MORGANTOWN – The West Virginia University College of Law has received the 2012 Excellence in Pro Bono Award from the national rating service Super Lawyers. The award was given to the college’s clinical law program, which provides volunteer legal services to the poor, disadvantaged, and exploited.
“We are honored by this award,” said Joyce McConnell, the William J. Maier, Jr. Dean and Thomas R. Goodwin Professor of Law. “It recognizes that our law clinics provide both outstanding legal services for those in need and excellent professional experiences for our students.”
Established in 1976, WVU’s clinical law program provides more than 22,000 hours of pro bono legal aid per year. Supervised by law professors, the clinics serve the public while exposing students to all phases of lawyering, including drafting briefs, trial advocacy, negotiating and interviewing.
The WVU College of Law operates eight clinics: Child and Family Advocacy; General Civil Practice; the Innocence Project; Immigration; Land Use and Sustainable Development; Low Income Taxpayer; the Veterans’ Assistance Project; and U.S. Supreme Court.
The clinical law program is structured like a major law firm so that students can gain work experience across multiple practice areas. The program is directed by Marjorie McDiarmid, Steptoe & Johnson Professor of Law, with Valena Beety, associate professor of law, serving as deputy director.
Recent accomplishments of the WVU clinical law program include obtaining asylum for Syrian refugees, clearing a man’s name from the sex offender registry and signing an agreement with the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg — the first of its kind between a Veterans Affairs hospital and a law school.