CHARLESTON – Lawmaker Stephen Skinner has been honored by the West Virginia Association for Justice as its 2014 Member of the Year.
“Stephen Skinner is a tireless advocate on behalf of his clients in the courtroom and behalf of all West Virginians in both Charleston and Washington, D.C.,” said WVAJ past president Bernie Layne, who presented Skinner with the Stanley E. Preiser Award at the group’s annual conference in June. “He has helped educate lawmakers, consumers and business owners about the importance of protecting access to our courts.”
The award is named in honor of the association’s founder, who died in 2009.
A native of Jefferson County, Skinner graduated from Jefferson High in 1986 and earned degrees from West Virginia Wesleyan College and the West Virginia University College of Law. He initially practiced law with his father, John C. Skinner Jr., in Charles Town.
Starting in 1999, Skinner moved his practice to New York, where he represented aviation disaster victims and others, including those hurt in the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Since 2004, Skinner has practiced at Skinner Law Firm in downtown Charles Town with his brother, Andrew Skinner, and their father. In 2012, the Democrat was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates.
“For many years, he has worked on both the state and federal level to protect the rights of every West Virginia resident, worker and business owner, but lobbying from the sidelines wasn’t enough,” Layne said.
In just two legislative sessions, Skinner has become known as the leading voice in the Legislature on consumer protection, Layne said.
“No one is working harder than Stephen Skinner to protect our Seventh Amendment rights,” he said, “and that is why the West Virginia Association for Justice is honored to name him our 2014 Member of the Year.”
Skinner also works as a human and civil rights advocate. The first openly gay member of the Legislature, Skinner also founded Fairness West Virginia, a civil rights organization dedicated to LGBT rights.
Skinner said he feels humbled to be honored with the Stanley Preiser Award.
“Being recognized by the West Virginia Association for Justice and receiving an award named for Stanley Preiser is one of the highlights of my career,” he said. “I am very humbled to receive the award.”
“There is nothing more rewarding than standing up for people who are facing insurmountable odds. You give them a voice. You discover the power of the Seventh Amendment to hold big corporations and wrongdoers accountable.
“To be recognized by trial lawyers for the work that I’ve done and continue to do is a great honor.”
Three years ago, the West Virginia Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission honored Skinner with its Living the Dream Award for his and Fairness West Virginia’s human and civil rights advocacy.