Green Bay attorney Gregory Conway credits his family legal pedigree for an extra edge in the confidence department.
Conway’s father, Byron, was a circuit court judge in Wisconsin Rapids. When he retired, Conway’s older brother, Dennis, an established attorney, took his father’s seat on the bench.
Conway gravitated to the courtroom, as well, establishing himself as a trial attorney after graduating from Marquette University Law School in 1970.
“I was never intimidated in terms of doing what lawyers did,” Conway said.
Five years into practice, he got a call from a social services agency in the Green Bay area. A recent Vietnamese immigrant, Duong Bich Van, had given her child over to the U.S. military during the fall of Saigon in what came to be known as “Operation Babylift.” The woman now needed help regaining custody of the child.
Confident he could help, Conway sought the assistance of two Marquette University Law School friends. With local donations to cover their trial travel costs, the trio took on the case pro bono. Within a year, they had reunited mother and child.
“That first day I thought, somewhat naively, that we’d get the kid back after a few phone calls,” said Conway, who until recently still received Christmas cards from the woman he called “Ms. Van.”
The next year, Conway and a partner established the Green Bay firm that today is the Law Firm of Conway, Olejniczak & Jerry SC. As the firm’s reputation for handling business and transactional law cases grew during the ‘80s, Conway’s stature rose, as well.
In 1985, a colleague urged him to run for president of the State Bar of Wisconsin. The campaign brought Conway in touch with lawyers across the state and, upon winning, made him the youngest bar president and a rare choice from outside Milwaukee or Madison.
His firm’s administrator, Scott Heintz, a 17-year employee, said Conway’s credibility has been instrumental in backing projects at Marquette University Law School and around Brown County, as well as in supporting attorneys around the state.
“The connections he’s made over the years have given the firm a foundation to build on,” Heintz said. “And it’s given so many opportunities for other legal professionals, working here or who’ve moved on.”
Today, the firm has about 20 attorneys and a familial vibe that stems, in part, from staff members’ confidence in Conway as one of its leaders.