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Hicks awarded WVU College of Law Justitia Officium

WVU Law 2021 Justitia Officium Elliot Hicks

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Trailblazing attorney Elliot G. Hicks is the recipient of the 2021 Justitia Officium Award from the West Virginia University 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. Hicks received his award at WVU Law’s Commencement in Milan Puskar Stadium on May 16. 

Hicks was inspired to become an attorney by the lawyers who led the Civil Rights Movement. He spent his first two years of college at Washington and Lee University, where he was the first African American elected to the Executive Committee of the Student Body. He later transferred to West Virginia University, earning his B.A. in 1978 and his J.D. in 1981. 

After three years of solo practice, Hicks joined Kay Casto & Chaney in 1984, becoming only the second lawyer of color in West Virginia to be hired by a large firm. Fourteen years later, he became the first African American President of the West Virginia State Bar. 

WVU College of Law clinic earns national recognition

WVU Law Professor Alison Peck

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A law clinic at West Virginia University has earned an Honorable Mention Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project from the Clinical Legal Education Association.

CLEA recently presented the award to the Immigration Law Clinic at the WVU College of Law for its efforts to represent and empower the state’s underserved immigrant population. In West Virginia, there is only one full-time immigration lawyer for a statewide community of 30,000 foreign-born residents and their families.

“This recognition by the Clinical Legal Education Association highlights the important role that the WVU Immigration Law Clinic plays in providing and expanding legal services to immigrants in our state,” said law professor Alison Peck, director of the clinic.

The Immigration Law Clinic serves the state’s immigrant community through legal practice, community education and resources, and advocacy. The clinic is also working to build a local immigration bar from by facilitating attorney mentorship, developing a continuing legal education program and recruiting law students who will commit to local immigration practice. 

These 2021 graduates are headed to federal clerkships

WVU Law 2021 Five Federal Clerks


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Five 2021 graduates of the  West Virginia University  College of Law are headed to prestigious year-long positions in the federal court system.

As federal law clerks, Tyler Barton, Denali Hedrick, Blake Humphrey, Nick Gutmann and Lauren Trumble will gain an intimate perspective on the inner workings of the courts while sharpening vital career-defining skills.

“A clerkship is an unparalleled learning experience, providing the opportunity to hone research and writing skills on various, weighty matters while guided by respected, seasoned, and accomplished legal professionals,” said law professor  Joshua Weishart. “Because they are so formative, provide such a unique perspective, and are relatively few in number, federal clerkships are highly coveted — a prized credential sought by prospective employers — which can grant law clerks access to prestigious networks and relationships that can influence the trajectory of their legal careers.”

WVU Law programs named among the best in the country

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University College of Law is among the top schools in the country for practical training and environmental law, according to preLaw Magazine.

The national publication ranks WVU Law No. 27 in the country for practical training and gives the College a grade of A in environmental/natural resources law.

For practical training, preLaw considered WVU Law’s opportunities in clinics, externships, simulation courses, pro bono work and moot court. For environmental law, the magazine looked at the range of relevant courses and programs, including the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development.

The Best Laws Schools for Practical Training and the Top Law Schools for Environmental/Natural Resources Law appear in the current issue of  preLaw Magazine. 

Leadmon is splitting summer jobs between South Carolina and West Virginia

WVU Law student Caroline Leadmon

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University College of Law student Caroline Leadmon is spending her summer working in two very different legal settings: a patent law firm and a federal judge’s chambers.

Leadmon, a rising 2L, is one of three WVU Law students opting for a “split summer” work experience in 2021. The others are Ryaan Ibtisam and Karli Celestin.

For eight weeks, Leadmon will be a summer associate for the firm Dority & Manning in Greenville, South Carolina. Then, she will return to the Mountain State to spend a month as an intern for Senior Judge Irene Keeley in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia in Clarksburg.

“I am interested in a career as a patent attorney because I have a technical background, and I am patent-bar eligible. I applied to Dority & Manning after reviewing the work they did with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies,” said Leadmon. “However, part of me wanted a more broad, comprehensive summer legal experience. I applied to intern with Judge Keeley after hearing from past interns what a great educational experience being in chambers provides. I am so grateful that both offices were flexible and allowed me to split my summer.”

Ibtisam is splitting his summer work experience three ways

WVU Law student Ryaan Ibtisam

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Ryaan Ibtisam is spending his first law school summer working with three national legal and financial institutions.

“I do not like to waste time,” said the West Virginia University College of Law student. “I am very passionate about the law and I wanted to learn as much as I could by spending every second of my summer doing something law-related.”

Ibtisam, a rising 2L, is one of three WVU Law students opting for a “split summer” work experience in 2021. The others are Caroline Leadmon and Karli Celestin.

Ibtisam starts his summer work experience in mid-May, traveling between the Jackson Kelly offices in Morgantown, Charleston and Pittsburgh. Afterward, he will work remotely for seven weeks for the New York office of Riemer and Braunstein, a boutique finance and full-service law firm that represents international clients. Then, Ibtisam will work in person for three weeks at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh.

Moore ’12 Named West Virginia Young Lawyer of the Year

WVU Law 2012 Graduate Michael J. Moore of Steptoe & Johnson

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. —  Attorney Michael J. Moore has been named the Young Lawyer of the Year by the Young Lawyer Section of the West Virginia State Bar.  

Moore is 2012 graduate of the West Virginia University College of Law. He has been practicing labor and employment law at Steptoe & Johnson since 2015. 

Moore advises clients in the courtroom and at the negotiating table in labor and employment disputes. He counsels clients on unionization efforts and defends them before administrative bodies including the National Labor Relations Board. He has successfully argued before the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

Moore is an active volunteer in his community, serving in leadership positions with the United Way of Harrison and Doddridge Counties and with the Salvation Army of Clarksburg. He provides pro bono legal services to the Salvation Army while helping to raise funds for the organization’s most crucial programs. He is also a member of the Harrison County Student Achievement Board, which awards scholarships to college-bound high school seniors.

WVU College of Law professor takes on immigration courts in new book

WVU Law Professor Alison Peck

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The fundamental flaw of the U.S. immigration courts is that they are part of the nation’s top law enforcement department.

That is the argument made by Alison Peck, a West Virginia University College of Law professor, in a new book that's out in May.

In The Accidental History of the U.S. Immigration Courts: War, Fear, and the Roots of Dysfunction (University of California Press, 2021), Peck discusses how immigration courts became part of the U.S. Department of Justice, which is in the executive branch of government.

To create a more impartial system, Peck proposes that immigration courts become independent. She 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 offers a perspective on how to evaluate reform efforts.  

Celestin named a Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Scholar

WVU Law student Karli Celestin

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Karli Celestin, a West Virginia University College of Law student, has been named a 1L Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Scholar.

The 1L LCLD Scholars Program is designed to strengthen the legal pipeline by expanding the number of opportunities for diverse first-year law students.

As an LCLD Scholar, Celestin will work 10 weeks this summer at two companies in the Pittsburgh area. The opportunity will expose her to various legal issues while building her professional network. 

Celestin will first work in-person at the international law firm of McGuireWoods, and then she will work virtually with lawyers for FedEx Ground.

Granfield '22 wins the Baker Cup

WVU Law 2021 Baker Cup final at WV Supreme Court

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Two West Virginia University College of Law students recently argued at the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

Brooke Alexander and Dan Granfield were finalists in the College's George C. Baker Cup Moot Court Competition on March 23. 

They had traveled to the Supreme Court in Charleston, West Virginia, due to the pandemic. Traditionally, the final round of the Baker Cup is argued before the Justices in the Marlyn E. Lugar Courtroom at WVU Law.

Alexander and Granfield argued whether an ordinance against female toplessness violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. In the end, the Justices awarded the Baker Cup trophy to Granfield, who argued to uphold the ordinance.

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