PERSONNEL FILE: Benchmark honors Jackson Kelly as W.Va. firm of the year

By The West Virginia Record | Jul 26, 2012


MORGANTOWN -– Jackson Kelly recently was honored with two awards from Benchmark Litigation. The firm was named West Virginia Law Firm of the Year and was awarded West Virginia Case of the Year for the West Virginia University Board of Governors v. The Big East case.

During the Big East case, Jackson Kelly attorneys Stephen M. LaCagnin, Lindsay Simmons and Seth P. Hayes worked with West Virginia University and its Board of Governors to assess the options available when evaluating its exit from the Big East Conference.

Once a decision to exit the Big East Conference was made and negotiations stalled, the Jackson Kelly team - working with the University and an economic analyst familiar with the financial issues relating to college-level sports, filed suit in West Virginia to enact the change. When the Big East counter filed a claim requesting that the University remain in the conference for an additional 27 months (citing the conference's by-laws), Jackson Kelly, in conjunction with local counsel, represented WVU before the Rhode Island Superior Court.

While the West Virginia courts scheduled a trial (and denied the Big East's two motions to dismiss), the Rhode Island court ordered mediation between the parties. After three days of mediation, the organizations agreed to a settlement which enabled WVU to begin competing in the Big 12 Conference, effective July 1.

WVU's Vice President for Corporate and Legal Affairs, William Hutchens said, "Once WVU made the decision to transfer into the Big 12 conference, we compiled a team of professionals we knew could bring about the change, in the most expeditious way. Jackson Kelly's knowledge of the University's long-term goals was an integral part of our efforts to resolve the matter in a manner acceptable for all parties involved; they thoroughly understood our goals and strategically implemented them in a way which reaped great results for the University. We are glad we had them as lead counsel working in conjunction with other West Virginia counsel."

LaCagnin, Managing Member of Jackson Kelly's Morgantown office added, "From the beginning, Bill [Hutchens], Athletic Director Oliver Luck and President Clements had a very strong sense of their objectives, the issues that would be raised and the ultimate solution to the dispute. In today's market, college sports are an integral part of many universities' financial outlook and student experience. The move to the Big 12 was essential for WVU. We are humbled by this recognition from Benchmark Litigation."

The award selection for Benchmark's U.S. South Litigation Awards was based on peer review and research conducted by Benchmark's research team from November 2011 to January 2012. The Awards recognized firms in 14 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

Jackson Kelly is a national law firm representing global corporations, national companies, entrepreneurs and individuals in areas of law such as environmental, business, labor and employment, federal and state workers' compensation, civil litigation and occupational safety and health. The firm has offices in Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

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