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Sprouse Fellows are helping access to justice

WVU Law student Ashley Brash and Rayann Yocum
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.

Brash is completing her fellowship with the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of West Virginia in Clarksburg. Last school year, she was a legal extern in that office and, last summer, she worked for the Office of the Public Defender for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon. 

Yocum is working for Harrison County Public Defender in Clarksburg. She was previously a graduate assistant in the WVU Student Legal Services office in spring 2021.  In summer 2020, Yocum was a Civic Leadership Fellow for the Parkersburg (West Virginia) Area Community Foundation. She has also interned twice for the Wood County Prosecuting Attorney in Parkersburg.  

Supported by the West Virginia Fund for Law in the Public Interest, the Sprouse Fellowship program is named in honor of the late James Marshall Sprouse (1923-2004), a judge for U.S. Fourth Circuit and a justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. WVFLIPI is a non-profit that funds work experiences for WVU Law students at public interest legal organizations.

Meet the Students

Ashley Brach is the student vice president of the ACLU of West Virginia and If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice.  She is a member of the Public Interest Advocates and a trained Magistrate Court mediator. Brash is from Oak Hill, West Virginia. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from WVU in 2019 with minors in Women's and Gender Studies, International Relations and Comparative Politics and Political Science. She a WVU Honors College Presidential Scholar.

Rayann Yocum is a member of the Lugar Trial Association and the Public Interest Advocates.  She is from Parkersburg, West Virginia. Yocum is an honors graduate of Marshall University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Communication Studies in 2019.



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