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Former VSB President Speaks at ASL

GRUNDY, VA (MARCH 3, 2020) — Recognizing the hidden figures who are there to support, guide and encourage in each person’s life is one thing former Virginia State Bar President Doris Causey urged Appalachian School of Law students, faculty, staff and members of the community to do as she spoke at ASL last week as part of a celebration of black history month.

Causey, who served as the first African-American president of the Virginia State Bar, remembered NASA Scientist Katherine Johnson, who died earlier in the week and whose life was the subject of a recent movie, Hidden Figures.

“We all have these hidden figures in our lives and we stand on so many of the shoulders of the people who went before us,” Causey said.

She recalled one of her hidden figures was her father, who she said always taught her she was smart and just like everyone else. She also said her grandmother and her mother were other hidden figures in her life.

She urged students to think about the hidden figures they had at ASL in the way of their professors and others on staff and she asked them to step back and consider where they might be if they had not been at ASL and to take it a step further to consider what their purpose will be once they graduate from ASL.

She spoke about those who have made a difference in the law, like Alvin Chambliss, a civil rights attorney, who is best known for his legal work in the Ayers v. Barbour case, which sought to remedy inequalities rooted in past segregation of higher education in his home state of Mississippi.

She also related to students what is was like as a female African-American to seek and ultimately to hold the Virginia State Bar’s highest office. She also spoke about her work with legal aid. Lastly, she spoke about her faith and the importance of approaching all things by looking not at color or difference, but at heart and to examine “what purpose you have, why you are here and how you can serve.”

“You can change things if you are a lawyer,” she said. “You have to get a seat at the table to make change. If you see something you want to change, change it.”

She noted ASL Founder Joe Wolfe had made a difference when he first started working with others in developing the Appalachian School of Law. The work they did to establish the school, she added, had made a difference in the lives of every person sitting in the room.

Causey urged students to do three things related to the law in the future – “to protect it; improve it; and pass it on. Let the law take you where you are supposed to be. Go where you are supposed to go and things will always work out. It’s not about what you are supposed to be, but it is about what you are supposed to do.”

The community service aspect of the educational program at ASL, she said, is important and makes a difference in the Buchanan County community and she added, is also continued by alumni today in other places around the world.

“The live oak tree grows from a tiny little acorn,” Causey said. “Be that live oak. ASL has been a live oak in this community.”

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Media Contact: Cathy St. Clair – 276.202.0383 or cstclair@asl.edu