Ask his former colleague, and it sounds like Trey Daly got the short end of the career stick. “Trey’s pay is low, his hours are long, and he certainly does not enjoy the glamour, status or perks of private lawyers,” says Andrea Zigman, a former managing attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, where Daly has worked for 20 years.
“Instead,” Zigman says, “the rewards of his career come from persuading people that health care can and should be available to everyone.” Daly can do without the glamour, status and perks. As a public interest attorney, he’d be too busy to enjoy them anyway.
Daly, who earned a degree in political science at Xavier in 1983 and a law degree from the University of Kentucky, joined the Legal Aid Society in 1990 where he began representing individuals being denied Social Security benefits. Now Daly helps hospitals improve their low-income patient care and fixes regulatory oversights that disadvantage the poor.
Daly recently negotiated with Hamilton County Job and Family Services, for example, to help people applying for Medicaid. Before, applicants had to submit their paperwork in person to the Over-the-Rhine office. Parking was expensive, the hours were inconvenient and many fell through the cracks. Thanks to Daly, Medicaid applicants can now fax their forms from any county library.
“That’s another way that we help people to become financially stable,” Daly says, “to eliminate complications that are going on in their life that interfere in their ability to obtain their own financial support.”
In 2009 Daly was one of 10 health care leaders from around the country to receive the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leaders Award, which recognizes individuals who “overcome daunting obstacles to improve health and health care in their communities.”
“It’s been very fulfilling work,” Daly says. “I’ve been grateful that I’ve been able to stretch the boundaries of what a lawyer gets to do.”