Elbert Lin, solicitor general for the Office of the West Virginia Attorney General, grew up as a “stereo-typically good math student” and hated to read.
As a first-generation American within a family who immigrated to the United States from Taiwan, he claims that his sole reference point to what a lawyer did came from the 1992 classic, My Cousin Vinny.
“Not typical of a law student,” said Lin.
He shared the “hows” and “whys” of taking his current position as solicitor general with members of Regent University School of Law’s Federalist Society for their spring introduction meeting on Monday, January 23.
As a graduate of Yale Law School, Lin’s career has taken on several iterations throughout the years – including work as a United States Supreme Court clerk and a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice.
But throughout the turns of his career, he said his work as solicitor general is by far his favorite. Much of his role entails overseeing the Office of Attorney General’s appellate practice, legal opinions and federal litigation. His presence is a signal to the courts that the state “takes appeals seriously as a general matter and that certain cases are particularly important.”
“They feel like someone is minding the shop. I’ve been told by a number of state supreme court justices that they appreciate my presence there,” said Lin. “It’s a thrill to stand up and say, ‘I’m here on behalf of the state of West Virginia’…you feel like you’re making a difference.”
First and foremost, he advised students to do well in their current jobs and avoid making the mistake of planning too far ahead. He encouraged students to continue developing their practical skills, to “write, write, write and write some more,” learn the skills of appellate law and to pursue clerkship.
Additionally, he encouraged students to be prepared to work outside of New York or the District of Colombia, and to always “go to work for the people,” rather than for the work itself.
“I love what I do,” said Lin. “I can honestly say that I love my job 100 percent of the time. Every day I’m excited about going to work, because everything that we do, no matter how small, is meaningful to someone in the state somewhere.”
By Brett Wilson Tubbs