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Class of 2020 selects Rhee, Powell for honors

WVU Law Will Rhee

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Class of 2020 of the West Virginia University College of Law has selected William Rhee as Professor of the Year and Jennifer Powell as Staff Person of the Year.

It is WVU Law tradition for the Professor of the Year to give the commencement keynote speech. Rhee addressed the Class of 2020 in a video released on May 15.

Rhee has been a member of the faculty since 2008, and Powell has worked in the College’s administration since 2004.

“Professor Rhee is a role model,” said Kiana Bracciodieta, president of the Class of 2020. “He is trustworthy, kind-hearted and supportive. He does just about anything for anyone.”

Steketee is a runner-up Law School Student of the Year

WVU Law Hannah Steketee

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A member of the West Virginia University College of Law Class of 2020 is a runner-up for National Jurist Law School Student of the Year.

The magazine selected Hannah Steketee for its annual recognition of exceptional law students because of the range of her accomplishments in and out of school. Just three runners-up—and one winner—are selected nationally.

A recipient of WVU Law’s top academic scholarship, Steketee graduates on May 16 with a J.D./International Law Concentration. This summer, she will make a 4,000-mile journey from West Virginia to clerk for the Honorable Jonathan Woodman of the Palmer Superior Court in Alaska’s Third District.

Steketee is president of the International Law Students Association and captain of the Jessup International Law Moot Court Team. She is a member of the Immigration Law Clinic and the in-house Lugar Trial Association. She is also executive research editor for Volume 122 of the West Virginia Law Review, and a teaching assistant for Legal Analysis, Research and Writing. She has been a Dean’s Fellow peer tutor in criminal law, and she has earned a CALI award for the highest grade in Evidence class.

Professor Blake wins Significant Scholarship Award

WVU Law Professor Valarie Blake

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Professor Valarie Blake has won this year’s Significant Scholarship Award at the West Virginia University College of Law for an article about insurance discrimination.

Blake won for “Ensuring an Underclass: Stigma in Insurance,” which will be published in the Cardozo Law Review this year.

In her article, Blake points out that the cost and coverage of insurance—whether it be car, life, housing, health, or disability insurance—varies by social factors like sexual orientation, age or gender, even though such discrimination is not allowed in other settings. Insurers defend this practice on the basis that some social groups are costlier to insure than others. 

Using social science research, Blake argues that insurers are prone to the same biases as everyone else and are relying on stereotypes, rather than objective math, to decide insurance rates and coverage. The result is that the same social groups who suffer discrimination elsewhere in life also suffer insurance discrimination. Laws and regulations are needed to address and minimize this harm, she asserts.

Gutmann elected to lead next West Virginia Law Review

WVU Law Nick Gutman - West Virginia Law Review

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—Nick Gutmann, a rising third-year student at the West Virginia University College of Law, has been elected by his peers to serve as the next editor-in-chief of the  West Virginia Law Review.

The West Virginia Law Review is a professional legal journal that publishes articles of practical and theoretical value to legal scholars, students, legislators and lawyers. Founded in 1894, it is the fourth oldest student-governed law review in the country. 

As editor-in-chief of volume 123 of the West Virginia Law Review, Gutmann will lead a team of fellow students to review articles and publish three issues during the 2020-21 academic year. He will also take the lead in organizing a symposium and overseeing the law review’s website and online edition.

“It is my hope, as editor-in-chief, to continue the law review’s tradition of publishing exceptional legal scholarship,” Gutmann said. “I also want to dedicate a significant part of my time to implementing a strategic plan, which was developed over the past year with the goal of improving the publication as well as the experience of our members.”

Practical training and environmental law earn top marks from preLaw

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—The West Virginia University College of Law has earned top national recognition in two areas that prepare students for their careers.

PreLaw Magazine has given WVU Law a grade of A in practical training and environmental law.

For practical training, the magazine looked at WVU Law’s opportunities in clinics, externships, simulation courses, moot court participation and pro bono hours.

WVU Law’s environmental law grade is based on the college’s energy and environmental law curriculum, the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic, the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development, externships and student groups.

Professor Cardi named WVU Foundation Outstanding Teacher

WVU Law Professor Vince Cardi

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—Three exceptional West Virginia University faculty members have been honored with the University’s 2020  Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching. This year’s honorees are: 

Vincent Paul Cardi, Bowles Rice Professor of Law, College of Law.  

Dawn Hunter, Associate Professor of Pathology, Anatomy and Laboratory Medicine, School of Medicine.

Scott A. Myers, Professor and Peggy Rardin McConnell Endowed Teaching Chair of Communication Studies, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

John Taylor appointed interim dean

WVU Law 2020-21 Interim Dean John Taylor

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A First Amendment expert with extensive administrative experience at West Virginia University will guide the College of Law as interim dean, an appointment that will likely encompass the next academic year. 

Jackson Kelly Professor John E. Taylor will step into the role on July 1, upon the departure of Gregory Bowman who was recently named dean of the Roger Williams University School of Law. 

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed made the announcement Monday (April 13). 

“While we are sad to see Greg Bowman leave the University after his long tenure here, we wish him well in his new endeavor,” Reed said. “We are confident that that Professor Taylor, a well-respected faculty member and administrator, will bring a steady hand to his leadership role and help propel the law school the forward.” 

Donor support providing legal relief to West Virginia veterans

WVU Law Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—When Lawrence Brown returned stateside from the Vietnam War, the combat veteran from Pursglove, West Virginia, was overwhelmed by the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Rooted in that daily struggle, Brown was absent from the U.S. Army without leave on a couple of occasions, ultimately leading to a less than honorable discharge.

Immigration Law Clinic wins asylum appeal in U.S. Third Circuit (AP)

WVU Law Paige Beddow and Scott Cain Class of 2019

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — An asylum seeker from Ghana who said he was attacked by a mob led by his father because of his sexuality has shown a valid fear of persecution, a U.S. appeals court said in a case argued by two law students.

The petitioner, a gay man in his late 20s from Accra, said he had a secret relationship with a friend from his Muslim school days when his father found out in 2016 and flew into a rage. He said he was beaten, doused with kerosene and threatened with being beheaded before escaping, naked and bleeding.

He later made his way to the U.S., where immigration judges rejected his case, in part because it involved only a single attack. The initial judge suggested he could avoid further prosecution back home if he kept his sexuality a secret, according to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

Same-sex male relationships are misdemeanors in Ghana and can bring up to three years in prison, the ruling said. The Associated Press is not naming the petitioner at the request of his lawyer, Adrian Roe of Pittsburgh, who fears for his client’s safety if he is deported and hopes to have his name redacted from court records.

Cronin named energy fellow

WVU Law Energy Fellow Tim Cronin 2020

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—A West Virginia native has come home to serve as the new Energy Fellow in the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development at the West Virginia University College of Law.

Attorney Tim Cronin, originally from Buckhannon, West Virginia, has spent the past five years working with renewable energy developers to build projects that have delivered affordable energy and job opportunities to communities across the United States. He is on leave from the San Francisco office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he is a member of the energy and infrastructure practice group.

“We are fortunate to have Tim join us,” said Jamie Van Nostrand, director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development. “He is a talented and experienced energy lawyer with a national firm, and yet he saw an opportunity to come back to West Virginia to do good during a time of great transition for the state.”

As WVU Law’s Energy Fellow, Cronin is researching and promoting opportunities that West Virginia has to create jobs and expand businesses amid the push by public and private sector leaders to reduce emissions across the economy.

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