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Gerald Hayden

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Attorney, 
Hayden & Hart PLLC 
Beckley, 37

While some students toiling away at law school have big dreams of working in large firms, Gerald Hayden always knew he wanted to come home to Mullens.

Hayden, who graduated from Concord University and got his law degree from Cleveland State, said his intent was to get a degree and come back to the Wyoming County town to open his own firm. But circumstances got in the way.

"While I was studying for the bar in Morgantown, the flood came through in 2001 and it completely devastated my hometown," Hayden said. "Nearly every business was lost. It put me in a tailspin as to finding somewhere else to go. My dad was able to help get me a job."

Hayden was able to get a job with former Attorney General Darrell McGraw, and he worked for the Beckley public defender's office and for another attorney before striking out on his own. In 2005, Hayden was able to recruit a law partner to form their own firm.

"From the business aspect, I took control of our marketing and daily office management," Hayden said. 

"My partner has no interest in it; he just wants to practice law. It's a good match. Things really took off and progressed."

Hayden recalled one case when a lightning strike caused a gas line to explode at a Wyoming County mine site. No one was hurt or killed, and the mine's insurance company selected Hayden & Hart to represent it in court.

"That case took three years to work its way through, and it gave me a big opportunity to argue that case," he said. "It settled in the middle of trial. Financially it helped out the office, and from a reputation standpoint it really helped."

Hayden said he appreciates coming into the office every day and knowing he is part of the reason it's successful.

"Many of the professionals you see, they work for a large firm," he said. "They have a job at a place that's been there 50 or 75 years. My office and everything I've received has come from what I built with the assistance of a great staff and an awesome partner. It was my vision, and so far the lights are still on here at the office."