With those words, “I can’t help but smile”, Joseph Lavigne expressed his feelings upon his release from prison to parole after serving 20 years for a crime for which he maintained his innocence throughout. Joseph was a client of the Innocence Project at the WVU College of Law—-in the photo above, he is surrounded by his family and law student members of the Project upon his release from prison.
The Innocence Project is one of nine clinics at the Law School where law students receive actual practical legal experience to better prepare them for their varied careers as members of the legal profession. In Joseph’s case, the law students prepared a binder of information for the WV Parole Board, a letter to the Board and a statement they read orally.
Begun more than 30 years ago by Professor Marjorie McDiarmid, a WV Bar Foundation Board of Directors member, the clinic program has grown from one project and a handful of law students to the nine current projects involving thousands of hours of legal services each year. After a vast remodeling of the clinic space at the College of Law in Morgantown, a regional office was initiated in the past two years in southern West Virginia at WVU’s new campus in Beckley. Law students travel to Beckley where they can better assist clients in that underserved, economically challenged part of the state.
As stated by Hannah West, a law student participant in the Innocence Project after visiting clients at the Mt. Olive Correctional Center in Fayette County, “Not only has this been an invaluable experience for the student-attorneys, words cannot describe what these visits mean to our clients. They truly appreciate being able to be in the same room as their legal team.”
A large Bar Foundation grant was provided to support the innovative southern clinic in Beckley, with the grant receiving special recognition from the National Conference of Bar Foundations and Lexis Nexis.
Appreciation is expressed to Jennie James, Assistant Dean for Development at the College of Law, and to WVUToday for the above photo and information.
The utmost gratitude goes to YOU for supporting the Bar Foundation and its grants program!

Only two slots are still available for the seventh annual leadership training program for the next generation of lawyer leaders in West Virginia—the Lawyer Leadership Institute—which will be held on May 18-20, 2018, at Stonewall Resort near Weston.
This year’s Institute Sponsor is Antero Resources Corporation.
The Institute’s objective is to provide newer lawyers with specific education and professional training that will enable them to become leaders in the legal profession, in their communities and in the State.
During the past six years, younger lawyers from all parts of the state and all types of law practice have participated in these Institutes. They have been overwhelming successes with the 2017 attendees making such comments as:
• Enjoyed the accessibility of all of the speakers and their thoughtfulness and willingness to answer questions.
• This really gave me a lot to think about.
• The small group is great.
• This was a very unique learning experience.
• I think all of the presentations had value and the speakers were outstanding.
• As someone who has not been in practice long, I especially enjoyed interacting with judges and longtime practitioners.
• Great for interaction with speakers and other young lawyers.
• Outstanding speakers and well organized.
This year, participation in the Institute will be limited again to twelve newer lawyers (admitted to the practice of law for ten years or less) who will have the opportunity to learn from outstanding members of the judiciary and the legal profession regarding education and professional training that will enable them to become leaders in the legal profession, in their communities and in the State. They will receive expert presentations on service skills, leadership traits, professionalism and civil discourse through participation in interactive sessions, networking opportunities and interpersonal relationship building in an informal atmosphere.
The cost remains at $499 per person which includes two nights lodging at Stonewall Resort, five meals, and all materials, as well as application has been made for twelve hours of continuing legal education credits, with at least three hours of legal ethics credits.
Please contact Tom Tinder NOW to make your reservations—(304)-343-9823, tom@wvbarfoundation.org or WV Bar Foundation, P. O. Box 4845, Charleston, WV 25364.
The Institute is the premier leadership training program for younger WV lawyers!

The Bar Foundation’s Board of Directors will hold its quarterly meeting on Thursday, June 7, at 12:00 Noon, by telephone conference call.
The Annual Meeting of the organization will occur immediately following the conclusion of the Board meeting.