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Frances Lopinsky Horn


Frances Lopinsky Horn (‘36 BS, ‘38 JD)

Frances Lopinsky Horn, a native of Scarbro, W.Va., graduated from West Virginia University in 1936 with a bachelor’s degree and in 1938 with a law degree.

Although WVU’s College of Law graduated its first woman in 1895, only 18 women graduated from the College between 1895 and 1938. The Class of 1938 included four women. Horn led her class academically and was elected to the Order of the Coif, the premier law honor society. She served as the first woman chair of the West Virginia Law Quarterly, the precursor to the West Virginia Law Review.

Upon graduation, she practiced law in West Virginia from 1938-43, first with the firm of Sale, St. Clair & Sale in Welch and then with the firm of Silverstein, Davis & Rich in Charleston.

Horn moved to Washington, D.C., in 1943 to serve on the staff of the National Labor Relations Board. In 1946, she associated in private practice with James E. Curry, then general counsel to the National Congress of American Indians. This association initiated a 50 year relationship between Horn and Indian law.

In 1956, she associated with Wilkinson, Cragun & Barker and soon became a partner. She became a partner at Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker, the successor law firm, in 1982.

As general counsel to several Native American tribes, she was involved in extensive historical and legal research, legislative work and litigation on their behalf. She is a noted expert in the field of claims brought pursuant to the U.S. Indian Claims Commission and has participated in more than ten percent of all cases brought before the Commission.

Horn is the primary author of the Indian Claims Commission Digest and is said to be the most knowledgeable person in the country today on the law of Indian claims.

In 1993, the National Congress of American Indians honored Horn for her lifetime achievement in assisting American Indian tribes. She has been listed in Who’s Who of American Women since its inception.

The WVU College of Law selected her in 1990 for its Justitia Officium Award, the law school’s equivalent to an honorary degree and the highest acclaim that the College of Law can bestow upon a lawyer.