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. The process typically takes three to five months, so it likely will be sometime this summer when Lin resumes his job as solicitor general.
"When this office announced Mr. Elbert Lin's hiring, and in numerous conversations since, we have said Mr. Lin would need to obtain reciprocal admission before he would assume all of his duties," Morrisey said. "As we said [Thursday], we are going through the same process any law firm goes through when it hires an attorney from out of state who currently is not licensed to practice law in West Virginia."
Morrisey announced Lin's hiring at a news conference at the state Capitol last month. Morrisey's news release makes no mention of the fact that Lin didn't have a West Virginia law license and that his duties would be limited until he secured one.
Morrisey said Lin will advance Morrisey's "agenda of tackling federal overreach and establishing a nationally respected appellate division," according to the release. Lin will head the attorney general's new Office of Federalism and Freedom, which was set up to challenge federal laws that Morrisey deems aren't in West Virginia's best interest.
Lin, 34, did not attend the Jan. 9 news conference.
Morrisey said he didn't know Lin until he contacted the Attorney General's Office about the new solicitor general post.
Lin, a graduate of Yale Law School, previously worked as a clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and as a trial attorney with the U.S. Justice Department.
He is a member of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, an organization of conservatives and libertarians. Morrisey has said that Lin has "impeccable legal credentials."
Morrisey's next highest-paid staff member -- after Lin -- is chief counsel Dan Greear, who makes $127,000 a year. Morrisey, whose salary is set by state law, earns $95,000.
Morrisey, a Republican, obtained his West Virginia law license four days before filing to run for attorney general in January 2012. He defeated longtime Attorney General Darrell McGraw in the November election, and took office Jan. 14.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.