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Emily Neely '21: A Love of Service

“West Virginia shaped me into who I am, and I want to help shape it too.”

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.

After her first year of law school, Neely took advantage of her love of service and applied to work as an Equal Justice Works Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellow. The program gives students the opportunity to design a legal services project for underserved individuals around the country and interview with potential sponsors. With the help of Equal Justice Works, Neely designed a project with Legal Aid of West Virginia to provide mediation services to low-income West Virginians.

“Equal Justice Works helped me present my project to the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts, which then offered to sponsor my project,” she says.

As a result, Neely is returning to her hometown to implement this project as an Equal Justice Works Fellow at LAWV’s Martinsburg location. She is excited to start her career blending family law with alternative dispute resolution, and she is proud to be thriving in the state that raised her.

“I am very lucky to have grown up in the Mountain State and to have benefited from its abundant resources,” she says. “West Virginia shaped me into who I am, and I want to help shape it too.’”

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