Development & Alumni Relations Office 

NEVADA 2020 YOUNG LAWYER OF THE YEAR IS QUEEN’S GRADUATEBronagh Kelly with State Bar of Nevada Award

02 September 2020

Bronagh M Kelly, LLB 2010, who has been practicing law in the United States since 2012, has received the State Bar of Nevada 2020 Young Lawyer of the Year Award.

The announcement was made on August 10 by the Managing Shareholder of Woodburn and Wedge in Reno, Nevada, where Bronagh has been an Associate for over three years. The Award was formally presented by the Past President of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Nevada, Paul Matteoni, at their 31 August meeting.

Talking to Queen’s about her latest achievement Bronagh said: "It is such an honour to receive the State Bar of Nevada 2020 Young Lawyer of the Year Award. I have a passion for the practice of Family Law and am very privileged to be able to serve my community.

“I take pride in my work and the duties and responsibilities that it brings.”  

The Young Lawyer of the Year Award is presented to a young attorney or attorneys whose professional and public service achievements merit special recognition. Although all commitments to civic participation and community service achievements that advance the state of the profession are considered, special consideration is given to contributions to the State Bar of Nevada and its Young Lawyers Section.

Recipients will ordinarily be Nevada lawyers who are either under the age of 36 or who have been engaged in the practice of law from less than five years.

Actively involved in the legal and non-legal community, Bronagh volunteers with the Lawyer in the Library program, providing legal services to those who cannot afford an attorney. At all times, she also has at least two active pro bono cases, and her work often involves being the attorney for a child who has been removed from their home and is currently in foster care.

In 2019, Bronagh was elected as the Young Lawyer Representative on the Access to Justice Commission. The Commission has recently embarked upon an aggressive comprehensive agenda intended to improve the ability of all Nevadans to utilise the state’s legal system by improving the delivery and funding of legal services programmes, along with pro bono and self-help services.

“Queen's provided me with the groundwork on which to build my career,” said Bronagh. “The opportunities were endless and the encouragement received from the professors and staff enabled me to pursue my dream of starting my career in New York City. Queen's is internationally renowned, enabling me to sit the New York Bar Exam immediately after graduation.”

With a real love of languages – in particular Spanish – it wasn’t just a passion for law that she pursued at Queen’s.

“I love that I was able to combine my legal studies with my passion for foreign languages while at Queen's. This was one of the most attractive aspects of my chosen pathway.

“It was also during my year spent in Salamanca as part of my Law with Hispanic Studies degree that I met my husband!”

Clearly no stranger to winning awards, during her time at Queen’s Bronagh won the School of Law Equity Prize, (1st in Year, 2010), the School’s European Substantive Law Prize, (1st in Year, 2010) and the School of Languages and Literature Distinction in Spoken Spanish (2010).

Graduating from Queen’s in 2010 with a Bachelor of Laws in Common and Civil Law with Hispanic Studies, Bronagh spent her third year at the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain (2008-09), studying Spanish Law, Spanish language, as well as other European languages.

After graduation, she passed the New York Bar Exam in 2011 and began practicing law the following year at the nationally renowned firm of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin in New York City.

While in New York, Bronagh gained extensive litigation experience and handled complex commercial liability cases from inception through resolution, which included motion practice, court appearances, and client contact. Her clients included an international furniture manufacturer, two of the world’s largest hotel chains, car rental companies, international clothing retailers, an international not-for-profit conservation society, and some of the nation’s largest insurance companies. Many of the cases were valued in excess of $10 million.

After marrying a fifth-generation Nevadan in 2016, she relocated to Reno (where she now calls home) and joined Woodburn and Wedge, transitioning her practice from commercial defence litigation to family law as well as commercial and civil litigation.

Her current areas of practice include family mediation, child custody visitation and parent/child relocation, premarital and postnuptial agreements, litigation of divorce and legal separation, post-divorce disputes, and adoption matters.

In 2019, she attended the prestigious National Family Law Trial Institute in Houston Texas.

On the Board of the Northern Nevada Women Lawyers Association since 2018 and currently Secretary, Bronagh is Nevada State Bar Young Lawyer Representative – Access to Justice Commission, and a member of the Washoe County Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association.

In addition to a busy career, she still finds time to volunteer for charitable good causes. “I am passionate that justice, and the legal system, must be accessible to all, not just those who can afford to pay.

“I have been an active volunteer with Ronald McDonald House Charities. I sit on the Gala Committee and am involved in the fundraising for, and planning of, the annual Red Shoe Gala.” 

And there’s more good news for Bronagh! Later this month she is to be awarded the Belfast Medal of Honour by the Belfast International Homecoming – Legal Symposium, though given the restrictions of the pandemic, the event will be virtual.  

Outside of work, the former pupil of Dominican College Belfast enjoys skiing and kayaking at Lake Tahoe, travelling to new places, and getting home to Ireland to visit family as often as possible.

To what does the successful young attorney attribute her many achievements?

“The connections I made during my time at Queen's have proven to be invaluable to me.

“I truly believe that none of these accomplishments would have been possible without the instruction and guidance provided by all during my time at Queen's University."

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit a graduate news item, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen’s University Belfast. 

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