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Ben Salango

Attorney, Preston & Salango PLLC, Charleston, 38

On his first paying job: 

"I worked as a bag boy at Kroger on Harper Road when I was 15 years old."

Attorney Ben Salango didn't take long to settle on law as a career.

"I specifically remember when I  
   enrolled at West Virginia University getting a list of majors," Salango said. "I spent a couple of days looking at the list … and I thought pre-law is the only one out of hundreds and hundreds of potential majors that really interest me; I remember checking that box, mailing in my form, and I never looked back."

Salango, who grew up in Shady Spring, worked at a Beckley law firm after graduating from law school. He then moved to Charleston to work as a partner at Flaherty, Sensabaugh & Bonasso PLLC. Salango left in 2006 to start his own firm — another decision he made without looking back.

"I know most people say that if you have your own business, you work harder, and that's true, but I'm very efficient with my time," Salango said. "I like the fact that if I don't have something on my calendar, I'll go grab the kids and take a hike or play golf. It's not like I feel like I have to be glued to my desk because I don't want my boss to be mad at me."

Salango said he's enjoyed every job he's ever had, including bagging groceries, but the flexibility of having his own law firm gives him time to be involved in the community.

"Every case that comes in this office is reviewed by virtually every attorney in the office, so we're very selective," he said. "We do a substantial amount of work for free, pro bono. I think it's a good thing to do, and there's really a sense of accomplishment when you take on a case like that, when it's not about money."

Salango also is passionate about education. He's president of the board of Charleston Montessori, and he spends a lot of time in the school and doing various fundraisers for it.

He and his wife, Tera, who also is an attorney, have two children, 9-year-old T.J., and 4-year-old Caden. Tera Salango was a Generation Next: 40 Under 40 recipient in 2011.

"I think being a young professional in West Virginia right now is very exciting with everything that's going on," he said. "There are tons of opportunities, but you've got to make your own opportunity."