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Attacking Morrisey’s guy is wrong

We West Virginians can be stubbornly provincial at times. Just consider a bill introduced by Delegate Doug Reynolds, D-Wayne.

The legislation, House Bill 2788, says that any lawyer hired by the state and paid more than $100,000 "shall have a license to practice law in the state at the time of the hire."

The bill is clearly aimed at Elbert Lin, who newly elected Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey hired as his solicitor general. Lin, who is not from West Virginia, does not yet have a state law license.

Reynolds told the Charleston Gazette that any high-paid attorney hired by the state should be able to hit the ground running.

"The people we hire for a job, they need to be able to do the job from day one," said Reynolds.

Wait a minute. Let's look at Lin's credentials.

He graduated from Yale Law School, which is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the No. 1 law school in the country. He was editor of the Yale Law Review.

Lin clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, also a Yale grad. He has practiced law in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts and has worked as a trial attorney with the U.S. Justice Department.

My guess is that even though Lin does not yet have all the paperwork, he could hold his own today with most of the esteemed members of the West Virginia Bar.

Oh, and Lin, whose current salary is $132,000, took a pay cut of about two-thirds to come to our state.

So for the moment, Lin will not be able to call himself a West Virginia lawyer and his duties may be somewhat limited, but that will change soon.

 All Lin has to do is undergo a background check and pass what amounts to an ethics exam.  I'm told he'll get that done in another month or two.

Frankly, West Virginia could use some fresh blood. Too often our state, which continually suffers from an outward migration of talented people, settles into comfortable cronyism.

Over time, that breeds the belief that if you're not from here, we can't completely trust you.  Whether we realize it or not, that creates a hostile atmosphere that is not conducive to the growth of our state.

And now, trying to pass a frivolous law that takes direct aim at a legitimate hire by a constitutional officer of the state can only fuel that hostility.

I don't know Elbert Lin, but his resume looks pretty good, and I'm looking forward to hearing from him.

Who knows? We might just learn something.

Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.


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