WV Fund for Law in the Public Interest
The West Virginia Fund for Law in Public Interest is a non-profit organization that works to fund fellowships for WVU College of Law students to spend the summer working in public interest organizations throughout West Virginia. Founded in 1987, the fund seeks to help students gain a deeper understanding of the grave importance of public interest work. These students provide legal services to help West Virginians, including the elderly, the poor, children, and victims of domestic violence.
The Fund for the Public Interest consists of the board directors: one faculty member; two attorneys working for the Public Interest; and six students – three second year and three third year students. The Fund meets quarterly to discuss future programs and current initiatives.
Public Interest Advocates (PIA)
The PIA is a student organization at the WVU College of Law that works closely with the Fund to help facilitate the candidate selection process. This organization supports the fund by conducting fund raising activities throughout the year, including raffles, online textbook sales, a benefit concert each semester at 123 Pleasant Street, and the annual Spring Auction.
The Fund awards PIA fellowships annually to West Virginia College of Law students through a competitive selection process. Since its inception, over 350 students have received fellowships at public interest organizations. These include Legal Aid of West Virginia, Senior Legal Aid of West Virginia, Mountain State Justice, the Public Defender’s Office, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, West Virginia Advocates, and ChildLaw Services, Inc.
The Sprouse Public Defender Fellowship is particularly competitive and students apply in the fall to be awarded this opportunity. One student who is awarded the Sprouse fellowship will work with a state public defender and the other with a federal public defender.
The Charon Fellowship is a new PIA fellowship that has been created in honor of the late Regina Charon, Esq. This fellowship, established by Regina’s husband Nyles, honors Regina’s legacy as a legal services attorney. This fellowship will be awarded annually to a student who will be employed at one of the branch offices of Legal Aid of West Virginia.
Loan Repayment Assistance Program
Law school graduates are faced with rising education debt. Even the most dedicated are unable to take lower-paying public interest jobs. Recognizing the importance of law student debt relief, the Fund started a Loan Repayment Assistance Program to ensure that WVU College of Law graduates will be financially able to pursue careers in public interest. The program covers the educational debt payments of bright, energetic, and talented WVU College of Law graduates who enter public interest employment in West Virginia.