WHEELING – Wheeling lawyer Barry Hill has been named among the top 500 plaintiffs' attorneys in America by Lawdragon Magazine.

Lawdragon is a national quarterly publication "that aims at providing insights into the personalities shaping trends in the legal community," a press release said in promoting the Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiffs' Lawyers in America, which is published each January.

"Those named to the list represent less than one-half of one percent of lawyers in the United States, placing them in an elite group of legal professionals," the release says.

Hill is CEO of Hill Williams, a firm that focuses on representing plaintiffs in prescription drug and medical device litigation and in class action work. Hill is a 1977 graduate of West Virginia University College of Law and a past president of the West Virginia Trial Lawyers Association. He was awarded the Bronze Star for service as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army in Vietnam.

Hill said he hadn't heard of Lawdragon until he started receiving correspondence about being a finalist for the list.

"I realize it's some sort of recognition, but I don't know anymore about it (Lawdragon) than what's on its Web site," he said.

"The Lawdragon rankings are intended to inform the public of the nation's top legal professionals who help those in need," said Katrina Dewey, CEO of Lawdragon. "We are enormously proud of the 500 lawyers that we are honoring this year as the best in the country."

Hill is the only West Virginia attorney on the list.

"One thing I know is that when I went to look for others in West Virginia, I saw a lot of names of people I know who are good lawyers," he said. "It's interesting because there are people from some really big corporate-type law firms. They do corporate plaintiff's work."

More than 10,000 attorneys were nominated for the list by their peers and the Lawdragon editorial staff, who selected nearly 1,600 finalists, featured as members of the "Lawdragon 3000" at Lawdragon.com, according to a press release. The Lawdragon 500 was selected from that group, based on a system that takes into account dozens of qualifications that are scored to determine the best lawyers nationwide.

Among the factors utilized in the list's selection are extensive research by Lawdragon's staff journalists, who interview thousands of lawyers nationwide, and a survey of lawyers and clients who vote for those they believe deserve ranking in the top 500.

Hill is married to Lisa Hill, a family practice physician. They have a son, Gabriel, who is a seventh grade student.

Hill has been a special assistant attorney general by Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office. In fact, a case in which he was appointed a special assistant was at the heart of a recent state Supreme Court decision.

Last month, the Justices turned down the request of Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceutica Products and Janssen Pharmaceutica which had appealed an order by Brooke Circuit Judge Martin Gaughan granting McGraw's motion to dismiss their counterclaim against him.

The case (Brooke Circuit Court case number 04-C-156) was filed in 2004 by Hill and Teresa Clark Toriseva, who the two companies said "purport to represent the Attorney General in pursuing claims against petitioners under the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act."

The companies' appeal mentioned that McGraw's office has "on several occasions in the past" retained private counsel to bring WVCCPA actions against companies doing business in the state "pursuant to contingency fee agreements." It also says that practice has been criticized as violating the WVCCPA, other state laws and constitutional requirements.

"Private counsel are not salaried government employees, but private plaintiffs' lawyers whose standard compensation method is contingency fee," the appeal states.

While the drug companies' appeal was refused by the Supreme Court, the state's original case against them continued in Brooke Circuit Court.

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