Family judge chooses to run because he enjoys giving back

By Kyla Asbury | Dec 9, 2015

CHARLESTON – Kanawha Family Judge R. Joseph Zak is hoping to continue his time on the bench after the 2016 election.

Zak practiced law for about 30 years before he was appointed to the bench in 2014 by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin when Judge Mike Kelly retired after 15 years on the bench.

"I'm running now for the reasons I wanted to before," he said. "I want to give back to the community, and this is how I can."

At the time of his appointment, Zak was a fellow at the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and a hearing examiner for the West Virginia Board of Medicine. He also served as a special assistant attorney general, a special commissioner for the 13th Judicial Circuit, a members of the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Appeal Board and a hearing examiner for the West Virginia Board of Regents.

Zak said after his children were grown and educated, he thought being a judge would be a good way to continue on with his career.

"I thought it would be a good way to give back," Zak said. "The bulk of my 30 years of practicing was done in family law, and I wanted to continue doing something with family law."

Zak has been married to his wife for 35 years. They have three children, two of which are also lawyers.

Zak graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor's in Business Administration in 1968. He then spent three years in the Army, before returning to WVU College of Law and graduating with his law degree in 1975.

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