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Justice Workman establishes fund for child and family law clinic

A pioneering Supreme Court justice is leaving a legacy at West Virginia University College of Law that will benefit the state’s children and families.

Margaret Workman

Margaret Workman, the first woman elected to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, has given $50,000 to establish an endowment for the Child and Family Advocacy Law Clinic.

The Justice Margaret Workman Child Advocacy Endowment is in memory of her late children, Lindsay Gardner and Ted Gardner. The gift will help support the operation of the law clinic, which provides practical training for law students serving those in need.

“A major focus of my judicial career has been to shape a court system more protective of children’s rights and more effective in helping families in crisis,” Workman said. “This gift will support the Child and Family Advocacy Law Clinic in its work on these same goals. I owe the WVU College of Law a debt of gratitude for my legal education and the opportunity it has provided me for a very satisfying career.”

Workman is retiring from the Supreme Court in December 2020 after more than 30 years on the bench.

“Over the course of her career, Justice Workman has made a positive impact on countless West Virginia families and children,” said Jennie James, assistant dean for Development. “It’s a privilege for us to continue her legacy at the College of Law and a special honor to do it in the name of her children, Lindsay and Ted.”

Workman became the first woman to win a statewide election in West Virginia when she was elected to the Supreme Court of Appeals in 1988. Before that, she had been the state’s youngest and the second-ever female circuit court judge, appointed in 1981.

During her tenure on the Supreme Court, Workman has served as Chief Justice five times. She formed committees to improve magistrate court facilities, reform the court system’s response to children’s issues and rules governing child abuse cases, and further gender equality in the courts.

Early in her career, Workman was assistant counsel to the majority on the Public Works Committee of the U.S. Senate. She also served as an advance person in the Carter Presidential Campaign, and she worked on U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller’s campaign before opening her own law firm in Charleston, West Virginia.

Throughout her career in the law, Workman has received numerous awards and honors. These include the Susan B. Anthony Award, the West Virginia Florence Crittenton Award, the West Virginia American Civil Liberties Union’s Defending Democracy Award and the West Virginia Citizens Action Group Award for Outstanding Public Service. She is a West Virginia Bar Foundation Fellow and a permanent member of the American Law Institute, a position reserved for outstanding legal scholars.

Workman was the first person in her family to go to college. She graduated from WVU in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and she earned her J.D. from the WVU College of Law in 1974. She also holds honorary degrees from West Virginia State University, Shepherd University and the University of Charleston.

The gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of West Virginia University.

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