Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Telescope

September 8, 2012

Embracing the mountains

McGough goes from LSU to dean at Appalachian School of Law

GRUNDY, Va. — When Lucy McGough first traveled to the campus of the Appalachian School of Law as a member of the American Bar Association’s Law School Accreditation Committee in 2006, she was impressed by what she saw in the close-knit Southwest Virginia community.

However, at the time, she never envisioned herself living in the small town of Grundy, or one day working as the dean of the law school.

“The starting place is probably a committee I chaired in 2006 for the American Bar Association,” McGough said of her journey that took her from Louisiana State University to the Appalachian School of Law. “When a law school applies for accreditation — obviously the American Bar Association is the accrediting agency. So when the ADA accredits a school, its graduates can take the bar in any jurisdiction. If you want to go anywhere, you have to have ABA accreditation. So the bar has a team of educators and judges and lawyers, and mixed teams that go to a site and reports on whether or not they believe a site should be accredited or re-accredited. I came to Appalachian and fell in love with it. It’s a small community of faculty who care that students learn. It’s a very closely knit, intellectual and personal community. I thought it was extraordinary. I did recommend approval, and it was fully accredited in 2006.”

At the time, she returned to LSU, but with fond memories of the Appalachian School of Law.

“My husband — who was also a colleague on the LSU faculty — and I decided we needed to be refreshed by spending a semester at another law school,” McGough said. “So we started looking.”

One school the couple considered visiting for a semester was the Appalachian School of Law.

“So I wrote a letter, asking if there was any possibilities for visiting in the fall of 2012,” she said. “We didn’t hear back (from the law school). So I said — well that’s that. But then they called and said — ‘no we don’t have any offerings, but would you like for you to be dean,’ which was totally different from what I thought about doing. I was just going to come here and teach.”

McGough accepted the position, and became the new dean of the Appalachian School of Law in July.

Going from LSU to the small Southwest Virginia law school was a significant but welcomed change for McGough.

“It’s a significant difference,” she said. “Both are lovely places, but both are very, very different. We have a much larger student body at LSU. It’s a state school. Appalachian of course is private. We never had a pot luck dinner (at LSU), and I’ve had four since I’ve been here.”

The small town atmosphere in Grundy surprised McGough.

“From my personal experience, there was a dog in the backyard of a house in which we lived in, and I was worried somebody had just dumped the dog off,” she said. “I talked to a security guard, who not only knew who the dog belonged too, which was a law student, but also knew where the dog lived. And that never would have happened at LSU or anywhere else I lived.”

Although she has only been in town for a couple of months, McGough likes what she sees.

“So far it’s been all good,” she said. “I think Grundy is an amazing place, and Buchanan County for starting a law school. I can’t think of any other law school where the idea for the law school begins in the community.”

Since moving to Grundy, McGough has been busy both at the law school, and in the community.

“I’ve been to four churches, and four pot lucks,” she said. “I’ve joined the women’s club and I go to Walmart at least four times a week.”

Founded in 1994, the law school also helped to pave the path for a new pharmaceutical school in Grundy, and now a new optometry school also in Grundy. The law school currently has 300 students enrolled. Classes began late last month.

The students at the law school are coming from 26 different states. However, the majority of those who enroll at the Appalachian School of Law come from the six state area of Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

McGough said the majority of the students who graduate from the law school stay in the Appalachian region. However, others will end up moving outside of the six-state region.

“Some are in New York and some are in Texas,” she said. “Which I think helps to spread information about Appalachia. But the majority stay in the same Appalachian region. Most of them I would say are either in small practice or public service — prosecutors, defense counsels or government officials. Five Commonwealth attorneys in Virginia are alumni (of the Appalachian School of Law).”

McGough is hoping to see the law school grow in the months and years ahead. She also hopes to build upon the  existing externship program at the law school while also exploring partnerships with the regional community college system.

“There are many opportunities for growth because we are so young,” she said. “So that’s very exciting.”

McGough also hopes to see the Natural Resources Law Center open on the campus of the law school within the next two years.

“The Natural Resources Law Center is a response again to the community, and the energy investment,” McGough said. “Not just coal, but all types of energy. So we have already established the center, and we even have a building for the center. We hope to be able to attract lawyers who come for short courses and science majors who might want to capture their scientific background and specialize in this highly specialized  corner of the law. Many schools have created specialties. Our natural specialty is natural resources.”

“In the meantime, we are holding classes on natural resources topics,” Karen Harvey, director of institutional development at the Appalachian School of Law, added. “We are also working with the folks doing a symposium, and doing another clinic.”

McGough comes to Grundy with her husband professor James Bowers, four dachshunds and seven children.

“They (the children) are spread out everywhere and there is not a lawyer in the bunch,” she said.

McGough received her J.D. with distinction in 1966 from Emory University Law School and was elected to the Bryan Society (Order of the Coif). She received her LL.M. in 1971 from Harvard University School of Law. She taught at LSU for more than 25 years prior to coming to Appalachian School of Law. While at LSU, she taught criminal justice, family law, trusts and estates, and juvenile law seminar. She co-taught the Juvenile Defense Representation Clinic at LSU in which third-year law students represent real juveniles in the East Baton Rouge Juvenile Court, according to her biography. She also was engaged in work in connection with the LSU’s MacArthur Foundation grant to create a model juvenile defense clinic that can be adapted by other American law schools. While at LSU, she was very active in law reform work, serving among other responsibilities, as the reporter of the Children’s Code Advisory Committee to the State Law Institute and as a member of the state public defender board. She previously sat as a member of the ABA Law School Accreditation Committee and currently is a member of the ABA Committee charged with producing a new set of accreditation standards for American law schools. McGough also has authored or co-authored more than 10 books and 49 law review articles.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

1
Text Only
Telescope
  • Randy Phillips 1 A heart for service

    In the film noir gangster movies, guys who did the kind of work that Randolph “Randy” Phillips did would be called, “Screw,” a name for a prison guard that comes from the shackles that bound prisoners more than a century ago. But during 32 years of service with the Virginia Department of Corrections, Phillips, now 63, and retired, worked to help the inmates under his supervision work to straighten their lives out and become productive citizens.

    July 26, 2014 3 Photos

  • Pam Meade Giving back to the community

    When Pam Meade retired after 26 years in the banking business, she worked in her garden, traveled, and did all the other things that a lack  of time didn’t allow. The novelty started wearing off when her second year of retirement arrived, so she started looking for more to do and found a new purpose when the Tazewell Area Chamber of Commerce needed a new executive director.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Original marriage of the Bluefields Celebrating historic union

     All prospective brides and grooms feel excited as the appointed hour for the exchange of their wedding vows moves ever closer, but for Stephanie Muncy of Nemours and Cody Woodall of Springville, Va., the excitement is almost mach one — the speed of sound.

    July 12, 2014 3 Photos

  • Richard Smith 1 From Hot Wheels to classics...

    Years ago when they were boys, Richard Smith and his brother Roger watched as the men in their families worked with muscle cars and hot rods. They had their Hot Wheels toys to play with, but then they grew up and got their own big cars. Now Richard Smith and other enthusiasts are working to share their passion for cars.

    July 5, 2014 2 Photos

  • Hankins Telescope 1 ‘I love it, it’s in my blood’

    June 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Florida Georgia Line Ready to party

    June 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • IMG_0941.JPG Jake’s Grocery: A point of stability in McDowell County

    In a world of constant change, Jake’s Grocery has been a point of stability for decades. Economic downturns and floods have challenged owner Jacob T. Potter and his wife Carol Sue, but with help from above, the small store in McDowell County has stayed open to see its 45th anniversary.

    June 7, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lasker  Telescope 1 Looking back on life

    In less than a month Dr. Bruce Lasker, 68, of Bluefield, will be cleaning out his office, while reminiscing about the last 38 years. As an OB/GYN, Lasker has been delivering babies in the two Virginias since 1976. He delivered his last baby in April and will retire officially on June 30.

    May 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Wikle Telescope 1 Combining two loves

    Princeton resident Stan Wikle, 60, knows and loves gospel music. He also likes planning events. So in 1995, he combined his two loves to create Stan Wikle gospel Promotions, a business that brings national Christian artists to local venues in the two Virginias.

    May 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • Weiss Telescope 1 Determined spirit

    April 26, 2014 2 Photos

Lifestyles