Former WVIP Student Attorney Kelli Ganz Murray: A Goal, Work Ethic and Compassion

Before Kelli Ganz Murray graduated from WVU Law in 2014, she had her eye on a job in Boston, Massachusetts.

. . . Living in West Virginia and serving indigent clients as a law student helped Murray develop a strong compassion for others. A more rural perspective on the law, coupled with her lifelong passion for social equality, helps her be a better advocate for her clients, according to Murray.

“I work to defend and give a voice to people unable to pay for an attorney, which is a crucial asset when they are facing loss of liberty,” she said. “Most of my clients live in poverty on the margins of society and are often debilitated by substance abuse and trauma. I am successful any time I can empower my clients, whether it’s helping fill out paperwork for a substance abuse treatment program, humanizing them by telling their story during their sentencing, or litigating their case at trial to ensure they have full protection of the constitution.”

Murray used her time well at WVU Law to prepare for her role as a public defender. She took advantage of every opportunity that would ultimately help her achieve her career goal.

She also acquired practical experience as a student attorney in the West Virginia Innocence Project. As student attorney in the clinic, Murray worked on a team that represented a client serving life a sentence. By bringing faulty forensic evidence to light, Murray and her partners were able to obtain a new sentence for their client, and he was ultimately released from prison after serving 18 years. 

“WVU Law gave me opportunities to get specialized training in trial advocacy and oral advocacy, and that has absolutely shaped me as a trial lawyer,” Murray said. “I did approximately 14 full mock trials during my three years of law school and was also able to get rewarding real-life legal experience. In my law classes, I took part in simulations of the different parts to a trial, all of which now directly relate to my job duties.”

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