CJ Reid: Career-building summers lead to a pro bono record

On his way to securing a federal clerkship, CJ Reid '17 did something remarkable.

WVU Law CJ Reid Class of 2017

CJ Reid graduated from WVU Law in May and his main focus this summer is preparing for — and passing — the bar exam.  

Like dedicated law students everywhere, Reid spent his last two law school summers gaining valuable work experience that would give his career a boost.

Along the way, though, Reid did something remarkable. He amassed an amazing 840 hours of pro bono legal service — more than any WVU Law student has ever done.

A student earning 200 pro bono hours while in law school is outstanding, according to Jennifer Powell, director of WVU Law’s Center for Law and Public Service.

“We encourage our law students to do pro bono work as part of our public service mission, but what CJ did is truly amazing. He rewrote the record books,” said Powell.

Reid earned all of his pro bono hours in career-building summer jobs in the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of West Virginia in Wheeling.

“I want to be an Assistant United States Attorney at the federal level or an Assistant Prosecutor at the state or local level one day. Working there gave me great insight into how the U.S. Attorney's Office works, and it was a great opportunity to network with people in the field,” he said.

In the summer of his 1L year, Reid worked for Betsy Jividen, currently Acting United States Attorney, on civil cases and prisoner reentry issues. Jividen is a 1980 graduate of WVU Law.

Working with Jividen, Reid visited the federal prisons in the Northern District and met with inmates to discuss ways to help them prepare for reentry into society.

“Getting to meet with and talk to inmates was such a meaningful experience, because it helped me realize most of them are just people who made mistakes. Many of them are not at all the people they were when they committed the crimes that put them in prison,” Reid said. “I wish more law students, especially ones thinking about going into prosecution, would have the experience I had meeting these inmates. I think it would provide them with a much different perspective.”

Reid returned to the U.S. Attorney's Office the summer after his 2L year to do work that aligned more with his career goals. This time, he worked on criminal cases under the supervision of Randy Bernard, Criminal Division Chief.

“I think that I’m absolutely more prepared to be a practicing attorney because of the experience I had at the U.S. Attorney's Office,” said Reid. “My work helped me gain experience towards the job I want and get a feel for what that job entails, and it cemented the fact that it is the career path I want to pursue.”

While work in legal clinics or public defender's offices might first come to mind when people think of pro bono work, Reid strives to promote prosecution as an important field of public interest law.

“Prosecutors play a very important role in our justice system, and they are good people who are seeking justice for their community,” he said. “Working in the field of prosecution is not often seen as public interest work, but I think it should be.”

Reid’s pro bono work and other law school experiences have helped him secure a prestigious position in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia in Wheeling. For the next two years, he will clerk for the Honorable John Preston Bailey. It’s a valuable step in achieving his dream law career.

Reid is from Fredericksburg, Virginia. He earned his bachelor’s degree in American Legal Studies with a minor in Terrorism Studies from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Prior to law school, Reid served in the U.S. Army as a Military Police officer for five and a half years, with one tour in Afghanistan.

During his final year at WVU Law, Reid was Senior Managing Editor for Volume 119 of the West Virginia Law Review and a student attorney in the Veterans Advocacy Clinic.

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