Three Potomac State Students Learn What It Takes to Practice Law

Summer Law Institute

Three Potomac State College of West Virginia University students recently participated in WVU's Summer Law Institute held on the Morgantown Campus at the College of Law. Nick Goff, visiting criminal justice instructor, far left, nominated Charnelle Powell, Jessica Shanholtz and David Shoemaker. The three spent a week learning what is required to practice law and how to prepare for the Law School Admissions Test.

Three Potomac State College (PSC) students experienced law school up close and personal as participants in West Virginia University’s (WVU) Summer Law Institute that ran May 28 through June 2, 2013, in Morgantown, W.Va., through the College of Law.

The Summer Law Institute is a free program, including room and board, for eligible undergraduates considering a career in law. The full program takes place over two summers. In their first summer, Phase 1, students experience a one-week immersion at the WVU College of Law, followed by an opportunity to shadow lawyers and judges. In their second summer, Phase, 2, students focus on the law school admissions process for a week, including Law School Admission Test (LSAT) prep.

Jessica Shanholtz from Moorefield, W.Va.; Charnelle Powell, from Baltimore, Md. and David Shoemaker, from Keyser, W.Va. were nominated by PSC’s Visiting Criminal Justice Instructor Nicklaus Goff. In fact, Goff spent a large portion of his holiday break this winter helping these three students prepare applications for the opportunity, which is rather competitive because only 16 slots are available to freshmen and sophomores.

Goff, who graduated from WVU’s College of Law earning his Doctor of Jurisprudence in May 2010, pointed out that these three students met the requirements of academic success; an ability to set and achieve goals through careful planning and work ethic; and an interest in earning a law degree even though that degree might seem unattainable due to economic or other barriers.

Shanholtz and Powell participated in the Phase 1 classes that focused on the legal system, law school, the work that lawyers do, lawyering skills, leadership and professionalism. The week also gave them the opportunity to participate in a number of competitions related to lawyering skills studied during the week. By week’s end, Shanholtz had won overall best oralist while Powell claimed the title of best written briefs.

Powell says that the Summer Law Institute was very helpful to her. “I now know that I want to eventually go onto law school.” In the fall, she will attend WVU as a sophomore and major in accounting. She is the daughter of Cynthia and Devin Powell in Baltimore, Md.

Shanholtz said the week was very intense and strenuous but worth it. “I got about four hours of sleep each night because of staying up to prepare for the next day. I found the faculty to be so intelligent and educated but yet kind and down to earth and willing to help. This experience has definitely swayed me to want to attend law school.” Shanholtz is headed to the Morgantown campus in the fall where she will be a junior majoring in business administration. She is the daughter of Tom and Kathy Shanholtz in Annapolis, Md.

Both, Powell and Shanholtz plan to participate in Phase 2 next summer.

Shoemaker participated in Phase 2 classes which focused on preparing for the LSAT and the rigors and requirements of the law school admission process. He will be a senior this coming fall in PSC’s four-year criminal justice program from which he plans to graduate with his bachelor of applied science degree next spring. In the meantime, he will take the LSAT in October and he will submit his application to WVU’s College of Law next March. He is the son of David and Tonia Shoemaker, in Keyser, W.Va.

“The Summer Law Institute helps students gain confidence,” explained Goff. “Law school is no longer this mysterious entity – it’s a reality. The program doesn’t baby or coddle them, the program works them. In the end, students walk away knowing what law school wants and expects of them and the quality of work they, as students, are capable of producing.”