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1L Novak wins BLSA award in honor of Justice Cleckley

WVU Law student Kinsey Novak

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Incoming student Kinsey Novak is the recipient of a $1500 book stipend from the Black Law Students Association at the West Virginia University College of Law.

Applicants for the stipend submitted an essay discussing a court opinion written by the late Franklin D. Cleckley, the first African-American justice on the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. 

Cleckley, a longtime WVU law professor, served on the state’s Supreme Court from 1994 to 1996 and authored more than 100 majority opinions. He passed away in August 2017.

Novak, who begins her 1L year at WVU Law this month, won for her essay examining Cleckley’s 1996 decision in State ex rel. Suriano v. Gaughan (198 W. Va. 339, 480 S.E.2d 548).

Summer externs are gaining valuable work experience

WVU Law 2021 Summer Externs

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. —  A group of WVU Law students has spent their summer working alongside practicing attorneys and judges, gaining real-world legal training.

The summer externship course at WVU Law allows law students to earn credit for 10 weeks of work in a variety of legal settings across the state. As they provide support to the legal offices in which they work, students apply what they learn in the classroom to hone valuable lawyering skills. 

“Externships are an excellent way for students to work on real cases and get relevant legal training in a government, judicial or public interest setting,” said Jennifer Powell, externship course instructor and director of the Center for Law and Public Service. “Students say their legal research and writing skills improve and that they get a chance to build their professional networks.”

The WVU Law summer 2021 externs are:

Peggy Browning Fellow working at Women's Law Project

WVU Law student Aliah Hasan

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A West Virginia University College of Law student is working in Pittsburgh this summer helping defend and advance the rights of women, girls and LGBTQ+ people in Pennsylvania and beyond.

Aliah Hasan, a rising 3L, is a legal intern at the Women's Law Project as a recipient of a Peggy Browning Fellowship. The highly competitive national fellowship provides law students with unique, diverse and challenging work experiences fighting for social and economic justice.

Peggy Browning Fellows are distinguished students who excel in law school and have demonstrated a commitment to workers’ rights through their previous educational, work, volunteer and personal experiences. This year, the fellowship received almost 700 applications for about 80 positions nationwide.

Hasan grew up watching her mother work multiple low-wage retail jobs with little time to think about “justice.” As a child of immigrants, Hasan aspires to use her law degree to aid marginalized people in understanding and exercising their rights. Before law school, Hasan worked at the International Institute of Buffalo, where she advocated for foreign-born survivors of domestic violence and forced labor.

Sprouse Fellows are helping access to justice

WVU Law student Ashley Brash and Rayann Yocum

Two West Virginia University College of Law students are helping increase access to justice for clients in need while adding valuable work experience to their credentials.

As recipients of WVU Law’s Sprouse Fellowship, rising third-year students Ashley Brash and Rayann Yocum are working for 10 weeks this summer in public defender offices.

The Sprouse Fellowship is a competitive opportunity that allows students to obtain their Rule 10 law practice certifications and appear in court under the supervision of a licensed attorney. Recipients receive a $5,500 stipend.

“These fellowships provide important support and staffing to busy public defender offices and their clients while giving WVU Law students practical, hands-on learning experiences,” said Jennifer Powell, director of the Center for Law and Public Service.

Vilasuso working for ChildLaw Services as Charon Fellow

WVU Law student Zoey Vilasuso

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A rising third-year student at the West Virginia University College of Law is spending her summer helping give the state’s children a stronger voice in the justice system.

Zoey Vilasuso is working in the Princeton, West Virginia, office of ChildLaw Services as the 2021 recipient of the Regina Charon Fellowship. The fellowship is paying Vilasuso a stipend of $5500 for 10 weeks of valuable work experience.

ChildLaw is the only non-profit law firm in the Mountain State that represents children exclusively. Its mission is to advocate for the well-being of children through legal representation, policy development, and coordinated planning.

“ChildLaw Services was my first choice for this fellowship because I have always been drawn towards working with kids,” Vilasuso said. “I worked full-time at a daycare in Morgantown before going to law school, and my mom is a middle school teacher in Morgantown.” 

WVU Law summer fellows are helping those in need

WVU Law student Sophia Runion

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Continuing a long-running tradition, law students at West Virginia University are spending this summer helping those in need.

More than a dozen WVU College of Law students are working as Public Interest Advocates Summer Fellows. They are helping at regional organizations that provide legal services to low-income clients, the elderly, children, victims of domestic violence, veterans and others. The program began in 1988.

Being a PIA Summer Fellow gives these students valuable legal work experience in areas such as children’s advocacy, civil rights, consumer matters, disability rights, and land use and conservation. At the same time, they are increasing access to justice for many people who cannot afford a lawyer.

“PIA Fellowships allow students to gain practical, real-world legal experience while they provide important support and staffing in busy public interest law offices,” said Jennifer Powell, director of the Center for Law and Public Service. “The fellowships have also inspired many students to provide pro bono legal services once they become lawyers and have launched hundreds of students’ careers in public interest law.”

Trychta wins national award for academic support

WVU Law Teaching Professor Kirsha Trychta

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Kirsha Trychta, a teaching professor at the West Virginia University College of Law, has been recognized by a national organization for helping law students succeed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trychta, who directs the WVU Law Academic Excellence Center, recently received the 2021 Impact Award from the Association of Academic Support Educators. She was recognized for her approach to teaching students and connecting AASE members in the face of COVID-19.

“The last year has been extraordinarily challenging for the law school academic support community,” said Trychta. “To be individually recognized as having a substantial impact on the academic support profession during any year, let alone this year, is humbling and exceptionally meaningful. I am truly honored.”

Trychta is chair of the AASE Online Presence Committee. The national organization is made up of academic success professionals who work to make legal education accessible to all students. Members collaborate to develop and implement research-based teaching methods and design programs that help students succeed in law school, on the bar exam and in their legal careers.

Professor Friedberg discusses unseating Netanyahu

WVU Law Jim Friedberg

Jim Friedberg, the Hale J. and Roscoe P. Poston Professor of Law at WVU, discusses the political situation in Israel that culminated on June 2, 2021, with the formation of an unlikely coalition to remove Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Friedberg's expertise includes international law.

McClure-Demers ’91 named to board of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights

WVU Law McClure-Demers

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Marilyn McClure-Demers, a 1991 West Virginia University College of Law graduate, has been named to the Board of Directors of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

“As a leader in the private bar and corporate America committed to this work throughout my career, it’s truly my honor to join the board at this time in our country to help advance the mission of the Lawyers’ Committee — working to eliminate racial discrimination and advance social justice, " McClure-Demers said. “I challenge each of us to take an active role in this work and to make a difference every day.”   

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes.

McClure-Demers is vice president and associate general counsel at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, a fortune 100 financial services company located in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to her law degree from WVU, she earned a B.A. in Political Science from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences in 1988.

Peck wins law faculty scholarship award

WVU Law Professor Alison Peck

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Professor Alison Peck is the winner of this year’s Significant Scholarship Award at the West Virginia University College of Law

Peck won for her recent book, "The Accidental History of the U.S. Immigration Courts: War, Fear, and the Roots of Dysfunction," published earlier this year by the University of California Press.

In her book, Peck uses unstudied legal decisions from the Franklin Roosevelt and George W. Bush administrations to outline humanitarian crises that led to the modern immigration court system. She also argues that the fundamental flaw of the immigration courts is that they are under the U.S. Department of Justice — and she proposes that the courts become independent.

WVU Law’s Significant Scholarship Award is presented annually by the faculty to a fellow professor whose written work addresses an important public issue while demonstrating thorough research and clear and concise writing.

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