MORGANTOWN – The West Virginia University College of Law recently joined the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, a national organization dedicated to creating opportunities for minority law students.

LCLD is a group of more than 250 corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners. The program was launched in 2009.

Through the LCLD program, West Virginia’s first-year minority law students can participate in a mentoring program, and qualifying WVU law students will have access to exclusive internships at law firms and in corporate legal departments.

“This fall, 10 WVU law students will be paired with mentors who are practicing attorneys,” James Jolly, director of marketing and communications at WVU College of Law, told The West Virginia Record.

Jolly said the lawyers in the mentoring program have been trained by LCLD to help students maximize their potential in law school, and the lawyer becomes an adviser to the law student. The mentors are all practicing attorneys in the WVU region, including in Pittsburgh.

Rising second-year students can apply for the exclusive LCLD internships in the legal profession. Jolly said these internships provide hands-on educational experiences in law firms and corporate legal departments.

“These internships will help our students be better prepared for their careers,” Jolly said. “Lawyers are leaders, and the more opportunities for success we can provide our law students, the better off our communities will be in the future."

For the purpose of the LCLD program, Jolly said diversity also carries a socioeconomic definition, not simply an ethnic one. He said WVU found that aspect of the program beneficial because, in a state where there are relatively small traditional minority populations, the LCLD program is broad enough to also include law students from Appalachia. He said the WVU law school’s mission includes a commitment to serving the residents of Appalachia.

“This initiative is about educating tomorrow’s lawyers while ensuring that diversity in the legal profession mirrors the diversity of our society,” Jolly said.

Rising second-year law student Tia McClenney is the only WVU law student currently participating in the LCLD program. Jolly said the mentoring program will begin in the fall, and 10 students will be paired with their mentors when that component of the program begins.

Through the LCLD program, McClenney was awarded an internship this summer to work at the firm of McGuireWoods LLP and in the legal department of PNC Financial in Pittsburgh.

“I absolutely love it,” McClenney told The West Virginia Record. “I am working on pro bono, litigation and transactional matters."

McClenney said the professors at the WVU law school have left her well-prepared for the work she has been assigned during her internship, and the partners she has worked with in the internship have given her opportunities to talk with them about the fields in which she is most interested.

“I have already learned tremendously while being here … I am also under great leadership,” McClenney said. “It is obvious that my supervisors want me to succeed, and they take time to make sure I accomplish just that.”

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