CLARKSBURG — The West Virginia Bar Association is hosting a networking event later this month that doubles as a continuing legal education credit event.
"This will be a networking and program event to highlight and honor the judicial system and also build camaraderie between attorneys and judges throughout the state," WVBA Executive Director Tessa M. White said in an interview with The West Virginia Record. "We will have a networking portion at the beginning and end of the event so attendees can meet and talk with one another."
White said the March 26 program will feature Clarksburg Mayor Catherine Goings, West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Beth Walker, West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Tim Armstead and U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Kleeh. It will take place at The Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center in Clarksburg.
White said the program portion will last one hour and attendees will receive CLE credits for West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, as needed.
"We would like for participants to leave the event with a positive experience, meet new colleagues and make new connections," White said.
White said the West Virginia Bar Association, which is separate from the West Virginia State Bar, hosts various events similar to this throughout the year in order to promote positive relationships in the legal community.
"We typically offer CLE credits at our events so lawyers can attend and receive more than just a social and business networking experience," White said. "The program highlights the direction of the West Virginia Supreme Court with a new beginning, the legislative process and the Senate confirmation process."
White said due to recent events, there has been a lot of negativity surrounding the judicial system in both West Virginia and the United States.
"We would like to maintain a positive outlook of the judicial system and assist in public perception to show that a few bad apples shouldn’t spoil the whole bunch," White said. "We have also invited WVU law students to attend at no charge so that they can add this positive experiential learning event to assist in supplementing their educational experience."
White said at the event, Goings will provide openings remarks, Walker will discuss the direction of the state Supreme Court with a new beginning, Armstead will discuss the legislative process and Kleeh will discuss the Senate confirmation process.
"We will also allow time for a Q&A session," White said. "We would like to maintain this as a positive, forward-looking event, not dwell on past behaviors of others, and move forward with a fresh outlook with the judicial system."
White said she believes the event will help bar members and judges connect after a chaotic year in the West Virginia legal system.
"Even without past negative actions of others, attending these networking events is a very easy way to connect with other lawyers and judges," White said. "Networking is one of the fundamental keys to succeeding in business."
White said attending these events provides more facetime with colleagues and judges, promotes positive relationships, makes applying for a job easier and makes working on opposite sides of a lawsuit so much easier.
"A young lawyer should be much less nervous standing in front of a judge in a courtroom if he or she has already met that judge and shared a meal with that judge," White said. "West Virginia is a small state, and the more people you know in a positive way, the further you can develop your personal and professional career."
White said they expect to have between 75 and 100 people attend the event.
"While we are primarily promoting this event to attorneys and those in the legal community, this event is open to the public," White said. "The event is free for members of The West Virginia Bar Association. Attendees who are not members of The West Virginia Bar Association only pay $10."
White said the bar association is able to provide the low cost due to the support of its sponsors: Title Sponsor Frost Brown Todd; Gold Sponsor Jackson Kelly; and Silver Sponsors Peyton Law Firm, Dinsmore & Shohl; Adams, Fisher & Chappell, Steele Law Office, Cooper Law Offices and Spilman Thomas & Battle.
White said the bar association organization also hosted two Supreme Court candidate forums in mid-October to provide the general public with an objective educational platform for the candidates.
"We will continue to offer events like this and other networking and CLE events throughout the year," White said.
White said the bar association also has a Real Estate conference at Stonewall Jackson Resort in May and the annual meeting at Oglebay Resort in August.