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WVU College of Law scholarship honors past Steptoe & Johnson CEO Brewer

Steptoe & Johnson announced a new WVU College of Law scholarship established in honor of retiring former CEO Susan Brewer, second from left, at a firm meeting earlier this year.

Steptoe & Johnson announced a new WVU College of Law scholarship established in honor of retiring former CEO Susan Brewer, second from left, at a firm meeting earlier this year. From left, Steptoe & Johnson Executive Committee member Sharon Flanery, WVU Foundation President and CEO Cindi Roth, and Steptoe & Johnson CEO Chris Slaughter presented the honor. (Photo courtesy of Karen Evans Pictures LLC.)

Emerging leaders studying at the West Virginia University College of Law will benefit from a new scholarship established by Steptoe & Johnson PLLC in honor of retiring former CEO Susan S. Brewer, the first woman to lead a major law firm in Appalachia.

Steptoe & Johnson contributed $100,000 to establish the Susan S. Brewer Law Leadership Scholarship, which goes to full-time students at the College of Law who demonstrate leadership in their academic career, community, work and other areas.

“Susan is a brilliant litigator and leader who always carries others as she climbs,” Amelia Smith Rinehart, William J. Maier, Jr. Dean and Professor of Law, said. “Honoring her trailblazing career in the legal profession with a scholarship of this caliber will enable the College of Law to recruit and educate students who reflect those same values of leading through excellence and service to the profession. We are so grateful for Susan’s lasting leadership and impactful commitment to WVU, as well as Steptoe & Johnson’s ongoing partnership with the College of Law to develop West Virginia’s future lawyers and leaders. This scholarship will support WVU students for many years to come, and we can’t think of a more fitting tribute to Susan’s incredible legacy in our profession.”

Susan S. Brewer

Brewer joined Steptoe & Johnson in 1980, two weeks after graduating from George Mason University with her law degree. She worked under managing partner Bob Steptoe as a litigator and served on the firm’s Executive Committee for over 20 years before taking the helm as CEO in 2009.

Under Brewer’s leadership, Steptoe & Johnson executed ambitious strategic plans, earned national recognition for its energy practice, and expanded both regionally and nationally to Colorado, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Texas. She spearheaded efforts to create the firm’s diversity and inclusion program, appointed its first director, and created affinity programs for women, parents, and veterans. She also worked to increase communication and maintain a collegial culture of teamwork, efforts complemented by her focus on building out the firm’s client feedback, business development, succession, and emerging leadership programs.

Brewer stepped down as CEO in 2020. She will retire at the end of 2022.

“Susan has been a great leader from the moment she moved to West Virginia to begin working for our firm in 1980,” Steptoe & Johnson CEO Christopher L. Slaughter said. “She is a big supporter of WVU as a whole and particularly the College of Law and WVU Foundation, where she serves on the Board of Directors. We felt this would be a good way to show our appreciation for all that she’s done and support law students who show promise as leaders, which Susan has exemplified, while also honoring her adopted state and university. I hope another young lawyer just starting a career in the law, like Susan was back in 1980, will be helped along by the scholarship and develop into a great leader, too.”

The scholarship was announced earlier this year at the first firm meeting to bring all Steptoe & Johnson attorneys and professionals together since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The occasion offered a perfect opportunity to pay tribute to Brewer’s career and contributions. Her family was invited to share in the special moment.

“I am overwhelmed by my firm’s generous scholarship gift in my name,” Brewer said. “Having been at Steptoe & Johnson for almost 42 years, there are so many colleagues to thank for teaching, mentoring and guiding me, and assuring my success as both a lawyer and a leader. I feel blessed to have worked with every one of them. Even though I’ll be retiring, I will never really leave Steptoe & Johnson.”

WVU Foundation President and CEO Cindi Roth was on hand for the presentation to Brewer, who has served on the Foundation’s Board of Directors for more than a decade.

“Susan has been a dedicated supporter of West Virginia University for many years, so this generous scholarship gift from Steptoe & Johnson is such a fitting tribute to her outstanding work in the legal field and her efforts to lead this institution forward through philanthropy,” Roth said. “I’m confident her example of hard work, leadership and service will inspire future generations of attorneys and board members alike.”

Founded in Clarksburg, West Virginia, Steptoe & Johnson is a law firm nationally recognized for its strengths in energy law with more than a century of know-how in the areas of business, labor and employment, and litigation. The firm has over 400 lawyers and other professionals practicing in 18 offices in Colorado, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia.

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

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