J. ZAK RITCHIE

304-615-2887

  • J.D., West Virginia University College of Law. Order of the Coif; Senior Managing Editor, West Virginia Law Review

  • B.A., West Virginia Wesleyan Collegesumma cum laude

Zak’s practice focuses on complex commercial and government litigation. He also frequently handles appeals in state and federal courts. Zak founded the firm after working in private practice and as assistant solicitor general in the Office of the West Virginia Attorney General. As an assistant solicitor general, Zak concentrated on federal regulatory challenges in the energy and environmental sectors, defended state laws from constitutional challenge, and frequently appeared before the state’s highest court. In litigation over federal rulemaking before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Zak coordinated the state’s legal strategy with an array of national trade groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the National Mining Association, among others. Since joining the private practice, Zak has also developed a growing commercial and appellate practice concerning disputes over corporate governance, shareholder derivative law, and insurance coverage, as well as the defense of matters involving lawyers and their firms.


A native of the Mid-Ohio Valley,  Zak graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College and West Virginia University College of Law. Following law school, Zak served as a law clerk to the Hon. John T. Copenhaver of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia and the Hon. Stephanie D. Thacker of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. 

  

Representative Matters

  • Successfully litigated Section 1983 retaliation case against state superintendent of schools, resulting in leading federal decision on First Amendment retaliation involving the lobbying and government affairs industry; Webb v. Paine, 515 F. Supp. 3d 466 (S.D. W. Va. 2021).

  • Favorably resolved election, candidate qualification, and appointment controversies before the state supreme court; State ex rel. Maynard v. Justice, 245 W. Va. 179, 858 S.E.2d 229 (2021); Witten v. Butcher, 238 W. Va. 323, 794 S.E.2d 587 (2016); State ex rel. Biafore v. Tomblin, 236 W. Va. 528, 782 S.E.2d 223 (2016).

  • Obtained dismissals for lack of personal jurisdiction in defamation case involving national broadcasts; Blankenship v. Napolitano, 451 F. Supp. 3d 596 (S.D. W. Va. 2020).

  • Broke new ground on class certification requirements under state law; State ex rel. Surnaik Holdings of WV, LLC v. Bedell, 244 W. Va. 248, 852 S.E.2d 748 (2020).

  • Unanimous decision of state supreme court limiting derivative actions for nonprofit corporations; John A. Sheppard Mem'l Ecological Rsrv., Inc. v. Fanning, 242 W. Va. 459, 836 S.E.2d 426 (2019).

  • Persuaded the first district court in the Fourth Circuit to embrace “snap removal” in case against numerous national media organizations; Blankenship v. Napolitano, 2019 WL 3226909 (S.D. W. Va. July 17, 2019).

  • Obtained dismissals of putative class actions claiming public and private nuisance, negligence, and trespass arising from industrial fire; Barker v. Naik, 2018 WL 3824376 (S.D. W. Va. Aug. 10, 2018); Callihan v. Surnaik Holdings of WV, LLC, 2018 WL 6313012 (S.D. W. Va. Dec. 3, 2018).

  • Trial counsel in successful defense of Supreme Court Justice in first impeachment trial in West Virginia since 1875.


Admissions

  • West Virginia

  • Texas

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia

  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia

  

Professional Background

  • Law Clerk, Hon. John T. Copenhaver, Judge, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia

  • Law Clerk, Hon. Stephanie D. Thacker, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

  • Assistant Solicitor General, Office of the West Virginia Attorney General

  • Attorney, Bailey & Glasser LLP, Charleston, WV

  

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Appointed by the state supreme court to the Committee on the Revision of the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure

  • Appointed by the governor to the West Virginia Hope Scholarship Board

  • Vice Chair, The Committee on the Unlawful Practice of Law, West Virginia State Bar

  • The Continuing Legal Education Commission, West Virginia State Bar (2017-2020)

  

Publications and Presentations

  • Appealing to Win: A Q&A With Appellate Advocates, The West Virginia Lawyer, Issue 52 (Winter 2021) (forthcoming)

  • ALJs and Hearing Examiners: Overview of the Code of Conduct and Update on the Law (July 22, 2021)

  • Looking for West Virginia Caselaw? Try Our Federal District Courts, The West Virginia Lawyer, Issue 50 (Summer 2021)

  • State Courts Should Discard the “No Set of Facts” Test When Deciding Rule 12(b)(6) Motions, The West Virginia Lawyer, Issue 40 (Winter 2018)

  • The Separation of Powers and the Judicial Rulemaking Power, The West Virginia Lawyer, Issue 38 (Spring 2018)

  • Making a Plausible Claim, The West Virginia Lawyer, Issue 36 (Winter 2017)

  • A Fresh Look at an Old Tort: Litigating Slander of Title in Mineral Disputes, 115 W. Va. L. Rev. 1097 (2013)

  • A Tie That Binds: Forum Selection Clause Enforceability in West Virginia, 113 W. Va. L. Rev. 95 (2010).