CHARLESTON – There is something to be said about being the first Justice elected in a non-partisan race for a seat on West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
For that reason and many more, Justice Elizabeth “Beth” D. Walker was asked to participate in A Panel Discussion of Practicing Law in West Virginia from the Perspective of Female Attorneys on April 3 in Charleston at the 2017 West Virginia State Bar annual gathering.
“We made headlines when I took office this year because our Supreme Court is now made up of a majority of women for the first time," she told The West Virginia Record, talking about her May 10, 2016, victory. "I am hopeful to set a good example for young women who aspire to be lawyers or to run for public office."
Since taking her place on the bench Jan. 1, Walker has not been slowed down at all.
“We have a very busy court so in these first few months I have focused on learning how best to do my job,” said Walker, who graduated from The Ohio State University with her law degree and eventual graduate of Leadership West Virginia.
She shared some of that best at the panel discussion.
“I appreciated the opportunity to share my experience and hope that my remarks were helpful to not only to women lawyers but also everyone who leads law firms and other organizations where lawyers work,” Walker said, adding it was an honor to be included in the annual gathering aside other powerful women of the court.
She spoke on her vocation and the importance of paying it forward.
“First, I emphasized the importance of being a great lawyer," she said. "Men or women should not expect to succeed in this challenging field without working hard and doing excellent work.
“Second, it is important for women to cultivate mentors. I have had exceptional mentors who have helped me succeed throughout my career. Third, women need to advocate for themselves. Women should be strategic in their career development and never hesitate to negotiate for their own advancement."
The former partner with Bowles Rice, who specialized in labor and employment law, became an associate general counsel for the West Virginia University Health System while also becoming a 2012 elected a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.
Now the state’s first non-partisan justice, Walker said she looks forward to being on the bench for 12 years.
“It is hard work that I enjoy tremendously,” she said.