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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 College of Law scholarship honors past Steptoe & Johnson CEO Brewer

Steptoe & Johnson announced a new WVU College of Law scholarship established in honor of retiring former CEO Susan Brewer

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Emerging leaders studying at the West Virginia University College of Law will benefit from a new scholarship established by Steptoe & Johnson PLLC in honor of retiring former CEO Susan S. Brewer, the first woman to lead a major law firm in Appalachia.

Steptoe & Johnson contributed $100,000 to establish the Susan S. Brewer Law Leadership Scholarship, which goes to full-time students at the College of Law who demonstrate leadership in their academic career, community, work and other areas.

“Susan is a brilliant litigator and leader who always carries others as she climbs,” Amelia Rinehart, William J. Maier, Jr. Dean and Professor of Law, said. “Honoring her trailblazing career in the legal profession with a scholarship of this caliber will enable the College of Law to recruit and educate students who reflect those same values of leading through excellence and service to the profession. We are so grateful for Susan’s lasting leadership and impactful commitment to WVU, as well as Steptoe & Johnson’s ongoing partnership with the College of Law to develop West Virginia’s future lawyers and leaders. This scholarship will support WVU students for many years to come, and we can’t think of a more fitting tribute to Susan’s incredible legacy in our profession.”

Brewer joined Steptoe & Johnson in 1980, two weeks after graduating from George Mason University with her law degree. She worked under managing partner Bob Steptoe as a litigator and served on the firm’s Executive Committee for over 20 years before taking the helm as CEO in 2009.

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