transcript