Appalachian School of Law Natural Resources Law Center Presents Jen Shaver

Appalachian School of Law’s Natural Resources Law Center will begin its Distinguished Speaker Series for 2016-2017. The goal of the Distinguished Speaker Series is to bring accomplished and knowledgeable legal practitioners to ASL to present multiple legal perspectives surrounding energy, the environment, and natural resources.

The series begins with a presentation by ASL Alumni Jen Shaver (’09). Ms. Shaver is a distinguished practicing litigator with the Virginia Gas Owners Litigation Group located in Abingdon, Virginia. She is also is a current practitioner at Shaver Law Office, PLLC.




Ms. Shaver received her undergraduate degree in Agricultural Sciences from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and her Masters of Studies in Environmental Law with a Concentration in Land Use at Vermont Law School before earning her Juris Doctorate from ASL in 2009.

Previously, Ms. Shaver has worked as an environmental research consultant for Downstream Strategies, the Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Russell County, and a law clerk for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Ms. Shaver’s presentation will focus on the class action litigation filed on behalf of thousands of gas owners in southwest Virginia. This litigation, over royalty payments that were withheld from them due to an ownership, arose from the 1990 Oil & Gas Act. The presentation will include the events that led up the filing of the class action lawsuit, and discuss the course of the litigation since that time.

This event is free and open to the public. It will take place in ASL’s Appellate Courtroom from 6:00-7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 19th. All are invited to attend!

ASL Welcomes Professor Rob Gregg!

Rob Gregg joined ASL after teaching for eleven years at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Law in South Florida. During his years at NSU, Prof. Gregg taught in all years of academic success and bar preparation, and also created and taught courses for the Master of Science in Employment Law program. He helped craft their renowned Critical Skills Program and has mentored more than 100 students through bar preparation. He will direct and teach in ASL’s academic success and bar preparation programs, and will also teach a doctrinal course in the Spring semester.

 Prof. Gregg graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law, where he was published in the International & Comparative Law Review. A member of the Florida and D.C. Bars, and admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, he has practiced as both a litigation and corporate attorney with the law firms Allen, Norton & Blue (in Coral Gables) and Ruden McClosky (in Fort Lauderdale), primarily in the areas of labor and employment law.

 Prof. Gregg worked for many years in state and county government administration prior to receiving his law degree. He was appointed by Florida Governor Jeb Bush to the State’s Affordable Housing Study Commission, and served as Chair of the Broward County Commission’s Homeless Advisory Board. He has served as a volunteer with the Florida Bar’s Justice Teaching program (in which he taught constitutional law principles to students at public schools), Legal Aid of Broward County with the Broward Christian Lawyers Association, and as a faculty co-advisor to the NSU chapter of the Christian Legal Society. A lifelong music fan, he plays multiple instruments, including the hammered dulcimer, mandolin, guitar, and bodhran. He has been ecstatically married for 20 years to his wife, Andrea, and they have three children.  


Official Communications, Official Consequences: A Look at Garcetti v. Ceballos, ABA Section of Litigation: Employment & Labor Relations Law, Vol. 5, No. 2 (2007).

The European Tendency Toward Non-Extradition to the United States in Capital Cases: Trends, Assurances, and Breaches of Duty, 10 U. Miami Int’l & Comp. L. Rev. 113 (2002).

ASL Welcomes Honorable Larry G. Elder!

The Honorable Larry G. Elder will be joining the Appalachian School of Law faculty this fall as a Distinguished Visiting Faculty member. Judge Elder received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Virginia Commonwealth University, and went on to receive his Juris Doctorate from the University of Richmond T.C. Williams School of Law.

Judge Elder began his professional career with a private law practice in Petersburg, Virginia. Shortly thereafter, he served as the County Attorney for Dinwiddie County. While serving in this role, Judge Elder was elected to serve as the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Dinwiddie County. After ten years as the Commonwealth Attorney, Judge Elder was elected as the Judge for the 11th District Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court. He served as Chief Judge of this court from 1990 to 1991.

In 1991, Judge Elder was elected by the Virginia General Assembly to serve as Court of Appeals Judge for the Commonwealth of Virginia. During his time on the bench, Judge Elder also served in the Virginia State Bar Family Law Board of Governors, the Judicial Compensation Retirement and Insurance Committee, and the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission. He retired from the Court of Appeals in September 2013 after twenty-two years of service. Afterwards, he acted as a consultant for the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Petersburg.

Judge Elder is married to Dr. Donna D. Elder, Ph.D., Clinical and School Psychologist. Together they have three children: Donald Lyle, an attorney for the Federal Corporation Commission in Washington D.C.; James Eric Lyle, an attorney and freelance writer based in Richmond, Virginia; and Lara Elizabeth Elder, a teacher in Dinwiddie County, Virginia.

Appalachian School of Law is thrilled to be welcoming such a distinguished and experienced legal professional to our family. Judge Elder will be teaching both Legal Process and Current Issues in Constitutional Law.

ASL Softball Teams Compete in Charlottesville


Two teams from ASL competed in the 33rd annual UVA-Law Softball Invitational. Over the course of a weekend the two teams played in 7 games with a combined record of 4-7. It was great to have the support of the ASL cheering squad in attendance at all of the games. Details of the games can be found below.


Ain’t Bein Flippant!

Ain’t Bein Flippant began the tournament with a hot start. They took a commanding lead early over Quinnipac Black and never looked back. With a final score of 25-3 the team began the cold weekend on a heater. The next game proved to be a much tougher matchup. Ain’t Bein Flippant drew the Camels from Campbell Law in the second game. What began as a very close contest ended up being another lopsided victory for ASL. A final score of 14-4 in favor of the Ain’t Bein Flippant squad. Early the next morning the ASL team was at it again. This victory proving to be the most resounding. ASL completed the sweep of their pool with a 41-0  victory over Norteastern Red. Moving quickly to bracket play, the Ain’t Bein Flippant team drew the hometown UVA-Law Co-Rec Blue team. The team from UVA jumped out to a fast start and the ASL Ain’t Bein Flippant team played catch up the rest of the game. After a valiant comeback effort, Ain’t Bein Flippant was ultimately defeated by a score of 19-14. This loss put an end to what was a promising start to the touranment for the team from ASL.

The Law Dawgs

The Law Dawgs did not fare as well in their pool play. With a final record of 1-2 the team from ASL played hard and took home a commanding victory of 23-8 against Catholic Black. While the Law Dawgs unfortunately did not make it into the bracket play, they played hard and represented ASL very well in their sportsmanship and effort. Even playing through a cold night game against Syracuse where megaphones ruled the evening.

ASL is proud of both of the teams that played in the event and look forward to next year’s tournament already. If you did not get the opportunity to play or make it out to watch and cheer our teams on please try to next year.

Also a very big thank you to Taylor Burgess for taking the photos and action shots!!

West VA House of Delegates Address ASL Students

Two members of the West Virginia House of Delegates addressed the student body at Appalachian School of Law on April 13. Kenneth Paul “Ken” Hicks, a Democratic member from District 19, first elected in 2014, and Justin J. Marcum, Democrat, representing District 20. Hicks and Marcum provided updates on recent WV legislation and spoke about their law firm experiences. Their talk focused on the areas of torts, conflict of laws, environmental, and natural resources.

Mr. Hicks received his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Toledo. He has worked as an attorney in general practice for 25 years and was the president of Cabell County Bar Association. At the beginning of the 2015 legislative session, Mr. Hicks served on the following committees: Banking and Insurance, Industry and Labor, Judiciary, and Pensions and Retirement. His son, Jared is currently a 1L student at Appalachian School of Law.

Mr. Marcum received his Juris Doctorate degree from Appalachian School of Law in 2011. In January 2012, he was appointed to the West Virginia House of Delegates to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the Hon. K. Steven Kominar. He was then elected to the House 2012-2014. He is an Attorney at Marcum Law Office; Associate Professor of Business Law at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College; Mingo County Assistant Prosecutor; and a small business owner.

Craig Copeland Presents Financial Strategy to ASL Students


IMG_7797On Wednesday, April 13th, Mr. Craig Copeland, Financial Representative of Northwestern Mutual of Johnson City, TN, gave a Financial Planning presentation for ASL students with a special focus on managing student debt. Topics included loan forgiveness programs, the relative risks and benefits of carrying student loan debt as opposed to other kinds of debt, and general wealth building strategies for young professionals.

Mr. Copeland can be reached at 423-283-9545 if you have any additional questions!

SBA Elects New Officers

On Wednesday, April 20th, the SBA performed a swearing in ceremony of the newly elected officials. Please enjoy the photos of this event! Good luck to all of our new Officers and Senators in the upcoming school year. We are confident you will accomplish great things.


President-Brett Hall


From R to L-Vice President-Grant Back, Secretary-Megan Barger, Treasurer-Annie Pagans


Chief Justice-David Pfeifer


Justice-Bill Perry


Justice-Michael Enroughty


Deputy Chief Justice-Kristin Roberts


Senators From L to R-Chris Porsenna, Kevin Slone, Ashley Case, Danielle Jessee, Steve Heneger, Jeremy Hurley

Stories of Freedom Concert and Encore Reception April 23

Symphony of the Mountains 2015-2016 Season has been filled with pieces paying homage to veterans both at home and abroad. Our “Stories of Freedom” Concert on Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 7:30pm at the Toy F. Reid Eastman Employee Center in Kingsport, TN is the culmination of our goal to honor men and women who have served their country.


This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. Because of these two extraordinarily significant events in the history of our country and the world, our season has paid tribute to those who have made sacrifices for freedom and celebrated the resulting peace.


We invite all of our veterans, both active and retired, to wear their uniforms and medals of honor so they may stand and be recognized during the concert.


Repertoire is:

  • Copland: Lincoln Portrait-Narrated by ASL’s Prof. Stewart Harris
  • Dvorak: A Hero’s Song, Op. 111
  • Bach: Dona nobis pacem from Mass in B Minor
  • Thompson: Testament of Freedom

Following the concert, we will have an Encore Reception to celebrate the close of another successful season. This will also be a time to learn about the exciting offerings Symphony of the Mountains has planned for their 2016-2017 season.


Tickets to the concert are $35 with active and retired military admitted free with their military ID. As with all Symphony of the Mountains subscription concerts, children and students admitted free. Group discounts for 10+ are available by calling the Symphony Box Office.


Encore Reception tickets are available for just $10 and the reception is sponsored by LongHorn Steakhouse of Kingsport.


To order your tickets, call Symphony of the Mountains Box Office at (423) 392-8423 or visit us on the web at

ASL Now Student Profile-Jason Fannin

Invariably, folks who don’t know me but are gifted with a keen sense of the obvious recognize I am a “non-traditional” student (a polite label meaning “older than the vast majority of the other students”). They ask when they learn I am about to complete law school, “don’t you wish you had done this earlier?”  Those who do know me always preface that question with, “are you crazy [leaving behind almost two decades’ worth of a successful coal industry career]?”  The answer to both questions is a resounding “no!”  I am thankful I had the foresight (or lack thereof) to avoid law school immediately following my undergrad schooling, and I have yet to be adjudicated mentally incompetent, though some may argue the fact.

Slot oven door off

Worker Monitoring Coke Oven

Had I attempted law school fresh off my four-year stint at college, I would have failed miserably – of that I am certain.  In elementary school and secondary school, I was in the TAG class – “Talented and Gifted.”  So talented and gifted in fact, I never learned how to read actively, take notes, study, or manage my time – very basic things for a law student, but skills I never learned through thirteen years of The Three R’s nor after four years of college and a double B.S. in chemical engineering and chemistry.

Besides a stellar introduction to tort law, the other valuable lesson I took from Intro to Law week during August 2013 was that succeeding in law school isn’t about how smart you are; it’s about how hard you are willing to work.  For the three years (or more, for some of us) of your legal education, stow away those regal pictures from Facebook © captioned “Work smarter, not harder.”  During law school, if you are not ready to devote yourself tirelessly to active reading, deliberate and thoughtful note taking, and studying, followed by some more reading, note taking, and studying, you may want to reevaluate your choice of how best to spend your siblings’ inheritance.

Having been taken with the idea of having a legal education, all was not lost for me, fortunately.  After college I took a sixteen-year detour from the academic byways to start both a family and a career.  My journey to the Appalachian School of Law actually began a little over eleven years before I ever stepped foot on its campus.  When news of the tragic shooting broke, I was working just over the state line in McDowell County, West Virginia for a producer and seller of niche specialty coals used all over the world (can one use ‘boutique’ and ‘coal’ in the same sentence?).   With an intensive job requiring my presence in the office from 6:00 a.m. until early evening and a wife and young daughter to support, not to mention a very ‘old-school’ boss, there was just no possibility of making it happen.  Having a masochistic penchant for exam taking, I did manage to stow away some practice LSAT exams under my computer keyboard and during any spare moments set my stopwatch and work through as many questions as possible before sliding them back under my keyboard.  That was as a close as I would come to ASL for over a decade.

Eleven years, two more daughters, a piecemeal meshing of coal companies, and four promotions later I found myself living in Abingdon.  My wife had been able to remain a homemaker since 2000 thanks to my employment in the coal industry.  In 2011 I had been promoted to Vice President of Metallurgical Sales – Europe for Alpha Coal Sales Co., LLC, the sort of position I had desired since starting in the coal industry in 1997.  The position allowed a person who had grown up in a small town in the coalfields of southern West Virginia with almost no connections to coal (which was really quite a feat considering my surroundings) to travel to the coalfields of Australia and Mexico, visit steel mills in Russia, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Austria, Italy and Mexico, and visit cities such as Lisbon, Madrid, Luxembourg, Helsinki, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Istanbul, Milan, Rome, Moscow, Vienna, and Sydney.

2012-03-05 Customers

Mr. Fannin and customers from Finland


I was introduced to many different cultures and the ins and outs of how to conduct business within each.  I’ve gotten to see DaVinci’s Last Supper, Moscow’s Red Square, the Sydney Opera House, enjoyed a traditional Swedish Christmas feast in Stockholm, visited the Sofia Haggia in Istanbul, and toured the Vatican in Rome.  Being a food lover, I’ve sampled reindeer in Finland, way too many varieties (Benjamin “Bubba” Blue would agree) of herring in Sweden, bear in Russia, horse in Italy, seafood that looked like alien life forms (still living, I’m fairly certain) in Portugal, and found the best steaks in the world in central Mexico.

The work was not all fun and glamour – it was exhausting and lonely, especially for a homebody like me.  With as many as thirteen or fourteen flight legs in one seven day trip, I rarely spent two nights in a row in the same country, and usually would visit at least one country during the week in which I only visited long enough for a meeting followed by lunch or dinner. Then I was back to the airport for the next flight.  The majority of my waking hours was spent either in airports or airplanes, with each jaunt usually bracketed by harrowing taxi rides (you haven’t truly lived until you ridden in taxi in Istanbul).  Due to the time difference, and my inability to sleep on planes, I would hit the ground running on Monday, heading to my first meeting of the week after having been awake for thirty hours or more.  Each day’s meeting would vary in intensity depending on the customer, their culture, and their agenda, but would always include several members on their side of the table and either only me or me and one of our in-country agents, which meant I was on my toes from arrival to departure and further meant that by the end of my entire trip I was mentally exhausted as well as physically spent.

Slot oven coke push

Slot Coke Oven in Alabama

Halfway through my tenure as Alpha’s ambassador to the European coke and steel producers, I began to think again about how I might be able to realize my fantasy of embarking on a legal education while still juggling family and work.  I quizzed some lawyers in my office as to their law school experiences, sought their advice on how crazy my idea seemed, and inquired as to whether they thought law school was for me.  In January of 2013, I placed a phone call to ASL and with no introduction or prefatory comments, inquired as to whether they had a part-time JD program, only to find out there was not.  A bit dejected, I spoke with one of my lawyer friends at Alpha who gave me the name of her former colleague who taught at ASL. She urged me to visit with him and discuss exactly what I wanted to do and how both I and the school could benefit from my enrollment.

In February 2013, I made my first visit to ASL’s campus in order to meet with Professor Pat Baker.  Professor Baker was excited to meet with me and had arranged a campus tour as well as a visit to the admissions office.  By April I was admitted, pending a satisfactory showing on the LSAT which I would not take until July.  I attended the ASL Open House in June and remember being very impressed with not only the professors, but also the other prospective students.  By the second week of August 2013, I was arriving for the start of Intro week along with the other members of the Class of 2016.  Fortunately for me, those sixteen years spent in the coal business helped me develop and hone the same skills required to succeed in law school, though I didn’t know it yet.

Take meaningful notes and use them make worthwhile outlines

When I first got involved in coal sales as part of a larger company (14,000+ employees at its largest) I quickly realized there was more going on than I could keep straight simply by participating in meetings and conference calls.  We sold numerous coal brands and qualities to more than thirty-three countries on five continents.  I learned the value in maintaining dated logbooks of about one hundred pages each.  When one ended I would begin another, and kept them all for posterity.  My logbooks would travel with me to the mines and preparation plants one week and then to Europe the next.  They became invaluable sources of information about everything from production swings and quality issues to seemingly innocuous customer statements which could be of utmost importance during later contract disputes.  I became a voracious note-taker; too late to buoy my undergrad GPA but just in time to begin my law school experience.

I retain a tremendous amount of information from writing it down.  For me, taking notes of the pertinent issues brought out in the casebook reading or class discussion helped me synthesize what I needed to take from the reading and accompanying lecture.  I don’t write repetitively – just the one time when I first heard it or read it, when was freshest in my mind.  I would date and number my note pages just as I did my old coal logbooks.  Then, when it came time to start and update my outline, it was simple and easy to methodically pull out the most important pieces of information with which to build upon.  Outlines can be had from numerous sources – subscription services, blogs or websites, classmates, etc.  Don’t use other people’s or premade outlines – you’ll be surprised how much you’ll retain just from building your own outline before you ever actually sit down to study it.  Using another’s outline can be fatal to your course grade without knowing why certain facts of this case were important or exactly why this diagram branches as it does.  Crunch-time before finals is not the time to reverse engineer someone else’s outline.

Choose Study Groups Wisely and Watch Out for Time Wasters

I started out with a small coal company with a corporate office of ten people.  We each had multiple responsibilities besides our primary function.  If one person was slacking, the whole office felt it and felt it quickly.  At the time I left the industry, there were still 150+ people in the corporate office I inhabited for almost twleve years.  I’ll never forget when, during a management roundtable discussion of how to regain the efficiency of a nimbler company, a colleague pointed out that certain groups within the corporate hierarchy existed solely based on circular work that began and ended with that group and did nothing to facilitate the business of the company.  These groups would find problems that didn’t exist, create committees to tackle the “problems,” engage (i.e. bog down) other groups to assist them with confronting these problems, until such time as the problem faded away or the group latched on to some other issue du jour.

Study groups can be great.  Particularly during the first year of law school, when I think many students need camaraderie and peer support just as much as they need a good night’s sleep.  I learn well by explaining or teaching to a small group.  Some students learn well by asking questions in a student-group setting without fear of Socrates himself discharging lighting from his fingertips or John Houseman from The Paper Chase causing the loss of one’s breakfast after having recited the facts of The Hairy Hand case.  Personally I spent very little time in study groups during law school since I commuted from one and a half hours away and had family and work to tend to outside of school.  I did notice that many of my classmates began to shun study groups following the 1L year.  I think once folks have made it through (or decided law school was not for them during) the 1L year, they find their own groove and what works best for them in terms of absorbing and retaining knowledge.  No doubt some study groups can become well-oiled machines with the right cast of characters.  Be careful with whom you allot your precious time and make certain that you are getting the most out of that time.  Develop a keen eye for quickly recognizing the time wasters around you and steer clear of those folks.  You don’t want to be strapped into the seat behind them when they crash and burn.   Your waking hours are priceless – be sure to allocate your time to the most pressing topics and complete those before small issues become big ones.

Treat Law School Like a Job

I must have heard that line a dozen times during Intro Week.  I had been a workaholic so long I had unfortunately begun to treat life like a job.  For those fresh out of undergrad, the true meaning of that may be a bit amorphous.  Show up for class as you would work.  Set a schedule for each day of the week and stick to it – don’t sleep in on Wednesday just because your first class isn’t until 11:00 a.m.  Live by the calendar app – schedule every day like a workday, but be sure schedule in some time for you and your family.  It will do you no good to overwhelm yourself from the get-go – keep it light and study in short bursts to avoid spending 4 hours on a topic only to find you retained maybe 10% of what you just studied.  Mixing it up keeps your mind limber and anticipating change.

Easy enough, right?  I would suggest you take the school/job analogy a few steps further.  Workplaces aren’t democracies and neither is law school.  You’ll have some professors whom you may not care for personally and some classes which may not interest you in the least.  Those aren’t licenses to disrespect the professor or zone out during class.  I am a firm believer that every experience you encounter can be learned from and built upon.  It took me fourteen years to reach the position in the coal industry that I had striven to attain since the late 90s.  I took more than a couple of job assignments not because I would enjoy them (a couple I downright despised the entire time), but because I knew they were bridges leading to what I wanted to achieve and they had to be crossed.  Your professor is the boss and your grades are employee reviews – perform badly and if you’re lucky, you’ll wind up with a dead-end job and if you’re not lucky, you’ll get fired.

Build your academic reputation as you would your professional reputation – it will stick with you long after you leave ASL, even more so if you practice locally following school.  The favorable impressions you make at ASL can pay dividends in the future many times over.  Respond to emails in a timely fashion, certainly from the Deans and your professors, but also from your peers.  Be on time to class, extracurricular group meetings, and special events, and be ready to roll once you’re there.  Do your fair share on group assignments and pitch in with extra help or assistance when it’s needed.  Treat the faculty and staff with respect – they will see you at your very best some days and at your worst on others and many of them dealt with the same trials and tribulations as you.

And Now a Word from Our Sponsor 

When I was a 1L, in the last regular class of Contracts II, Professor Mark “Buzz” Belleville gave a little ending speech to the semester.  It didn’t have anything to do with contract law.  Professor Belleville said nothing about barren cows, broken crankshafts, or drunken deals for a Virginia farm.  Instead, he challenged the students to find out what makes them happy and to aim for that, recognizing that such a goal may not make you the most popular person, or bring you the highest status, or earn you more money than you have Mason Jars in which to bury it.  I remember being very affected by what Professor Belleville had to say.  It was obvious he had taken his own advice and felt it important enough to impart on us.  At the time I was at a high point in my coal industry career and had no plans to do anything else.

That day, I realized that I had created a really poor scorecard for measuring how “successful” I’d become.  When you live, eat, and breathe your career you don’t realize at the time the damage you cause in the many other aspects of your life.  You neglect yourself as well as your family and friends.  Those of you who may already understand this are a step ahead of folks like me – it took me the better part of twenty years to understand what is really important in this life.  There may be some of you reading this who have yet to begin your career or start a family and are certain you can balance giving 110% to both, and still give yourself the time you need to relax and decompress.  It is very easy to fool yourself, and it gets even easier as time goes on and your priorities change you instead of the other way around.  Take time now and then to take stock of where you are and what you are.  How does the world define you?  How does your family define you?  How do you define you?  If the three answers aren’t identical, take a breather and reevaluate your choices.

Hope Chest and Cinderella’s Closet Recap

Christian Legal Society would like to thank everyone who made donations or helped contribute to the Hope Chest Store and Cinderella’s Closet last Saturday. We served over 250 people in the community, providing them with furniture, clothing, canned food, toys, books, etc. from the Hope Chest Store and prom attire, jewelry, shoes and make-up for prom from Cinderella’s Closet.

Last Saturday’s Hope Chest Store and Cinderella’s Closet event was one of the largest outreach events our school has participated in and the community was extremely grateful! This event did not only serve people in the immediate community but also served people in Tazewell, Russell, Dickenson and several other surrounding counties. We can officially call the event a huge success and we are so proud to have been a part of it!

Again, thank you to every person who helped make the event such a success and a special thank you to Grundy Women’s Club for their financial support and substantial involvement in making the event all that it was for the surrounding communities!

-Blog post written by Emily Farmer