A native of Hundred, W. Va., Moore graduated from Fairmont State University with bachelor’s degrees in accounting and business administration. He chose to pursue a career in the law because it would allow him to use his problem-solving skills to help people.
“I think there is a high level of appreciation and connection between an attorney and his client because the attorney is there to advocate on the client’s behalf,” he said.
As student body president his junior and senior years in college, Moore had a lot of public speaking opportunities. He realized when he got to law school that he missed that aspect of his life.
When he found out that WVU Law offered first-year students a chance to compete in the 1L Lugar Cup, the annual in-house trial competition, he decided to give it a shot. He was teamed up with classmate Sean Thomas, and together they began preparing for their first-ever mock trial in front of a judge.
The 1L Lugar Cup is one of two annual events organized by the Marlyn E. Lugar Trial Association, a student organization at WVU Law that focuses on building skills in trial advocacy. Members compete in mock trial competitions at the College and around the country. They also mentor first-year competitors as they gain confidence in the courtroom.
Moore and Thomas were not familiar with courtroom procedure going into the competition, but under the mentorship of a 3L, Wayne Hancock ’17, they steadily improved and ultimately won the 1L Lugar Cup.
“We weren’t that good at trial work yet, but we were good enough to be the winners of that competition,” Moore recalled. “And sometime after the first five minutes of the first round, I realized how exciting and exhilarating it all was to me. Being in the courtroom was great. I loved everything that went into litigation and defense work. And so that was the start of it all.”
After winning the 1L Lugar Cup, Moore tried out for the Moot Court Board to continue honing his litigation skills. The Moot Court Board focuses on appellate arguments, and members compete in various in-house, intercollegiate, national and international competitions while earning academic credit.
Moore argued his final memo from the first-year Legal Reasoning, Research and Writing course in front of a panel of student-judges and was admitted onto the Moot Court Board before his 2L year.
With two successful courtroom experiences under his belt during his first year of law school, Moore was fully committed to becoming a litigation attorney.
He was selected to be on the Steptoe & Johnson traveling moot court team in his 2L year and he has competed in Miami and Washington, DC. The team was coached by attorneys from Steptoe & Johnson PLLC.
One of Moore’s moot court teammates, Allyson Chandler, became his opponent for the prestigious George C. Baker Cup in 2018. The annual Baker Cup competition is required for 2Ls participating in moot court, as well as for any student hoping to be invited onto WVU Law’s National Moot Court Team. The final round of the Baker Cup is judged by the justices of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.
“My initial goal in the Baker Cup was to make the top six because I ultimately wanted to make it onto the National Moot Court Team,” Moore explained. “But once I made the top six, I really wanted to give it my all and advance as far as possible.”
Moore advanced all the way to the final round and argued against Chandler, his teammate, classmate and good friend.
“Allyson was the winner that time,” Moore said with a smile. “She deserved it.”
In his third year at WVU Law, Moore has retired from moot court competitions. But he’s been applying the skills he developed as a student-attorney in the Litigation and Advocacy (General Practice) Law Clinic.
Under the supervision of Professor Marjorie McDiarmid, student-attorneys in the law clinic work on family law, public benefits, property issues, bankruptcy and other cases of educational value. During his time in the clinic, Moore has helped assist clients with Social Security disability applications as well as with civil lawsuits related to property damage, contract disputes and protective orders.
“While the experience of doing mock trials and moot arguments was enjoyable and a crucial part of my legal education, practicing in the clinic with real clients, with real issues, in a real court of law has really given me a jumpstart in my career,” Moore explained. “My clinic partner and I have a case right now that may be tried before we graduate, so I will get to represent a real person, and help that person using the skills that I’ve acquired since I started in Lugar my 1L year.”
Moore is also President of the Marlyn E. Lugar Trial Association. Just as Wayne Hancock helped him and Sean Thomas navigate their first experience in the courtroom, Moore has been coaching a team of 1L students as they prepare for their 1L Lugar Cup Competition.
“It’s come full circle now,” he said. “It all started with me as a 1L being mentored and coached by upperclassmen. Now I am the coach of two 1Ls, and hopefully in a couple of years they will look back on all they learned throughout their moot court career and be happy with how far they’ve come.”
As a first-generation law student, Moore sought out learning experiences and mentoring from those more familiar with the legal field. In addition to the network he gained through Moot Court Board and Lugar Trial Association, he watched and learned from his classmates who have family members who are attorneys.
“There is no one in my family who has been an attorney, so there was nobody that I could look up to as I began my law school career. And I didn’t really know what to do,” Moore explained. “I looked for people I could watch and learn from, and I found people I trusted. They were instrumental in helping me throughout my entire time at law school.”
One person Moore sought advice and insight from was his friend Eric Hayhurst ‘09, founder of Hayhurst Law, PLLC in Morgantown.
When it was time for Moore to apply for a summer job after his 1L year, Hayhurst talked to him about the merits of different law firms in the area. That helped Moore find several firms that most aligned with his legal interests and values — among them was Steptoe & Johnson.
Moore did an on-campus interview with the firm and got a summer position in the Morgantown office. Steptoe & Johnson gave him another position the following summer.
“The summer after my 2L year, Steptoe & Johnson allowed me to play a larger role in their work, and I felt like I was a real part of the legal process with the partners and upper-level associates,” he said.
On the Monday after his second summer job with Steptoe & Johnson ended, the firm called Moore and offered him a full-time position after graduation. He is scheduled to start work as a litigation associate in the firm’s Morgantown office in September after he passes the West Virginia Bar.
“They said they would love to have me and that my offer letter was in my inbox,” Moore said. “I had it signed and sent back to them within seven minutes. It felt great.”
Mitch Moore is the 2018-19 Vice Chief Justice of the Moot Court Board, President of the Marlyn E. Lugar Trial Association, a Senior Editor of Volume 121 of the West Virginia Law Review, and a student attorney in the Litigation and Advocacy (General Practice) Law Clinic. In addition to his summer externships at Steptoe & Johnson, he completed an externship in spring 2018 with the WVU Office of General Counsel.
Moore holds bachelor’s degrees from Fairmont State University in Accounting and Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. He is set to graduate from WVU Law in May 2019.