ATTORNEY GENERAL ; Morrisey Defends Lins $132K Salary; Aide Not Licensed to Practice Law in W.Va

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West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Friday defended his decision to keep the highest-paid lawyer in his office on the payroll, even though the lawyer won't be able to practice law in West Virginia for months.

Elbert Lin, who served as Morrisey's solicitor general for a day, can't sign legal pleadings or appear in court on the state's behalf without a West Virginia law license.

The state continues to pay Lin $132,000 a year, even though he isn't expected to secure a law license for three to five months. That was Lin's salary as solicitor general, even though his job title was quietly changed to "senior assistant to the attorney general" last week.

"In a time when our state is losing some of its brightest and best to opportunities in other states, we are extremely excited that the state of West Virginia has been able to attract such a high- caliber and distinguished legal talent," Morrisey said in a prepared statement. "Mr. Lin was willing to resign from a highly successful law practice and take a sizeable pay cut to commit to moving his family to our great state."

Lin lists a home address in Falls Church, Va., according to state personnel records.

Morrisey also ordered Lin not to speak to the media Friday.

"Mr. Lin will not be doing any interviews until he assumes the position of solicitor general," Morrisey said.

Lin actually started work as Morrisey's solicitor general - a new position created by Morrisey - on Feb. 4.

The following day, Morrisey's office submitted new paperwork, changing Lin's job title to senior assistant.

Last week, Morrisey would not answer questions about Lin's pay or the abrupt decision to change his title. Morrisey also wouldn't say if Lin has submitted an application for a license through the West Virginia Board of Law Examiners.

Lin, a former Washington, D.C., lawyer, has licenses to practice law in the District of Columbia and Massachusetts.

West Virginia has reciprocity agreements with D.C. and Massachusetts, but Lin still must take a professional conduct exam in April and undergo an extensive background check before he can secure a West Virginia law license. The state Supreme Court has final approval. …