Lin Starts Job As Solicitor General

West Virginia Attorney General’s Office employee Elbert Lin is now officially West Virginia’s solicitor general, and he said he is enjoying family, community and a slower pace of life in the Mountain State after relocating here from the Washington, D.C., area.

Lin, 35, was most recently a partner at the Wiley Rein law firm in Washington, D.C. – a firm specializing in appellate cases – before he was tapped by new West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to be his solicitor general.

Lin, however, did not have a license to practice law in West Virginia. Instead, he held the title of “senior assistant to the attorney general” after Morrisey took office in January, and worked toward getting his West Virginia certification.

Some members of the West Virginia Legislature criticized Lin’s hiring by the Republican Morrisey, as well as Lin’s pay of $132,000 annually. Former Attorney General Darrell McGraw, a Democrat, did not have a senior assistant.

Lin was sworn in to the West Virginia Bar Association last week after passing mandatory background checks and an ethics exam, and he has assumed his intended duties of solicitor general.

“Here in the office, we never thought there was a problem,” Lin said. “It was a non-issue to me. But when a new person takes over an office, you certainly do expect a bit of political sparring.

“It’s not unusual for a lawyer who relocates from another jurisdiction to take a job to have to apply for a law license,” he added. “There are different rules in every state.”

As solicitor general, Lin is the top appellate officer in West Virginia, and he oversees the appellate division within the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office.

“I also oversee all of the attorney general’s legal opinions,” he said. “These will fall under my area of supervision, as will all litigation involving federal government.”

Lin pointed out his family has a strong tie with the Wheeling area. His wife, Laurie, is the great niece of Bishop John Joseph Swint, who served as Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston from 1922 until 1962.

Lin was born in New York City to parents who were immigrants from Taiwan, and he grew up in Chicago.

“They had the American Dream, and they wanted their kids to do better,” Lin said. “They wanted them to be doctors and attorneys. My father was a scientist, and he encouraged us to not be scientists.”

Lin went on to graduate from Yale University and obtain his law degree there. Later, he worked as a law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas from 2010 to 2011.

“It was an unbelievable opportunity,” Lin said. “I was grateful to him to have the opportunity. The other 30-plus clerks were some of the smartest attorneys I’ve ever met.”

He and wife Laurie have two sons – Owen, 3, and Edison, 2.

“We were happy in D.C., but we had talked about rather it would be better to raise kids in a place where there was more community,” Lin said. “There is so much transition in Washington, and we wanted our sons to grown up in a place they felt was their home.

“There is definitely in West Virginia the sense of the type of community we were looking for,” he continued. “It’s a slower pace, but I’m thrilled with my commute to work. I’ve yet to experience what I would describe as traffic.”