MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA — WVU Law awarded degrees to the Class of 2018 at Commencement on May 11 at the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre at the WVU Creative Arts Center.
“You have mastered the academic challenges of law school. And now you take your rightful place in the world as lawyers fighting for justice. That is a noble cause and you should be proud; we are certainly proud of you,” Gregory Bowman, dean of the College of Law, told the graduates.
Jennifer Oliva, associate professor of law and public health, delivered the Commencement address. She was selected Professor of the Year by the Class of the 2018.
Oliva, director of the Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic, praised the graduates for their accomplishments in and out of the classroom, including providing much-need legal services to West Virginians.
“What has impressed me and inspired me most about this class and makes me so, so proud to have the privilege to stand here before them today has been their group solidarity; the courage of their collective convictions and willingness to speak uncomfortable truths; their care and compassion for one other; their insistence that all voices matter; their willingness to challenge convention; and their persistent push to address and remedy injustice anywhere and everywhere,” said Oliva.
E.Gordon Gee, president of West Virginia University and former dean of WVU Law, urged the Class of 2018 to put their Mountaineer values to work.
“Having acquired the skills to think clearly and advocate effectively, you can act as a voice to the voiceless, a voice of reason in our public discourse,” he said. “Make service to others not just an obligation, but your passion. Nurture the curiosity that enables you to visualize new ideas, try new solutions, and blaze new paths.”
In addition to the graduating class, the College of Law recognized the recipients of the 2018 Justitia Officium Award. The highest honor bestowed by the faculty, the award is given for outstanding contributions and service to the legal profession.
The 2018 Justitia Officium recipients are Judge Michael J. Aloi ’83 and attorney Bruce Stanley ’81.
Aloi is the United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of West Virginia in Clarksburg. As an attorney, he mediated over 2,500 cases and is the only lawyer in West Virginia selected to be a Fellow of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators.
As a Circuit Court judge, Judge Aloi established the first Drug Court in Marion County and he now serves as the Drug Court Judge in Clarksburg. He has also has established a diversion program for veterans in small claims court.
Aloi is currently a board member on the West Virginia Judicial and Lawyer Assistance Program and a Member of the Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being.
Stanley is the founding partner of Stanley & Schmitt, a personal injury, construction law, and commercial litigation firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Before opening his own practice in 2014, Stanley was a longtime partner of international law firm Reed Smith. There, he litigated several cases involving Massey Energy, formerly the largest coal company in Appalachia.
In Caperton v. Massey, Stanley represented Hugh Caperton in a 14-year-long litigation involving Don Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy. That case resulted in a landmark opinion by the Supreme Court of Appeals of the United States addressing campaign contributions and judicial recusal. Stanley’s efforts were chronicled in “The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption” by best-selling author Laurence Leamer.
Stanley also represented the widows and estates of Massey coal miners killed in an underground fire in Logan County, West Virginia, and won significant settlements against both the mine operator and the United States government. His work has been recognized by the Public Justice Foundation, who named him a 2012 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award Finalist.
Law degrees awarded to the Class of 2018 include J.D., J.D./Online MBA, and J.D./Masters of Public Administration. Many graduates earned their J.D. with concentrations in International Law, Energy and Sustainable Development Law, Labor and EmploymentLaw, and Public Interest Law.