Skip to main content


Third-year law student awarded post-graduate fellowship for public interest work

Jack Swiney

Jack Swiney

When third-year law student Jack Swiney went to work at the Kanawha County Public Defender’s office last summer, he wasn’t sure what to expect.

 “I expected it to be quite overwhelming, as generally people in these offices are overworked and underpaid, like firm life without the luxury of the money,” the St. Albans native said.

 Instead, he found himself loving the environment, especially the opportunity to interact with clients and make an impact even before graduation.


The West Virginia University College of Law’s Clinical Law Program was recently awarded a State Opioid Response (SOR) grant of over $117,000 to provide reentry-related legal services to West Virginians recovering from substance use disorder. Primarily focusing on establishing economic stability, the services include bankruptcy, benefits eligibility, driver’s license reinstatement, and expungements. The SOR grant program is funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and supported by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Behavioral Health.

“It’s wonderful to see this investment in our state,” remarked Clinic Director and Associate Professor Nicole McConlogue. “Access to legal resources will help people get their lives back on track and support them in achieving a sustained recovery.”

The Clinical Law Program is partnering with the Clarksburg Mission, a residential recovery facility, as part of its activities under the grant. As a result, the Mission has already hosted two “lawyer of the day” events, during which law students provide 30-minute legal consultations to residents at the Clarksburg Mission. The students, acting under attorney supervision, answer questions about legal processes, review documents, help participants complete legal forms, make referrals, and identify next steps. Both events  have been met with significant demand and were well-received by participants. “Everyone was so glad to have some help,” Professor McConlogue commented. “But we’re just showing up and listening. They’re the ones doing the hard part.”

Shawna Pastuch White, a 2008 graduate of the College of Law, will meet client needs under this new grant in a staff attorney role. Ms. White is an experienced public interest lawyer, having served as a public defender and domestic violence advocate. Most recently, she spent six years as a staff attorney with Disability Rights West Virginia. As staff attorney, Ms. White will organize and facilitate more of these events both at the Mission and statewide, while maintaining a caseload and advising law students who represent reentry clients in the Clinical Law Program.

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia convenes at WVU Law on March 21

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia will convene at the West Virginia University College of Law on March 21 to hear arguments in five cases.

Seating begins at 9 a.m. in the Marlyn E. Lugar Courtroom, with the first case starting at 10 a.m. Admission is free and open to the public. The arguments will be webcast live on the court’s YouTube channel.

The Supreme Court of Appeals is West Virginia’s highest court and the court of last resort. The five Supreme Court Justices hear appeals of decisions over matters decided in the state’s lower courts.

The first cases to be argued fall under the Supreme Court’s Rule 20. These are typically cases of fundamental public importance, constitutional questions, and inconsistency among decisions of lower courts.

The Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic at West Virginia University College of Law Announces Award

The Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic at West Virginia University College of Law (“Land Use Law Clinic” or “Clinic”) announced today that has been awarded $ 2,500 in funding from Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLBank Atlanta), one of the 11 district banks in the Federal Home Loan Bank System.

The award is through the FHLBank Atlanta Heirs’ Property Prevention and Resolution Grant Initiative, announced last August. Funding through this initiative was made available to organizations that submitted pilot initiatives during the Heirs’ Property Prevention and Resolution Funders’ Forum, held on December 2, 2021.

“We are grateful to FHLBank Atlanta for their partnership and for devoting the time, energy, and resources necessary to help address the many issues posed by heirs’ property,” said Jesse J. Richardson, Jr., a land use attorney with the clinic. “Heirs’ property has a significant negative impact across West Virginia and this award will help the Clinic to start to build a foundation to educate on this issue.”

Kirk Malmberg, President and Chief Executive Officer of FHLBank Atlanta, congratulated the Land Use Law Clinic on being selected for an award. “We are pleased to offer this award and we commend the Clinic for working to solve and prevent issues associated with heirs’ property,” said Malmberg.

West Virginia Innocence Project, housed at WVU College of Law, awarded DOJ funding to investigate wrongful convictions

WVU Law Innocence project


MORGANTOWN, WV —The West Virginia Innocence Project, housed at the West Virginia University College of Law, is one of 13 organizations nationwide selected by the United States Department of Justice to participate in its Upholding the Rule of Law and Preventing Wrongful Convictions Program. WVIP will receive $359,208 to bolster its continuing efforts to investigate and challenge wrongful convictions in the Mountain State.


WVU law professor explores how West Virginia is missing the clean energy revolution

WVU law professor James Van Nostrand and his book's cover

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia is caught in a coal trap that’s causing it to miss the clean energy revolution. As a result, the state faces substantial economic obstacles and serious environmental and public health concerns.

That’s the case made in a new book by James Van Nostrand, a professor of law and the director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development at West Virginia University.

"The Coal Trap: How West Virginia Was Left Behind in the Clean Energy Revolution" (Cambridge University Press, 2022) focuses on the years between 2009 and 2019.

Van Nostrand argues that is when the state’s politicians placed the interests of the coal industry above the economic and environmental health of the state and the planet. 

WVU professor marks the 10th anniversary of his groundbreaking Gandhi biography

WVU law professor Charles DiSalvo

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A decade ago, West Virginia University law professor Charles DiSalvo published the first in-depth biography of Mohandas Gandhi’s life as an attorney.

“The Man Before the Mahatma: M.K. Gandhi, Attorney at Law” was released in 2012 by Random House in India and a year later by the University of California Press in the rest of the world. 

“I continue to be humbled by the acceptance that the book has received,” said DiSalvo, the Woodrow A. Potesta Professor of Law and a member of the WVU faculty since 1979. 

DiSalvo’s work on “The Man Before the Mahatma” required that he gain access to, among many other sources, over 10,000 issues of newspapers in archives in India and South Africa.  He was assisted by a number of research assistants, including WVU law and history students, as well as other Gandhi scholars in India, Australia, Britain and Africa.

Social justice gifts empower underrepresented WVU students

Ellen Archibald

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University students from underrepresented groups are gaining valuable experience in social justice work thanks to generous alumni support.

Ellen Archibald, of Minneapolis, formerly an attorney in Charleston, graduated from the WVU College of Law in 1989. She has given over $200,000 to establish two social justice awards at WVU — one for students at the College of Law and one for students enrolled in School of Social Work programs at the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

For the School of Social Work award, preference goes to minority students – specifically Black, Indigenous and people of color – who are completing a field placement or internship focused on social justice. Deana Morrow, director of the School of Social Work, said Archibald’s gift has provided financial support to students completing internships in behavioral health, immigrant and refugee child care, legal justice, prison re-entry and trauma-informed care settings.

Recipients have received $10,000 to $15,000 each to assist with travel costs and living expenses associated with their internships, which are required to obtain a social work license.

WVU College of Law student spent her summer working for children

WVU Law student Olivia Lee

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A West Virginia University law student spent her summer advocating for children in the justice system.

“Children are the most resilient members of society,” said Olivia Lee, a third-year student at the WVU College of Law. “People often forget that they are more than the worst thing that has happened to them.”

Lee worked on 10 to 15 cases in Charleston, West Virginia, for ChildLaw Services. It is the only non-profit law firm in the Mountain State that represents children exclusively, no matter the circumstance. Most of Lee's work involved abuse and neglect cases stemming from the opioid epidemic. 

“I met with my clients to evaluate their needs versus their wants,” she said. “I was able to argue on behalf of my clients in Circuit Court, write appeals, and actually get to know my clients.”

WVU LAW Facebook WVU LAW Twitter WVU LAW Instagram WVU LAW LinkedIn WVU LAW Youtube Channel