New bankruptcy judge named for Southern West Virginia


A senior law clerk for a federal judge in Charleston has been selected as the next federal bankruptcy judge for West Virginia’s Southern District.

Frank Volk was named by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to replace U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ronald Pearson as the sole bankruptcy judge for the district.

Pearson, 72, announced in February that after 32 years on the bench, he would retire on Oct. 8.

Volk, 49, has served as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver in Charleston for about a decade.

Volk’s appointment will take several months, but Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers said in a news release Thursday that “the district expects no interruption” in the bankruptcy court’s operation

Bankruptcy judges in West Virginia are appointed by judges in the 4th Circuit, which is based in Richmond, for 14-year terms.

“Frank Volk is an accomplished legal scholar, professor at law, and senior law clerk with a deep knowledge of bankruptcy law and a keen appreciation of the important role served by bankruptcy court judges,” Chambers said in a news release. “We know his intellect, temperament, and skill will shine brightly in his new role.

Volk was hesitant Thursday to speak before the appointment is finalized by, among other things, a background check, but said “he is very grateful for the opportunity.”

A Morgantown native, Volk serves as an adjunct professor at the WVU College of Law, his alma mater. He has taught courses on advanced bankruptcy law and federal civil rights. He said Thursday he still plans to teach a bankruptcy law class at the school this fall.

“I have always had a very keen interest in bankruptcy law,” Volk said during a telephone interview. “It is a very interesting field of law, it is a very challenging field of law and it is very important.”

He said Pearson’s retirement would be a huge loss for the court.

Chambers thanked Pearson for his service and noted the large caseload the retiring judge has handled during his tenure.

“Judge Pearson has presided over thousands of cases, protecting the rights of West Virginians during times of challenging financial issues and efficiently handling extremely complex proceedings affecting many businesses and communities in our state,” said Chambers. “He is sure to remain active in the civic fabric of West Virginia.”

Reach Kate White at, 304-348-1723 or follow @KateLWhite on Twitter.

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