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Professor's new book tells business and human rights stories

WVU Law Professor Jena Martin

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Around the world, corporations sometimes put profit before people. Until now, victims’ stories have been omitted from scholarship about business and human rights.

A new book, “When Business Harms Human Rights” (Anthem Press, 2020), solves that problem. Co-edited by Jena Martin, a professor at the West Virginia University College of Law, it is a collection of stories from around the world, including the United States, Brazil and Cameroon.

Martin hopes the book sheds light on some of the atrocities that can happen when businesses pursue profit without regard to their impact on communities or workers. It also provides some guidance to businesses that would like to be good corporate citizens and be profitable at the same time.

"Too often in the academic world we tend to look at phenomena and policy through divorced, seemingly objective lenses,” Martin said. “But we need to remember the why. For me, the why at the heart of what I do has been and will always be humanity.”

WVU Law teaches pilot course on civility

WVU Law Anne Marie Lofaso

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University College of Law recently became the first law school in the country to teach a new civility class developed with the national College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.

The class addressed topics such as reasonable diligence versus offensive tactics, prejudice, rudeness and the positive outcomes of civility. It was part of a summer course on lawyer professional responsibility taught online by Anne Marie Lofaso, the Arthur B. Hodges Professor of Law.

During the two-hour course, students interacted with Beth Walker, a justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia; Richard Griffin, former general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board; and attorney David Borgen with Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho, and president of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.

“I liked the class a lot, especially in regards to our current societal context," said Austin Stewart, a rising second-year student. "It was interesting to hear how accomplished lawyers from both sides of the aisle felt about the topics, and how to maintain professionalism with people with whom you may not agree.”

Sprouse Fellows are working for public defenders this summer

WVU Law 2020 Sprouse Fellows

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—Four West Virginia University College of Law students are working in public defender’s offices around the state this summer.

Andrew Cooper, Jordan Dishong, Jennifer Kenel and Graham Platz are Sprouse Fellows. They each receive a $5,500 stipend to work for 10 weeks in for a state or federal public defender.

“Sprouse Fellowships allow students to provide support to busy public defender offices and their clients while they earn real-world experience under the supervision of a licensed attorney,” said Jennifer Powell, director of the WVU Law Center for Law and Public Service.

Cooper is working for the Fifth Circuit Public Defender Corporation in Spencer, West Virginia. At WVU Law, he is a member of the West Virginia Revitalization Association. Cooper is from Spencer and earned his bachelor’s degree from WVU in 2009. He also holds a master’s degree from WVU in Secondary Education.

AccessLex and West Virginia Bar Foundation set up emergency fund for WVU Law students

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A $25,000 fund has been created to support West Virginia University College of Law students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Law Student Emergency Relief Program is made possible by a gift from AccessLex Institute and facilitated by the West Virginia Bar Foundation. It provides grants to second- and third-year law students experiencing immediate financial distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will help students offset their living expenses as they navigate unforeseen circumstances such as a delay of the bar exam or loss of employment.

“The long-term effects of this pandemic won’t be known for many years,” said Christopher P. Chapman, AccessLex president and chief executive officer, “but we hope that by allaying some of the immediate financial concerns of law students who were impacted so unexpectedly, we can help them stay focused on their educational pursuits. We are happy to offer this support to the law students of West Virginia Univeristy.”

To receive emergency funds, WVU Law students must apply to the West Virginia Bar Foundation by July 3. Students have been notified of the application procedure.

McClure-Demers '91 honored for diversity efforts with LCLD Award

WVU Law 1991 graduate Marilyn McClure-Demers

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Leadership Council on Legal Diversity has presented its Sixth Annual Rick Palmore LCLD Alumni Award to Marilyn McClure-Demers. She is 1991 WVU College of Law graduate and a member of the college's advisory Visiting Committee.

Named for Rick Palmore, whose commitment to diversity in the legal profession led to the founding of LCLD in 2009, this award is the highest honor given by a growing community of more than 2,600 LCLD Alumni. It recognizes the outstanding achievements, commitment, and leadership of the alumni of LCLD’s Fellows and Pathfinder programs who continue to advance LCLD’s mission to create a legal profession that reflects the diversity of the nation it serves. 

WVU Law has been a member of LCLD since 2016. 

McClure-Demers is Vice President, Associate General Counsel of Corporate Litigation & Discovery Management at Nationwide in Columbus, Ohio. She is a strong advocate for diversity in her community in West Virginia and Ohio. She is a former president of the Ohio Women’s Bar Association and a past chair of United Way of Delaware County. She is also a founder of the Women’s Leadership Network.

WVU Law students are helping those in need this summer

WVU Law 2020 PIA Fellow Summer Emily Stern at Disability Rights of WV

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University College of Law students are working throughout the region this summer for legal organizations that help those in need.

The students are Public Interest Advocates Summer Fellows. They work for 10 weeks in paid, full-time positions for organizations that provide legal services to low-income clients, the elderly, children, victims of domestic violence and veterans, among others.

During their fellowships, the students gain experience in child welfare, family law, civil rights, consumer law, disability rights, and land use law. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the fellows will begin working remotely in June.

“Each year, PIA Fellows help increase West Virginia’s access to justice by representing clients   who could not otherwise afford a lawyer,” said Jennifer Powell, director of the Center for Law and Public Service. “These fellowships also allow students to gain practical, real-world legal experience while they provide important support and staffing to busy public interest law offices.”

Perspective on the social media executive order

WVU Law Erin Kelley

On May 28, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order calling for new regulations for social media platforms. Erin Kelley, who teaches Social Media and the Law, offers her perspective.

President Trump’s Executive Order “Preventing Online Censorship” has more political implications than legal ones. It does nothing to change current application of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, but starts building a record that could push Congress to amend the law in the future.

Section 230 is one of the most influential laws shaping the modern internet. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have billions of users creating rich sites of user-generated content. The law’s protections allow for the fullest freedom of expression possible on these private platforms, as the providers are both protected from publisher liability arising from user-generated content, and also protected from civil lawsuits over wrongfully taking down content.

That second part is particularly explored in the Executive Order. 47 U.S. Code § 230(c)(2)(A) permits interactive computer services the ability to in “good faith” remove or restrict access to “material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”

WVU Law Class of 2020 is celebrated online

WVU Law Professor Will Rhee 2020 Commencement Speech

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — COVID-19 canceled WVU Law’s commencement ceremony on May 15, but it did not cancel celebrating the Class of 2020.  

Instead of walking across the stage in the WVU Creative Arts Center’s Lyell B. Clay Concert Theater, each member of the Class of 2020 is being honored on the law school’s website.

This virtual celebration includes photos of the graduates and recognition of their accomplishments. Students also submitted personal photos, favorite law school memories, their inspiration for becoming a lawyer and messages of thanks to those who helped them along the way.

William Rhee, who was selected Professor of the Year by the Class of 2020, delivered the traditional commencement address in a self-recorded video that is posted online.

Gunn '14 named to Black Lawyers "40 under 40" list

WVU Law Jeremy Gunn Class of 2014

PHILADELPHIA — Jeremy Gunn, a 2014 WVU Law graduate, has been selected a Top "40 Under 40" Black Lawyer in Pennsylvania by the National Black Lawyers. 

NBL gives the honor to a select group of attorneys who demonstrate "superior qualifications in leadership skills and performance in their area of legal practice." 

Gunn is an associate at Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Philadelphia, where he focuses on complex commercial litigation for a variety of industries in health, science and technology sectors. 

"I'm thrilled to be selected for this honor," said Gunn. "Shook gives me a platform to help find creative solutions for our clients and provides me with the opportunity to learn from some of the most experienced trial attorneys in the country."

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