The West Virginia Fund for Law in the Public Interest is a non-profit organization which funds summer fellowships for WVU College of Law students at public-interest entities throughout the state.
Since its inception in 1987, the Fund has sponsored hundreds of Fellows in furtherance of its twofold mission: to enhance the quality of legal services afforded low-income West Virginians, including children, the elderly, and victims of domestic violence; and to help students achieve a deeper appreciation for the importance of public-interest work.
West Virginia residents may obtain a summary of the registration and financial documents from the Secretary of State, State Capitol, Charleston, WV 25305.
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.
Post Grad Fellows
Karissa Blackburn is a 2019 graduate of the West Virginia University College of Law from Baisden, West Virginia. She is spending her time as a Post-Graduate Fellow with the Kanawha County Public Defender’s Office in Charleston, WV. Prior to law school, Karissa received a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from West Virginia University in 2013. As a news reporter, she spent her time traveling throughout Appalachia before returning to school in 2016 to pursue her passion in law. Karissa’s background as a journalist is one of her greatest strengths as an advocate because she understands that people’s stories are their most powerful tools. During law school, Karissa served as President of the West Virginia Fund for Law in the Public Interest, Class Senator for the Student Bar Association, and Captain of WVU Law’s 2019 Jessup International Moot Court team. She embraces every opportunity to improve her advocacy skills and was inducted into the 2019 class of Order of Barristers—a national honorary organization that recognizes exceptional skill in trial advocacy, oral advocacy, and brief writing. Recently, Karissa worked with the West Virginia Innocence Project where her team successfully worked to overturn one client’s wrongful conviction and to continue the fight for many others. She also served southern West Virginians and as a 2018 Sprouse Fellow in Princeton, WV where she appeared as counsel for indigent defendants.
Madison Moritz was one of the recipients of the 2019 Post Graduate Fellowships. Madison graduated summa cum laude from West Virginia University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and began attending WVU College of Law the following semester. During her time at WVU Law, she served as President of the Women’s Leadership Council, Vice President of the Public Interest Advocates, Senior Managing Editor of the Family Law Quarterly, and a member of the Child and Family Advocacy Clinic. Madison was also a recipient of the National Association of Women Lawyers Outstanding Law Student Award and the Patrick Duffy Koontz Award. Madison will use her fellowship to spend a year working at Legal Aid and looks forward to the opportunity to use her law degree to serve the people of West Virginia.
Courtney Klus (alumni feature)
After my post-graduate fellowship, where I focused on serving kinship caregivers in West Virginia, I transitioned into my role as the Victims of Crime Act staff attorney in August 2018. I now provide legal services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. I provide help in the more traditional sense through legal advice and representation in domestic cases, the majority being divorce and custody. However, I also assist victims of crimes in navigating the criminal justice system. Frequently, I receive referrals for clients seeking help with a domestic issue while there is also an ongoing criminal case against their abuser. I can help act as a liaison between the victim, law enforcement, and prosecutors offices to ensure the flow of information and to help the victim stay updated on what is happening with the criminal case.