MORGANTOWN – Clayton “C.J." Reid graduated from West Virginia University College of Law in May after amassing a school record-setting 840 hours of pro bono work during his tenure as a law student.
“Those hours will hopefully help me get to where I want to be in the future and were a great opportunity to network with people in the field I want to pursue,” Reid told The West Virginia Record.
Reid said he aspires to be a prosecutor in the future, and doing pro bono work for the U.S. Attorney’s Office “confirmed for me that it is the career path I want to seek.
“An internship with a government agency is not likely to pay you like a big law firm internship would, so you are really agreeing to work there because it is the work that interests you and it is what you want to do, not because you will make money doing it,” Reid said.
The first summer he did pro bono work, Reid worked for now-acting U.S. Attorney Betsy Jividen. While working with Jividen, Reid said he especially enjoyed his time helping federal prisoners prepare for re-entry back into society.
“Getting to meet with and talk to inmates was a great experience because it helped me realize most of them are just people who made mistakes,” Reid said. “I wish more law students, especially ones who were thinking about going into prosecution, would have the experience I had meeting these inmates. I think it would provide them with a very different perspective.”
During his second summer of pro bono work, Reid worked under Criminal Division Chief Randy Bernard at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Virginia.
“That was very exciting for me because I got to work on criminal cases, which is what I ultimately want to do,” Reid said.
Reid also said he hopes his pro bono experiences may help dispel a myth that pro bono and “public interest” legal work is limited to legal clinics and public defender’s offices.
“While those positions are very important, working in the field of prosecution is often not looked at as public interest work, but I think it should be,” he said. “Prosecutors play a very important role in our justice system, and 99.9 percent of them are good people who are seeking justice for their community. That is a public interest that I think is often times ignored.”
Now that he has graduated from law school, Reid will be serving as a law clerk for two years for federal district Judge John Preston Bailey in Wheeling. After that, he hopes to enter his preferred field of prosecution.
Reid received his undergraduate degree in American legal studies with a minor in terrorism studies from the U.S. Military Academy. After graduating from West Point, he served in the U.S. Army as a military police officer for more than five years, with one tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Reid is originally from Fredericksburg, Virginia.