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A collection of WVU Law stories about our students, alumni and professors.

WVU Law alum Martin Harrell

Alum establishes new scholarship in honor of WVU Law professor

Now, the successful attorney for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is honoring that professor with a new endowed scholarship at the West Virginia University College of Law.

Harrell graduated from WVU Law in 1982 and has been a lawyer at the EPA regional office in Philadelphia since 1983. He now manages all legal aspects of the agency’s criminal enforcement program in five Mid-Atlantic states. 

As one of the government’s top environmental enforcement lawyers, Harrell is helping protect the land, communities and people from environmental and public health threats.

WVU Law student Ashley Stephens hiking

Ashley Stephens is heading to a federal clerkship

Ashley is from Cross Lanes, West Virginia, a small town on the outskirts of Charleston. She earned her B.S. degree in biology from WVU in 2019. As an undergraduate, she worked as a Patient Family Liaison for WVU Hospitals and a Pediatric Volunteer for Charleston Area Medical Center. As a law student, she held two summer clerk positions at Bowles Rice LLP, served as president of the Health Law Society, and was executive publications editor of the West Virginia Law Review (Vol. 124). 

After graduation, I will clerk for the Honorable Judge Stephanie D. Thacker (WVU Law Class of 1990) at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Charleston, West Virginia. I knew that I wanted to spend my first year after law school clerking in federal court because the breadth of experience one gets as a law clerk, from civil to criminal matters, is unmatched. 

At the appellate level, the role of a law clerk is primarily research and writing, two skills that are crucial to success as a practicing attorney. The opportunity to work directly with an experienced judge who can offer invaluable insight and mentorship, coupled with a chance to become a more efficient and effective legal writer, was appealing. 

Before starting law school, I had the opportunity to listen to Judge Thacker speak on the Women’s Leadership Council’s "Women on the Bench" panel. I was not only inspired by her path to the federal bench but by the fortitude and grace with which she talked about handling complex legal issues and her commitment to public service. 

WVU Law student Jenn Long in Judge Mignault's courtroom

Jenn Long: From cosmetology school to law degree

A licensed cosmetologist since 2003, Long earned bachelor’s degrees in accounting and economics from West Virginia State University in 2018. Then, while working as a tax consultant, she took the LSAT.

"You know in kindergarten when they ask you what you want to be when you grow up?" Long said. "My answer has always been an attorney. I always knew I would go to law school." 

However, Long became pregnant in high school and chose to defer her law school dreams  — for a while.

"But, as my daughter got older, I knew I had to show her that I could still accomplish so many things. I needed her to know this because I want her to feel the same way," Long explains.

WVU Law student Dan Granfield with 2022 Professor of the Year Vince Cardi

Dan Granfield is New Hampshire bound

Dan is from West Haven, Connecticut. He majored in economics and political science at the University of Rhode Island. After that, he worked on Capitol Hill and for a government relations firm in Washington, D.C. While in law school, he has held legal internships with the Connecticut Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice. This year, Dan has worked in the Immigration Law Clinic. 

This summer, I will be moving to New Hampshire to focus on the bar exam. Then, after a vacation in the Pacific Northwest, I will start work for Sulloway & Hollis P.L.L.C. as an Associate Attorney. The firm has multiple locations throughout New England, and I will be based at their headquarters in Concord, New Hampshire. I start right after Labor Day, and I’m very excited!

Sulloway & Hollis work for a broad range of clients in business, labor and employment, healthcare, insurance, state taxation, estate planning, litigation and education law. Our clients include businesses, public entities, nonprofit organizations, health care institutions, municipalities, educational institutions and individuals.

Sometime during my 2L year, I realized I wanted to head back closer to home, and more specifically, New Hampshire. I began searching WVU Law alum in the New England states, and I quickly learned that WVU Law isn’t a natural pipeline to New England, especially in the more rural states like New Hampshire. So I knew in order to get up there, I couldn’t rely on applications alone.

WVU Law Professor Will Rhee teaching class

Social Justice: A Tale of Two Innovative Law Courses

Professor Jena Martin's  International Human Rights course helps students understand and, ultimately, enforce human rights laws. Professor Will Rhee’s Race/Racism and American Law seminar explores different legal perspectives on race.

Martin has taught her class for four years with the goal of helping students learn to identify and remedy social wrongs, including those done by corporations, government entities and individuals. She also helps students apply historical treatises, laws and agreements when considering how to tackle international legal problems.

She says law students who take her course are usually interested in helping solve larger social justice issues. Some, but not all, are interested in international law.

Third-year law student Sophia Runion enjoys Martin’s course for its opportunities to explore topics not offered in other law classes.

Law School Love 2022 edition

WVU Law 2021 graduate Kayla Aungst

Kayla Aungst: Giving Clients a Voice

WVU Law 2021 graduate Kayla Aungst

Aungst, a 2021 graduate of the West Virginia University College of Law, is working in a staff attorney fellowship for Legal Aid of West Virginia. She helps foster parents, kinship caregivers and clients in abuse and neglect cases with guardianship, adoption, visitation and other legal matters.

“I could not be happier to have accepted this fellowship, as it has enabled me to make a difference in my clients' lives and in the community,” Aungst said.

Aungst received her post-graduate fellowship from the West Virginia Fund for Law in the Public Interest to help her begin a career dedicated to serving others. The fellowship awards a $50,000 stipend to WVU Law students to work for one year at a West Virginia-based public interest organization of their choice.

WVU Law student Madison Hinkle coming out of a cave

With Purpose: Maddie Hinkle Wants to Help the Environment

“I cannot see myself doing anything other than environmental law work,” said Hinkle, who is in her final year at the West Virginia University College of Law

WVU Law student Madison Hinkle coming out of a cave

Hinkle wants to use her law degree to help preserve public lands, protect clean water resources and promote clean energy. 

"My dream would be to have the opportunity to do this type of work here in West Virginia after graduation, fighting on behalf of the state that gave me the love of the environment I have today,” she said.

WVU Law student Shawn Hogbin in class

A Week in the Life of a 3L

Shawn Hogbin is a very busy 3L from Hedgesville, West Virginia. He is President of the Student Bar Association, Executive Notes Editor for Volume 124 of the West Virginia Law Review, a Magistrate Court Mediator, a Peer Academic Consultant, Treasurer of the Federal Bar Association-WVU Chapter, Secretary of Environmental Law Society, a member of the ACLU-WVU Law Chapter and  WVU Student Grotto editor. During his 2L year, Hogbin worked as a program assistant for West Virginia Continuing Legal Education. In Summer 2020, he was a summer associate at the Skinner Law Firm in Charles Town, West Virginia. Hogbin graduated from WVU in 2018 with bachelor's degrees in Political Science and Multidisciplinary Studies with emphases on philosophy, communication studies and business administration.

"This week was an exceptionally busy week for me. I have a collection of meetings, interviews, extracurricular responsibilities and other tasks that fall outside my regular schedule of reading, attending class, and writing notes," Hobgin said.

WVU Law student Shawn Hogbin walking into the law school

7:00 - 8:20 AM  – I wake up, shower, and begin getting dressed for the day. My apartment is a short walk from the College of Law, and I enjoy my walks to and from class. I have one roommate, a friend from high school and undergraduate, who I've lived with for seven years.

WVU Law student Bob Hinzman in the law school lobby

Bob Hinzman: Veteran and Fraud Fighter

Bob Hinzman has spent the last two summers taking law classes at the College of Law and providing legal research as an independent contractor. As a non-traditional 1L, he joined the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity and was paired with a mentor, Suleiman O. Oko-Ogua of Bailey & Wyant, PLLC

Before law school, he lived in Fayette County, West Virginia, with his wife and three children, and he worked full-time for the West Virginia State Police as a Financial Crimes Investigator in the department’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations. He holds an undergraduate degree from Bluefield State College, a master’s degree from the University of Charleston, and is a certified fraud examiner. 

WVU Law - Headshots of Brian Headley, Regan Martinez and Jason Ballard

Meredith Center: Creating Opportunities One Student at a Time

“When I went to work in the morning, the sun was already bright. I crossed two bridges and saw a view of grass meeting the water. The sun was just a little too hot on my neck as I walked into the office, and the air outside smelled like salt water. That's how I started every workday. It was ideal.”

WVU Law - Headshots of Brian Headley, Regan Martinez and Jason Ballard

2L Regan Martinez lived this “ideal” life while working at Headley Ballard LLC in South Carolina from May to August 2021. The firm’s founders are two members of the WVU Law Class of 2004, Brian Headley and Jason Ballard.

Martinez and fellow 2L Alexis Kessel connected and interviewed with Headley Ballard LLC through WVU Law’s on-campus interview program run by the Meredith Center for Career Services and Professional Development

WVU Law Peer Academic Consultants Blake Jacobs and Nakia Ridgeway

Jacobs and Ridgeway: Peer Academic Consultants

WVU Law Peer Academic Consultants Blake Jacobs and Nakia Ridgeway

As Peer Academic Consultants, Jacobs and Ridgeway have partnered with a professor and course of their choice to host weekly office hours and group review sessions that supplement the material presented in class.

For Ridgeway, becoming a PAC meant being able to pay it forward. Upper-level students serving as PACs helped her excel in her first-year law courses. Now she serves as a PAC for professor Charles DiSalvo’s Civil Procedure class.

“I wanted to become a PAC because I wanted to support incoming students and help them do well in their first year, a period that sets the foundation for their time in law school, and I wanted to be able to impart the strategies that did (and did not) help me in succeeding in Civil Procedure,” Ridgeway said. “My favorite thing about being a PAC is getting to help students on a one-on-one basis and watching them progress over the semester.”

WVU Law 2021 graduate Emily Neely

Emily Neely '21: A Love of Service

WVU Law 2021 graduate Emily Neely

Originally from Gerrardstown, West Virginia, Emily Neely finished her undergraduate education as a fourth generation West Virginia University graduate after receiving her bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy.

In May 2021, she became the first person in her family to graduate from law school.

During law school, Neely worked as a student attorney in WVU College of Law’s Child and Family Advocacy Law Clinic. She also joined the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society and was elected president of the school’s community service council and Public Interest Advocates group. She graduated with pro bono distinction and a community service award, and her engagement earned her the Culture of Excellence Spirit of WVU Law Award in 2018 and CALI Excellence for the Future Awards in civil procedure and legal writing.

WVU Law 2021 graduate Austin Longnecker

Austin Longnecker '21: Taking Every Opportunity

Ever since his first day at the West Virginia University College of Law, Austin Longnecker made sure to take every opportunity that came his way. His hard work and commitment to seizing opportunities paid off — he graduated in May with a labor and employment concentration and a wide array of extracurricular activities under his belt. 

Over the past three years, he has served as president of the Student Bar Association, executive notes editor of the West Virginia Law Review, student attorney in the Litigation and Advocacy Law Clinic and member of the executive boards of the Lugar Trial Association and West Virginia Employment Lawyers Student Association.

Longnecker was awarded Best Executive Editor of Volume 123 of the  West Virginia Law Review and received the pro bono distinction with more than 400 hours of pro bono work over the past three years. As a first-generation college graduate and a first-generation law school graduate, he credits the faculty, staff and students at WVU College of Law for helping fuel his passion in the legal profession.

“I am eternally grateful,” he says. “The last three years have been truly transformative, and I look forward to putting everything I have learned into practice, both professionally and in my personal life.”

WVU Law professor and immigration clinic director Alison Peck

Alison Peck: Educator, author and nonprofit executive

Alison Peck believes one of the most valuable things an individual can have in life is the opportunity to understand, develop and give of their own potential — something she has learned throughout her educational and professional journey.

Before joining the West Virginia University College of Law faculty in 2009, Peck practiced international arbitration and commercial litigation as a senior attorney at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP in Washington, D.C.; worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Judge Jon Newman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; and served as a research associate for the National Agricultural Law Center, among other things.

“The most important thing I learned from all these combined experiences is that it is absolutely essential to devote yourself to work you’re passionate about,” says Peck.

Today, as a professor of law, co-director of the immigration law clinic and director of international programs at the WVU College of Law, Peck divides her time between teaching, scholarship and service. She teaches eager first-year law students a common law course with importance for West Virginia while also working with a small group of dedicated clinic students on lawyering skills, client relations and a complex and technical federal regulatory field. She fosters and supports the burgeoning immigration law bar in West Virginia to expand access in the state to counsel through her service work and directly works on creative ideas to combat global poverty through the Bujuuko Foundation, a nonprofit she founded with Job Kasule that fosters young entrepreneurs and peer mentors in West Virginia and Uganda.

WVU Law 1995 graduate Roslyn Clark Artis, President of Benedict College

Roslyn Clark Artis '95: Leading an HBCU

Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis dreamed of becoming a lawyer from a young age — a dream she turned into a reality after graduating from the West Virginia University College of Law in 1995. While today she serves as the 14th president and CEO of Benedict College, the study of law helped plot her course as an educator and activist.

The three years she spent at the WVU College of Law were among the most challenging yet fulfilling years of her life. At the time, she relocated to Morgantown with her young son, Christopher, and found a strong support system within her family, friends and classmates, including other student parents who would take turns babysitting each other’s children while the parents were in class or studying. Artis was also mentored by members of the Mountain State Bar Association, the oldest minority bar association in the country.

“While minority lawyers in West Virginia were few in number, they had an outsized impact on my life, shaping my view of the legal system and cultivating my commitment to social justice and advocacy,” she says. “Through the Mountain State Bar Association, I developed a strong sense of responsibility for those coming behind me. In retrospect, that commitment to future generations probably planted the seeds for my career in higher education.”

During law school, Artis worked as a law clerk with Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Clarksburg, West Virginia, which she says positioned her well to embark at an insurance defense practice. She then moved home to Beckley, West Virginia, to be closer to her husband and family to work as an associate attorney at Brown & Levicoff, PLLC, where she learned the value of painstaking preparation and remaining a lifelong student.

WVU Law student Aliah Hasan at Argo AI

Aliah Hasan: Finding Opportunity in an Unexpected Place

During her 2L year, Hasan found a unique opportunity to help others in an unexpected setting that opened up new career possibilities. She spent eight months as a part-time law clerk at Argo AI, a high-tech firm based in Pittsburgh.

Argo AI creates the technology, maps and cloud-support infrastructure for self-driving vehicles. It works with automakers to help change the way people commute and ship goods while addressing issues like safety, accessibility, traffic congestion and more.

So where did a law student fit in at Argo AI?

Hasan has prior experience as a court advocate for low-income people. At Argo AI, she helped teams of researchers, engineers, developers and lawyers address compliance standards associated with emerging technology. She also contributed to Argos crucial business documents like its Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance policies.

WVU Law Emily Neely Class of 2021

Emily Neely: Helping Families Affected by Opioids

Emily Neely has been a public service powerhouse throughout her law school career, both as a leader in student organizations and as a student attorney.

Soon, thanks to a prestigious fellowship award, the 2021 WVU Law graduate will serve her community as a mediator for families affected by the opioid epidemic.

“Over 41,000, or nearly 11 percent, of West Virginia’s children are living with relatives, primarily due to parental substance use issues,” Neely explained. “My home community has been particularly affected, and I want to apply my interest in family law and alternative dispute resolution to address this issue.”

After graduation, Neely will work as an Equal Justice Works Fellow for Legal Aid of West Virginia in Martinsburg. She was among just 77 law school graduates chosen for the 2021 EJW Fellowship out of a pool of more than 460 applicants.

WVU Law Makeia Jonese 2021

Makeia Jonese: A Pathway to Success

Makeia Jonese came to the West Virginia University College of Law three years ago with one goal: to become a prosecutor.

Now, after a successful law school career, the 2021 graduate has her dream job.

After graduation, Jonese is moving to South Carolina to serve as a state prosecutor for the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office in Beaufort. The office is the chief prosecuting agency for five counties, handling around 5,000 cases a year.

Duffie Stone is the long-time head of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.  He has created a Career Criminal Unit that targets violent and habitual offenders, and he adopted intelligence-led prosecution, which uses technology to better understand and combat criminal activity.

WVU Law 2012 graduate Noah Barnes and family

Noah Barnes '12: Passion for Diversity and Justice

WVU Law 2012 graduate Noah Barnes and family

“There is just so much to learn about the world and the people in it, and there is always something new to learn or understand,” said the 2012 WVU Law graduate. “It is humbling, and it enriches one’s perspective of our common humanity.”

Barnes has built his own sense of common humanity through travel and forming diverse friendships. He credits these experiences for teaching him an important lesson: being White is not the normal experience for most of the world, and it’s not even normal for many in the United States.

“I think the failure to appreciate that very fact has led to a lot of misunderstandings in the world and a lot of inhumane policies and laws,” he said. “Gaining that kind of perspective is important, especially as we as a country have started to really confront larger and broader questions about diversity and culture over the last several years.”

WVU Law - A recent Pill Family photo

Rick Pill '77: Honoring his family and his roots

Morgantown is where Pill, a 1977 WVU Law graduate, grew up. It’s where his parents are from. It’s where he got his education at Morgantown High School and West Virginia University, and it’s where he grew into the person he is today.

“We learned the proper morals, work ethic and leadership skills from day-to day-life in my neighborhood, First Ward,” Pill recalled. “Along with our parents, we had good teachers, church leaders and neighbors in First Ward helping us along the way.”

Despite his strong Morgantown roots, Pill recalls feeling disconnected from the University community when he started his first undergraduate semester. Then, he and some friends joined Phi Kappa Psi. The fraternity opened doors to new friends and peer mentors who influenced Pill to improve his academic performance, grow his social network, gain leadership skills and get involved in public service projects. It also opened the door for him to attend the College of Law.

“I had no intention of going to law school during that time, but when I was a junior, seven members of Phi Kappa Psi started law school, and they encouraged me to do the same,” Pill said. “The direction of my life would have been totally different without the fraternity.”

WVU Law Louis A. Johnson

Louis A. Johnson: A Legacy of Leadership and Service

One such lawyer, forever tied to West Virginia, illustrates the valuable influence and the important responsibility held by members of the legal profession.

WVU Law Louis A. Johnson

In 1913, two native sons of Bedford County, Virginia, established a small firm in Clarksburg, West Virginia. It was a boomtown, close to manufacturing, banking, mineral, and service-related industries. Consequently, the new firm — Steptoe & Johnson — quickly carved out a niche in banking, insurance, litigation, mineral, and public utility law.

Philip Steptoe was a low-key, methodical and scholarly attorney while Louis Johnson was the compulsive extrovert and rainmaker. The complementary partnership between the two founders helped the young firm make a name for itself.

WVU Law Justin Tyree '20

Justin Tyree: Helping make the world a better place

Justin Tyree has a goal to use his law degree to make the world a better place — and that is just what he is doing. 

Since graduating in May 2020, Tyree has moved to Omaha, Nebraska, to work for the Immigrant Legal Center. The ILC is Nebraska’s largest immigration legal services nonprofit. It employs full-time licensed attorneys to provide high-quality legal services, education and advocacy to low-income immigrants.

At the ILC, Tyree provides legal assistance to clients in many types of immigration relief cases, including citizenship naturalization, asylum, and processing visas for victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking. He also represents clients in family court proceedings that are directly related to their immigration status.

WVU Law Professors Suzanne Weise and Patrick McGinley

Fighting the opioid epidemic in the courtroom

The numbers are stunning: 76 billion prescription opioid pills flooded the U.S. from 2006-2012. That's the equivalent of about 230 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills for every person in the country.

Six companies distributed 75% of the pills, and four companies manufactured more than 90% of all the pills. Since 1999, more than 230,000 people have died from prescription opioid overdoses.

"This data confirms that the pharmaceutical industry created a tsunami of opiates that drove addiction and death rates up," observed Dr. Thomas Frieden, former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These facts behind the national opioid epidemic would still be a secret if not for WVU Law professors Patrick McGinley and Suzanne Weise.

WVU Law students Ashton Meyers and Zach Ramey

Career Services: Working with firms and for students

The Meredith Career Services Center at the WVU College of Law partners with many law firms and  organizations in and out of the state to help students secure their paths in the law.

Every year, the staff works to create programming that highlights different areas of the law, prepare students for interviews, assist with application materials, and host professional networking opportunities.

“We are very fortunate to have great relations with a large number of law firms and other organizations,  who truly enjoy giving back to WVU Law in a variety of ways,” said Rosalind Lister, interim assistant dean for Career Services. “These firms have a strong and consistent campus presence and are popular amongst our students when it comes time to apply for internships and jobs.”

One such partner is Oxley Rich Sammons. The Huntington, West Virginia-based civil litigation firm has participated in on-campus interviews at WVU Law for many years. 

WVU Law - Hon. Frank Volk, Christine Jacobs, Ryan Walters, Tyler Barton, Mary Wiliams

One Judge, Four Students and an Invaluable Experience

WVU Law graduate Alex Aide '13 with Lady Gaga

Alex Aide: Building a Kinder, Braver World

Alex Aide, WVU Law ’13, is the director of programs for Born This Way Foundation, co-founded by pop singer Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, a native West Virginian and a WVU graduate. The Foundation supports young people's mental health and works with them to build a kinder, braver world.

How did you end up working a "J.D. Advantage" job? Was this your plan when you graduated from WVU Law?

I decided when I was graduating from WVU Law that my top goal when it came to job-hunting was to work with an organization that was helping the world in some way, rather than adding to its problems. My first job after law school was as a Fellow at Propper Daley in Los Angeles, where I helped their team guide clients like Disney and Viacom toward making sound charitable and social impact strategies.

From there, I moved to the WME talent agency, where I worked on a team that provided philanthropic consulting to the agency's clients, including Charlize Theron, Matt Damon, and Lady Gaga. That is how I met Born This Way Foundation’s team, and after learning more about the mission they set out to achieve along with the wonderful people helping to build it, I knew that's where I eventually wanted to be one day. 

WVU Law Moot Court Team New Orleans

Mock Trial Team: A Trip to Remember

Michael Hicks, Kenshandra Mitchell, Holly Netz and Lauren Mahaney (above) were one of seven teams competing in the national finals of the Labor and Employment Trial Advocacy Competition, hosted by the American Bar Association in late January 2020. They had earned a trip to the finals in New Orleans by placing second in the regional competition in New York earlier in the school year. 

Coaches Mitch Moore ’19, John Pizzo ’14 and Kevin Connoley ’17, attorneys with Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, accompanied the team to New Orleans.

Pizzo: After meeting at the College of Law at 5:20 a.m. on Friday (January 24) and driving to Pittsburgh, our flight to Chicago was on time and thankfully uneventful. That was the end of the good news. Our 10:35 a.m. flight from Chicago to New Orleans was delayed no less than nine times because of fog. 

As the delays continued, we started to come to grips with the possibility that the flight to New Orleans—and our competition hopes—might be outright canceled. We began by searching for different flights or other airports that we could drive to and catch a flight. We were unable to find an alternative arrangement.

Meet Jonah Kone: Land Use Clinic VISTA

Jonah Kone has committed a year of service to help the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic at WVU Law apply economic policy research to its community development efforts across the state.

The Boulder, Colorado, native joined the LUSD clinic as an Americorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) in August 2019. He will work with the clinic until August 2020 and potentially beyond.

The goal of an Americorps VISTA is to support work that alleviates poverty and advances communities. Kone meets that goal by conducting economic and social policy research for the LUSD clinic that is not specifically law-related, but that helps influence the clinic’s legal decisions and recommendations for its clients.

The LUSD clinic works with local governments in towns and counties across West Virginia to create and implement comprehensive plans that support future development. During the comprehensive planning process, a community addresses long-term strategies relating to issues like land use, historic preservation, recreation, infrastructure, transportation and economic advancement.

WVU Law - Kimberly Reed 1996 graduate in the Oval Office

Kimberly Reed '96: Leading U.S. Exports and Creating Jobs

After more than 20 years of career success in the government, private and non-profit sectors, Kimberly Reed ’96 has reached a new milestone: she is the first woman—and first West Virginian—to lead the federal Export-Import Bank of the United States.

Founded in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt, EXIM is an independent federal agency mandated by Congress to support American jobs and grow the U.S. economy. With 400 employees, EXIM finances the purchase of American exports to help offset the risk of non-payment by foreign buyers, and it extends working capital loan guarantees that enable U.S. businesses to fill export orders. 

Reed was nominated by President Donald Trump to be EXIM’s 48th president and chairman of the board of directors. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a bipartisan vote of 79 to 17.

In May, Reed was sworn-in at an Oval Office ceremony with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and her dad, Terry (photo above).

WVU Law student Tyler Gordon '20

Tyler Gordon: Advocate for Diploma Privilege

The 3L at WVU Law recently wrote an article for West Virginia Lawyer magazine to explain how students and the state would benefit from the reinstatement of diploma privilege. The magazine is published by the West Virginia State Bar.

WVU Law student Ramsay Jorgenson '21

Ramsey Jorgensen: You never know what will happen in a courtroom

“There is video of the incident from CNN and other news sites, and in the video you can see me,” Jorgensen said. “I was that close.”

Jorgensen was working as a law clerk last summer at the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy in Lincoln, Neb., when he got the chance to sit in on a trial with his supervisor.

During the trial, the defendant suddenly yelled then slashed his neck several times with a pen that was lying on a nearby desk. An ambulance rushed him from the courthouse to a hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries—and the video of the incident went viral.

WVU Law student Hannah Sketetee '20

Hannah Steketee: Summer Job in Guatemala

Hannah Steketee '20 lived and worked in the city of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala over the summer of 2019. She interned with Caras Alegres, a non-governmental organization that provides food, after school programming and educational resources to families and children living at or below the poverty line.

“Guatemala is in the top five most malnourished countries worldwide,” Steketee said. “Caras Alegres provides the dual benefit of combatting malnutrition and allowing parents to go to work knowing their children are safe.”

As the assistant director of development at Caras Alegres, Steketee wrote grants and other documents, communicated with donors, and conducted research.

WVU Law student Hannah Sketetee '20

WVU Law Google Interns with Ola Adekunle

Ola Adekunle: From STEM to Google Patent Counsel

WVU Law Google Interns with Ola Adekunle Ola Adekunle '07 with MacKenzie Milam '20 and Jeremy Cook '20  during Google's 2018 Legal Summer Institute. Adekunle was recently named to the 2019 Class of Lawyers & Leaders by West Virginia Executive magazine and WVU Law.

When he decided to apply to law school, Olaolu "Ola" Adekunle ’07 had veered from the path he created for himself and began a new, unexpected journey.

Pursuing a legal education presented financial and academic challenges for Adekunle, an international student with a STEM background, but his support system at WVU helped him succeed academically and reach his professional goals.

WVU Law 2017 Graduate Veronique Vernot

Veronique Vernot: Hitting the Ground Running at Mercedes-Benz

The same day Veronique Vernot found out that she passed the Georgia Bar Exam, she received an e-mail from Mercedes-Benz USA. The company wanted to schedule a digital interview with her for an in-house counsel position at its Atlanta headquarters.

“It was an awesome day!” recalled the 2017 WVU Law graduate.

The digital (video) interview went well and Vernot, just months out of law school, was asked to participate in a formal application process that spanned approximately two months and involved multiple exams and in-person interviews.

In the end, Vernot was asked to join the team and work in Atlanta at Mercedes Benz-USA.

WVU Law 3L T'Keyah Nelms

T'Keyah Nelms: A Passion for Public Service

As a 3L at WVU Law, T'Keyah Nelms is turning her passion for helping others into a legal career and a lifestyle centered around public service.

In summer 2018, Nelms was a Certified Legal Intern at the Allegheny County Public Defender’s Office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There, she represented more than 65 clients in criminal and domestic violence preliminary hearings in Pittsburgh’s Magisterial Courts, negotiated deals with Allegheny County assistant district attorneys and law enforcement officers, and responded to mail from incarcerated clients.

“Working with the Allegheny County Public Defender’s Office helped me realize I want to pursue a career in criminal law upon graduation,” said Nelms. “Having the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with clients and to speak in front of a judge every day served as a practical application of what I have learned in my law classes, and I gained specialized skills and knowledge within this area of the law.”

According to Nelms, her passion for serving as a voice for others stems in part from her own experience being diagnosed with thyroid cancer in her sophomore year of college. She lived with the cancer until she graduated and was able to get a job with health insurance to help offset the cost of surgery to remove her tumor.

WVU Law student Stephen Scott at Jones Day in Pittsburgh

Stephen Scott: The Global Law Firm Experience

“I applied to Jones Day because it is internationally leading in litigation, among many other accolades, particularly in its Pittsburgh office,” said Scott. “Jones Day provides its associates with a breadth of opportunities to collaborate across offices and get involved with cases from beginning to end.”

Jones Day is a global law firm with offices in the Americas, Middle East, Asia, Europe and Australia. Its Pittsburgh office employs more than 70 lawyers who handle litigation and transactional matters for a local, national and international clients.

The firm treated Scott as if he was a full-time associate, immediately allowing him to work on billable and pro bono projects with attorneys in Pittsburgh and at other Jones Day offices. He primarily worked on civil litigation assignments involving several areas of law, including insurance, commercial transactions, and cross-border disputes.

Jones Day’s highly collaborative work environment also enabled Scott to work closely with attorneys in the firm’s Washington, DC office on an appellate brief.

WVU Law 2018 Sprouse Fellows

Sprouse Fellows: Work Experience and Public Service

This summer, four WVU Law students are working in public defender’s offices throughout West Virginia. They are gaining the valuable work experience and providing an important public service as recipients of the Sprouse Fellowship.

Funded through the West Virginia Fund for Law in the Public Interest, the Sprouse Fellowship awards 2L students a $5,500 stipend to work for 10 weeks in a West Virginia state or federal public defender’s office. It is named in honor of James Marshall Sprouse, a U.S. Fourth Circuit Judge and former justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

“The Sprouse Fellowship is a competitive opportunity, and it allows students to obtain their Rule 10 practice certifications and appear in court under the supervision of a licensed attorney,” said Jennifer Powell, director of the Center for Law and Public Service. “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.”

The 2018 Spouse Fellows are Karissa Blackburn, Jade Hamilton, Jason Neal and Ellen Walburn.

WVU Law 2013 graduate Travis Brannon

Travis Brannon: Fueling the Future

The energy sector has changed a lot since Travis Brannon ’13 started law school. 

While different sectors continue to fight over pieces of the energy pie, the pie is also getting bigger as growing demand drives global energy production, according to Brannon.

Brannon’s job is to help his clients adapt to the ever-changing environment in the globalized and connected energy economy.

An associate at K&L Gates in Pittsburgh, Brannon represents well-known oil and gas exploration and production companies, as well as other large corporate clients in the energy industry. He also serves companies involved in renewable energy resources as they step up their presence in the industry.

WVU Law 2014 Graduate Kelli Ganz Murray

Kelli Ganz Murray: A Goal, Work Ethic and Compassion

As a law student, Kelli Ganz Murray '14 had worked as summer intern for the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services, which oversees the Boston Public Defender Division. After that experience, she made it her goal to return to the city as a public defender.

Following graduation, Murray moved permanently to Boston in order to take advantage of opportunities that would help her achieve that career goal. She passed the Massachusetts and New York bar exams and she secured a clerkship with the Honorable M. Page Kelley of the United States District Court in Boston.

“I learned an incredible amount from Judge Kelley, who began her own career as a public defender. She helped me make great contacts and get my foot in the door at the public defender agency,” Murray said.

Following her clerkship, Murray spent two years as a public defender for an area north of Boston. The county is notoriously rough and Murray endured long work days and a long commute, but it paid off.

WVU Law EILC Client UMuseUs

UMuseUs: A High-Tech Clinic Client

Justin Whitman wants West Virginia to be a hub for the technology industry, beginning with his own high-tech startup, UMuseUs.

"When I moved to Berkeley County from northern Virginia in 2008, there weren't many tech or business ventures in West Virginia, so I had to create my own opportunities," Whitman said. "So I did corporate consulting for Fortune 100 and 500 companies. Then I decided that putting my best foot forward in West Virginia would be to start a tech venture here."

UMuseUs is a multifaceted, interactive social platform that is centered around music of all genres. The website,, uses proprietary software to "provide platforms, venues and resources that empower musicians and music lovers to share, discover, interact, create and more."

"UMu se U s allows you to say, 'I'm a guitar player. Th is is what I look like. H ere's an audio or video clip of what I sound like, or here is some of my original work'. Bands are able to find someone to play with them who is qualified, ju st like a recruiter does when they're trying to fill a job," Whitman explained. "It also allows music lovers to discov er new artists and become a musician's first fan. And it allo ws musicians of all ages to showcase their skillset from home and have an avenue for others to hear their music and give them feedback," he said.

WVU Law Marlon Rhine '15

Marlon Rhine: Balancing His Practice with His Passion

When he was a law student, Marlon Rhine ’14 lived a double life.

Before he came to WVU Law, Rhine was a multi-instrument musician for several touring bands. While he lived in Morgantown, the Georgia-native played drums in a local band with a classmate, performing throughout West Virginia.

In between classes, homework and gigs, the Emory University graduate was also tour manager for the late Colonel Bruce Hampton, a founding member of Atlanta’s avant-garde Hampton Grease Band.

“One Sunday afternoon, I went to a music festival in Virginia with Colonel Bruce,” Rhine recalled. “I was there having lunch with big-name musicians one day, and then the next day, I was on Law School Hill sitting in Professor Cardi’s bankruptcy class.”

WVU Law Americorps Volunteers Allison Eckman and Rob Donaldson

WVU Law's VISTAs are helping communities

Attorneys and students in the WVU's Land Use and Sustainable Development(LUSD) Law Clinic work many hours of pro bono service to help the state’s communities develop and grow strategically — but they aren’t doing it alone.

Allison Eckman and Rob Donaldson are Americorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) who have committed a year of service helping the LUSD Law Clinic and West Virginia communities create and implement comprehensive plans.

The goal of an Americorps VISTA is to support work that alleviates poverty and advances communities. The LUSD VISTAs meet that goal by working with the public to improve shareholder engagement and facilitate public meetings, workshops and trainings that surround the comprehensive planning process.

Rob Donaldson began working with the LUSD Clinic in November 2016 on a comprehensive plan for McDowell County. He is based at the WVU Beckley Campus and frequents meetings in the communities of War, Gary, Welch, Northfolk, Iaeger, and Keystone.

WVU Law 3L Katie Hutchison at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Katie Hutchison: A path to helping refugees

Opportunities at WVU Law sparked Katie Hutchison’s interest in the plight of refugees and ultimately led her to a prestigious legal internship at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Baltimore, Maryland.

“Working with the IRC is helping me engage with cultures and understand humanitarian crises that were never on my radar before,” said Hutchison, a rising 3L.

Hutchison’s interest in refugee law began two summers ago when she attended a lecture at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico as part of the college’s study abroad program.

She returned to WVU Law and immersed herself in classes on international law, refugee and asylum law, and immigration law. Outside the classroom, Hutchison took advantage of an opportunity to work with Professor James Friedberg to conduct research on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

WVU Law CJ Reid Class of 2017

CJ Reid: Career-building summers lead to a pro bono record

CJ Reid graduated from WVU Law in May and his main focus this summer is preparing for — and passing — the bar exam.  

Like dedicated law students everywhere, Reid spent his last two law school summers gaining valuable work experience that would give his career a boost.

Along the way, though, Reid did something remarkable. He amassed an amazing 840 hours of pro bono legal service — more than any WVU Law student has ever done.

A student earning 200 pro bono hours while in law school is outstanding, according to Jennifer Powell, director of WVU Law’s Center for Law and Public Service.

WVU Law Maggie Power at Atlanta CDC

Maggie Power: Practicing at the Intersection of Public Health and the Law

At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, they often say that the first tool in improving public health is studying patterns and the second tool is the law.

Maggie Power, a WVU Law 3L, follows that maxim every day in her externship as a research attorney for the CDC’s Public Health Law Program.

Power is combining her background in public health with her legal education. Her job is studying how law acts as a factor in the cause, distribution and prevention of health-related issues. She also provides technical assistance to local, state, tribal and territorial governments looking to improve their public health laws.

Instead of taking the usual courses in her final semester of law school, Power opted for WVU Law’s Federal Agency and Judicial Externship course. The course allows students to work full-time in a federal or judicial agency to apply their legal training in a professional setting. They meet remotely with their professor and complete a research paper and reflective writing assignments for course credit.

WVU Law Micki Biggs

Biggs, Holbrook and Waldie: Serving West Virginia as Post-Grad Fellows

Three 2016 graduates of WVU Law are spending a year serving local communities as public interest lawyers.

Patrick Holbrook, Susan Waldie and Micki Biggs were each awarded post-graduate fellowships by the West Virginia Fund for Law in the Public Interest. As fellows, they receive $46,000 to cover their salary and benefits while working in a West Virginia legal services organization until October 2017.

“There’s a lack of access to justice in West Virginia for those who can’t afford it,” said Jennifer Powell, director of the Center for Law and Public Service at WVU Law. “Funding a full-time, licensed attorney to work in these organizations really helps, in a direct way, to provide additional legal services to people who are in desperate need of them.”

WVU Law Micki Biggs

WVU Law Operation Haitian Christmas

Vernot and Young: Helping out in Haiti

Two students recently extended the reach of WVU Law’s public service by helping families in Haiti.

Veronique Vernot and Shane Young traveled to Haiti over winter break to help residents rebuild their lives following the widespread destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and an earthquake in 2010.

With the help of Vernot’s family, the pair traveled across Haiti to deliver toys, clothes and food to families devastated by the two natural disasters. They had gathered the donated items from the College of Law and institutions around West Virginia and the United States.

While in Haiti, Young and Vernot also helped assess damage to homes for NGOs working to rebuild communities in the island nation. 

Lisa Hartline

Lisa Hartline: A Fellowship Grant Provides Professional Opportunities

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA — A fellowship last summer provided WVU Law 3L Lisa Hartline with the experience and confidence she wanted before embarking on her legal career.

Hartline spent 10 weeks in the Parkersburg office of Legal Aid of West Virginia. She was the program’s first recipient of the Regina Charon Fellowship, worth more than $5,000.

As allowed by West Virginia Judiciary Rule 10, Hartline was able to represent her clients in court under supervision of an attorney.

“Now, after getting the full experience of being a working attorney, it’s been hard to just be a student again,” said Hartline. “I feel I’m ready to go from being a law student to a professional lawyer.”

WVU Law Jen Bauer SEC extern

Jennifer L. Bauer: A Support System for Success

A successful externship has given Jennifer Bauer a support system to explore a future full of possibilities.

For 10 weeks last summer, the WVU Law 3L was among a cadre of elite externs at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Washington, DC. She worked alongside law, business and cyber security students from schools such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Georgetown, Northwestern, the University of Florida and Vanderbilt.

Bauer was the only law student working for the General Counsel in the SEC’s Office of Compliance, Inspections and Examinations (OCIE), but she shared office space with 13 other externs.

This group soon became close knit and brought varying educational and professional backgrounds, stories and advice to the workplace, according to Bauer.

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