On January 19, West Virginia University Law students Emmanuel Backus and Logan Wagner came in second place in the 23rd Annual American Bar Association Law Student Tax Challenge – J.D. Division – (LSTC) held during the ABA Tax Section’s its Mid-Year meeting in San Francisco, California. The LSTC, organized annually by the Tax Section’s Young Lawyer Forum, is recognized as one of the premier transactional tax law competitions in the country.
Steptoe & Johnson PLLC Proudly Waves Gold and Blue in Recognition of WVU College of Law Alumni Lawyers
With a rich history in West Virginia, it is no wonder that so many West Virginia University (WVU) College of Law alumni choose to spend part (or in some cases all) of their careers at Steptoe & Johnson PLLC. In fact, 110 years after the firm got its start in Clarksburg, 110 of the firm’s 320 plus attorneys completed their law degrees as Mountaineers.
In 2023, six new attorneys with a J.D. from WVU College of Law joined Steptoe & Johnson. Many of them say their invaluable experience gained as a law student can be attributed to their success today.
“The opportunities available at WVU College of Law provided me with an opportunity to gain firsthand experience working in the energy industry through an internship with Chesapeake Energy LLC during the summer between my 2L and 3L years,” says Evan Conard, an energy litigation attorney who joined Steptoe & Johnson in November. “Additionally, various course offerings at the College of Law also provided the necessary background of legal principles of energy law that I regularly apply in my practice. I am able to build upon this background and experience through my practice at Steptoe & Johnson by focusing on energy litigation matters.”
The West Virginia University College of Law Lugar Trial Association held its annual Lugar Cup in-house trial competition in November.
WVU College of Law alumni Ben Vanston and Jacob Trombley became friends through an unlikely matchmaker: the West Virginia bar exam. They met through a new College of Law initiative that pairs recent graduates with newer alumni to mentor them and provide support as the bar exam approaches. About 40 WVU Law graduates participated in the pilot Peer Bar Exam Consultant project.
Vanston, who graduated in 2021 and now works for a Charleston law firm, was paired with Trombley, a 2023 graduate now working in Kingwood. Beginning in May, they talked weekly —sometimes for up to two hours — about the rigor of the test and the effort needed to pass the July exam.
About halfway through the summer study marathon, Vanston said he realized that Trombley was scoring well on practice tests and was likely to pass, so he shifted his attention to helping ease the stress and mental exhaustion of preparing for a three-day exam.
PreLaw Magazine has named WVU Law among the 2023 Best Schools for Public Service: Public Interest. Lawyers who practice public interest law help those who cannot afford legal services and the underrepresented, including the poor, the elderly, children and victims of domestic violence.
The College of Law, in conjunction with the nonprofit West Virginia Fund for Law in the Public Interest, has a long history of commitment to public interest law.
Since 1987, these two entities have built a program that provides approximately 20 summer fellowships along with one-year postgraduate placements with a public interest entity in West Virginia. These experiences have created a generation of attorneys ready to serve the greatest needs of our state.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
A: I am from Oceana, WV, and I'm currently a 3L at WVU Law. I graduated from WVU Tech in Beckley, WV, where I majored in Public Service Administration.
WVU Law Class of 2023 graduates will spend their summers preparing
for the bar exam and then dive into new careers, which range from clerkships
with federal and state judges to positions in law firms and government agencies
all across the country. Here are a few of their stories:
Ridgeway will begin a two-year clerkship with the Hon. Michael J. Aloi, United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of West Virginia, in Clarksburg. She served as a judicial extern in Judge Aloi’s chambers during law school and was eager to return to the “very hands-on opportunity.” While externing, Ridgeway attended hearings, helped write orders, and even assisted in handling two civil motions from start to finish.
Prominent trial attorney and West Virginia University College of Law
alumnus Paul Thomas Farrell, Jr. is the recipient of the 2023 College of Law Justitia
Officium Award. Established in 1978 to
mark the 100th anniversary of the 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. Mr. Farrell received his award at Commencement
on May 12.
“Paul understands how lives hang in the balance when injustice exists in our courtrooms and in our communities – and that, often, what can be accomplished in the courtroom can change the lives of countless others outside of it. Although he’s most recently fought for justice from the opioid industry for the devastation it has caused throughout West Virginia, Paul’s passionate advocacy for all and his relentless dedication to the legal profession and its role in society have had an immeasurable impact throughout his career. We are so honored that he and his wife, Jackie, are our alumni and continue the Farrell family’s lasting legacy to the College of Law,” said WVU College of Law Dean Amelia Smith Rinehart.
This spring, WVU Law students and members of the West Virginia
State Bar have been learning about international and domestic terrorism from former
international war crimes prosecutor Cody Corliss, a Wetzel County native who
returned to West Virginia to join the College of Law faculty last August.
Prior to coming to WVU Law, Professor Corliss served in the Office of the Prosecutor at a United Nations criminal tribunal in The Hague, the Netherlands. He was a member of the team that secured the conviction of Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladić on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war.
Corliss spoke to judges and practicing lawyers at the West Virginia State Bar 2023 Annual Meeting this spring and also taught a new law school seminar focusing on terrorism.
“What’s nice for me is that my talk for the bar and my scholarship dovetail really nicely with the seminar I’m teaching on domestic and international terrorism,” said Corliss, who holds degrees from Harvard University, Universiteit Leiden, and Cornell University. Fourteen students took the introductory terrorism seminar.
WV Bar Foundation Renames Scholarship in Honor of Justice Starcher To Benefit WVU Law Students