CHARLESTON – Bowles Rice, one of the state’s leading law firms, has hired Keith Burdette, former Cabinet Secretary for the West Virginia Department of Commerce, as the firm’s business development director. He started Feb. 1.
Burdette brings years of business experience to the position. For many years, Burdette’s professional efforts focused on developing business relationships beneficial to the state of West Virginia. During the administration of former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Burdette served as executive director of the West Virginia Development Office and chairman of the West Virginia Development Authority and the Jobs Investment Trust.
Burdette felt Bowles Rice was the right place for him, primarily because of his relationships with the attorneys in the firm.
“It just seemed like a natural fit," he told The West Virginia Record. "Because I’ve been in and out of state government for a long time, I’ve known a lot of the principals here at Bowles Rice for a long, long time. They are great people. I’ve known some of the folks in this firm since I was a young man. I’ve got the greatest respect for them and what they’ve accomplished.”
Burdette told The West Virginia Record that Bowles Rice has many connections with the state of West Virginia, and more.
“They have a very broad-based practice in a lot of areas. They are well-connected not only with existing businesses, but some small businesses as well. They represent a lot of international companies,” he said.
Burdette focuses on bringing new business to the firm, using skills honed during his years in politics.
“Doing business development here, I would argue that the bulk of that work is simply relationships – cultivating them and expanding them. I did business development for the state of West Virginia as Secretary of Commerce. I have spent a huge amount of time building relationships with companies and individuals and business leaders across the state, folks in the private sector and folks in the public sector. This is an extension of what I’ve been doing, just on a slightly smaller scale. I’m still doing relationship building.”
Bowles Rice has offices in six cities in West Virginia (Charleston, Martinsburg, Morgantown, Parkersburg, Wheeling and Winchester) and in Southpointe, Pennsylvania. They practice in 19 different areas of law, including government relations, health care, and labor and employment.
“They’ve got a pretty broad reach. The firm was just named West Virginia Firm of the Year by Benchmark Litigation,” said Burdette. “It’s a very broad-based practice doing a lot of different things. They have a big litigation practice in all of their offices.”
Coal is a big part of West Virginia’s business community and Bowles Rice is part of that. Burdette notes that “this region is a very big energy-producing region and the firm has a very large energy practice.”
A native of Parkersburg, Burdette was actually born in Charleston, but has lived in Parkersburg since he was 12. He is accustomed to the commute to Charleston.
“It’s about an hour and 15 minutes from here. I have commuted for the better part of 20 years. I’ve spent the last six years commuting to the capital, so it is not a big deal.”