Sam Petsonk is a Beckley-based lawyer who has dedicated his career to ensuring better wages, working conditions, and retirement benefits for coal miners and all workers – recovering millions of dollars in judgments against some of the most powerful companies in the state.
A native of Morgantown, West Virginia, Sam has also worked and resided in Fayette, Kanawha, and Wyoming Counties. He is the past president of the West Virginia Employment Lawyers Association. Sam's law practice focuses on labor and employment law, workplace safety and health, black lung benefits, retirees' rights, the rights of people in recovery, and various class action matters. In 2013, he received the prestigious Skadden Fellowship to launch the Miner Safety and Health Project at Mountain State Justice, a nonprofit legal services program representing underserved West Virginians.
Sam's legal work has secured millions of dollars in wages and benefits for coal miners and other workers across West Virginia, and provided cash assistance to hundreds of miners following layoffs in the coal industry.
Sam previously worked for the late U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd and Senator Carte Goodwin in Washington, DC, serving as a legislative assistant on energy, labor, and economic development. In DC, Sam assisted in drafting several pieces of major legislation benefiting coal miners nationwide. He conducted detailed oversight of federal agencies, and developed expertise in the workings of the administrative state. Sam also previously served as an AmeriCorps*VISTA in Wyoming County, assisting struggling communities in lifting themselves up by the bootstraps.
In addition to his legal work, Sam is engaged in various community and economic development projects, supporting organizations in southern West Virginia and serving on the West Virginia Advisory Committee of the Natural Capital Investment Fund. Sam earned his law degree from Washington & Lee University and his college degree in geography at Brandeis University.
Sam lives with his wife, Stephanie Tyree, and their son, Teddy, in Fayette County.
Sam knows that, even when times are hard, West Virginians are always up to the challenges that we face. For Sam, West Virginia is a place of promise, hope, and opportunity---a place where the abundant natural resources, and the grit and determination of hard-working people, have the power to create a positive society for everyone. Unfortunately, rampant bankruptcies, business closures, costly health insurance, crushing household debt, and more, have set us back in recent decades. That is why Sam has spent the last 15 years advocating for coal miners and all workers by fighting for fairer wages, safer working conditions, and better retirement benefits---as part of a statewide push for a brighter future. Sam has also helped to create innovative ways for entrepreneurs and small businesses to flourish by promoting flexible and non-traditional business ventures across the state. That's the kind of innovative legal thinking that we need in order to protect what we have and grow towards the future.
As a Constitutional officer for the State of West Virginia, the Attorney General must be capable of ensuring transparency, good governance, and fair access to the programs of the administrative state. West Virginians deserve an Attorney General who has a detailed knowledge of administrative law, and a track record of using that knowledge to protect the hard-earned assets of working families while helping our economy to grow.
Sam believes that the Attorney General should take a collaborative approach to enforce our laws fairly, prevent unfair competition, protect consumers from crushing debt and deceptive practices, and promote creative legal options for getting broadband and healthcare services to our communities.