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WVU Law Alumni Serving the State and its People

William Shultz, WVU Law 2023 Graduate

West Virginia University College of Law continues to prepare graduates to provide legal services in communities throughout the state. 

For the Class of 2023, WVU Law reported 90 graduates with full employment – full-time, long-term work in a Bar Pass Required or J.D. Advantage position. That’s a rate of more than 87 percent. 

In fact, 62 percent of these graduates stayed in West Virginia. The biggest share of graduates (24.3 percent) is employed at firms that employ up to 10 attorneys only. 

"WVU Law is thankful for the investment the legal community of West Virginia makes in hiring our graduates as they begin the next steps in their careers as attorneys,” said Lauren McCartney, WVU Law’s Director of the Meredith Center for Career Services and Professional Development

WVU Law’s Amy Cyphert Discusses Her Love for West Virginia, Law Students and AI Law

Morgantown, West Virginia native and Lecturer in Law at West Virginia University’s College of Law Amy Cyphert chose a career in law because she was inspired by people who made a difference in their communities. 

“I was drawn to law for many reasons, including that I was inspired by people who made a difference in their communities through impact litigation,” said Cyphert. “I also appreciated that so many lawyers were leaders, including as elected representatives. I also really liked the logic of law, and the way you could use the persuasive writing techniques I learned as an undergraduate to help accomplish justice for your clients.” 

Cyphert’s law career took her from Morgantown to Manhattan. 

“After clerking for a judge in Manhattan, I practiced law there for several years,” she said. “I knew I wanted to get home to Morgantown, where I have a large extended family I’m very close with. A position opened up in WVU’s Honors College just as I was thinking about next steps. It was an unexpected path and one that many of my Big Law colleagues were confused by, but I have never looked back. Within a couple of years of settling in at WVU, I began teaching as an adjunct at the College of Law and then eventually had a formal joint appointment between Law and Honors.” 

Mary Claire Davis Finds Teaching Law an Opportunity to Have a Positive Influence in Public Service

Originally from Richwood, West Virginia, Mary Claire Davis, Teaching Associate Professor at the West Virginia University College of Law, admits she didn’t always want to be a lawyer but knew she wanted to stay in her home state and serve its people. 

Davis comes from a family of public servants – her mother and sister have served as West Virginia public school teachers; her father has been a prosecutor, judge, and mayor; and her grandfather was a delegate in the West Virginia Legislature, county sheriff, and public school teacher.

“At the time I applied to law school, I was seeking a new personal and professional challenge,” said Davis. “Law seemed to be a good fit. I enjoyed reading and writing, and I knew you did a lot of both in law school.” However, she quickly realized that earning a law degree would present more ways to carry on her family’s long history and tradition of service.

After earning her J.D. from WVU Law in 2008, Davis served as a judicial law clerk for twelve years, working for three federal judges at both the trial court and appellate court levels.

WVU College of Law Career Services Staff Presents Session at National Professional Conference

Brad Grimes, Esq., Assistant Director for West Virginia University College of Law’s Meredith Center for Career Services and Professional Development, recently had the privilege of attending and speaking at the National Association for Law Placement’s (NALP) 2024 Annual Education Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. That conference is the single largest, most comprehensive, and most well-respected educational program in the legal placement profession, covering all areas of the profession from recruiting and career counseling to professional development, law student PD, diversity management, and more.

The conference, which ran from April 16-19, 2024, was NALP’s largest to date, with over 1,800 attendees from the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. The educational content offered included much to choose from — over 90 concurrent sessions presented by law school and law firm placement professionals, along with two plenary sessions.

Brad presented one of those concurrent sessions, a well-received program titled LGBTQ+ Safe Zone Training for Legal Professionals. This training instructed participants on contemporary LGBTQ+ core vocabulary, pronouns and appropriate usage, and inclusive language. It also discussed gender diversity as it relates to gender identity and expression and non-binary identities. The session examined some of the obstacles and challenges faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community, historically and presently, along with a discussion of intersectionality and its relationship to the marginalization of sexual and gender minorities. The session’s overall focus was exploring ways that the law placement professionals can work toward becoming better LGBTQ+ allies for their law students and law firm colleagues.

"I am very honored to have had my presentation proposal accepted by NALP, and to be able to represent WVU College of Law’s Career Services and Professional Development office on a national stage," said Grimes. 

Twelve WVU Law Graduates Accepted to Federal, State Clerkships

WVU Law Students Graduating and Taking a Clerkship

Twelve graduates of the West Virginia University College of Law Class of 2024 – approximately 12 percent of the class – have been accepted to prestigious clerkships with state and federal judges across the country. Of these, nine were awarded federal clerkships, constituting nearly nine percent of the graduating class. This statistic places WVU Law among the top law schools in the country for federal clerkship placement.

WVU Law Students Graduating and Taking a Clerkship

Two Venerable Female Attorneys to be Honored Posthumously by College of Law

Two outstanding female attorneys who passed away in 2023 will be recognized posthumously at the College of Law’s graduation ceremony on May 10. Longtime public interest lawyer Cathy “Cat” McConnell and Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Joanna Tabit will receive the 2024 College of Law Justitia Officium Awards. Established in 1978 to mark the 100th anniversary of the College of Law, the Justitia Officium is the highest honor bestowed by the law faculty in recognition of outstanding contributions and service to the legal profession.  Family members will accept the awards on behalf of the late attorneys. 

Cathy "Cat" McConnell

Cat McConnell served as the Executive Director of West Virginia Senior Legal Aid organization for over 25 years. She was a 1995 graduate of the WVU College of Law and a beloved figure in the West Virginia public interest community. She was a fierce advocate for disability rights and environmental justice who mentored many aspiring public interest attorneys. 

According to her daughter, Olivia, Cat was easily identified by the long flowing hair that she hadn't cut in decades, a wardrobe full of colorful tie dyes, and her beautiful singing voice. 

"Coming Home": Professor Annie Eisenberg discusses returning to Morgantown and her favorite teaching moments

Originally from Ithaca, NY, West Virginia University College of Law Professor and Research Director for the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development Annie Eisenberg was first interested in pursuing law after being advised that a law degree comes with power for making change in the world. 

She was also interested in the language of law. 

“I’m interested in language and how lawyers can use words to encourage different audiences to think about things differently, whether in the courtroom, as advocates or scholars, or wearing other hats,” said Eisenberg.

So, how did someone from the middle of the Finger Lakes make it to Morgantown, West Virginia? 

Two U.S. senators, business and law leaders, philanthropists, television writer and others to join graduates for WVU Commencement ceremonies

Eight honorary degrees will be awarded during WVU Commencement Weekend May 10-12 at the Coliseum. (WVU Photo/David Malecki)

Thousands of West Virginia University graduates will celebrate their successes Commencement Weekend May 10-12 alongside eight honorary degree recipients and two speakers during nine ceremonies at the Coliseum.

Eight honorary degrees will be awarded during WVU Commencement Weekend May 10-12 at the Coliseum. (WVU Photo/David Malecki)

“It is important for our graduates to see and hear from those who have successfully followed their own paths of purpose,” President Gordon Gee said. “Our esteemed honorary degree recipients and speakers, representing fields from politics to performance to philanthropy and more, are making the world a better place. Our hope is our graduates can find inspiration as they take important steps in their own lives.”

See the full Commencement Weekend schedule.

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