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Clients and colleagues appreciate that Bryan Cokeley takes what he does very seriously. They also appreciate that, in the process of being a serious and well-respected lawyer, Bryan also does not take himself too seriously.  An avid student of people and relationships, Bryan is able to quickly connect with a wide audience and develop a heightened level of authentic trust.  With a career spanning three decades, Bryan has amassed an arsenal of knowledge, both anecdotal and legal, that he uses to develop solutions for his clients in labor and employment matters.  Bryan believes in the importance of uncovering the “why” behind workplace issues and learning the story behind the story.  Clients appreciate this insight because it helps them differentiate between bright spots and toxicities in their places of work, all in an effort to improve the day-to-day work environment. 

Always with the law as a guide, Bryan is a solver of people problems, and he regularly counsels clients on best practices regarding current and relevant issues, including diversity, religious intolerance, sexual harassment, and pay inequity.  In the event that a client has a situation that requires litigation, Bryan draws upon his experience and vigorously defends employers, as he has in more than 40 jury trials in state and federal courts and in more than 20 arbitrations across several states. In preparing narratives for juries, Bryan is inspired by his farmer father who had the folksy wit of Will Rogers and the wisdom of the ages.

At the heart of Bryan’s legal practice is his desire to help his clients recruit and retain the right people in the right positions in their respective workplaces.  Within the firm, Bryan strives to do the same and is active in firm management by serving as the  Managing Member of the Charleston office.  Bryan is one of the firm's representatives to the Employment Law Alliance which is a global network of highly skilled and accomplished labor and employment attorneys and law firms throughout the world. 


The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers

Memberships & Awards

Fellow, West Virginia Bar Foundation, 2015
Fellow, American College of Labor & Employment Lawyers, 2013
Peer Review Rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell
Chambers USA America's Leading Lawyers for Business
Firm Representative, Employment Law Alliance
The Best Lawyers in America®, Employment Law - Management (2011-Present), Labor Law - Management (2013-Present), Litigation - Labor and Employment (2011-Present)
Best Lawyers® 2020 Charleston, WV Litigation - Labor and Employment, Lawyer of the Year
Best Lawyers® 2018 Charleston, WV Labor Law - Management, Lawyer of the Year
Best Lawyers® 2015 Charleston, WV Employment Law, Lawyer of the Year
Best Lawyers® 2011 Charleston, WV Labor and Employment, Lawyer of the Year
Super Lawyers®
Society of Human Resource Management
Senior Articles Editor, West Virginia Law Review
Order of the Coif
Graduated summa cum laude, with Phi Beta Kappa honors, West Virginia University

Key Experience

Advised clients in a variety of industries on “back to school” issues related to COVID-19
Advised clients on remote work arrangements due to COVID-19
Successfully defended an employer in a reverse race discrimination trial in a rural West Virginia county

Work Experience

1988 Steptoe & Johnson PLLC
1985-1988 Law Clerk, The Honorable Charles H. Haden, Chief Judge, U.S. District Court, Southern District of WV

Speaking Engagements

"Mental Health in the Workplace," Employment Law Alliance, June 2019

“Workplace Violence: Erring on the side of safety”; West Virginia Employment Law Letter; Vol. 23, No. 12; June 2018

“Deliberate intent claims are alive in West Virginia, but high court applies the law fairly”; West Virginia Employment Law Letter; Vol. 23, No. 4; October 2017

“Emerging trends for employers to watch”; West Virginia Employment Law Letter; Vol. 22, No. 10; April 2017

“Retaliation: wrong and illegal, but logical”; West Virginia Employment Law Letter; Vol. 21, No. 3; September 2015

“Playing lawyer at unemployment compensation hearings”; West Virginia Employment Law Letter; Vol. 20, No. 4; October 2014

“Compiling and preserving documentation in an internal investigation”; West Virginia Employment Law Letter; Vol. 19, No. 10; April 2014

“The employee five-finger discount: what to do when you suspect theft”; West Virginia Employment Law Letter; Vol. 19, No. 3; September 2013

“Human Resources: Are you ready for a law school exam?”; West Virginia Employment Law Letter; Vol. 18, No. 9; March 2013

“Employment Law 2.0: Have your kids become ‘independent contractors’?”; West Virginia Employment Law Letter; Vol. 18, No. 5; November 2012

“WPCA: Recent court decision closes large tap door but leaves smaller one open”; West Virginia Employment Law Letter; Vol. 17, No. 11; May 2012

West Virginia’s New Workers’ Compensation Anti-Discrimination Provision: “The Road to Court is Paved with Good Intentions”; 94 W. Va. Law Review 725

Bryan is an active lecturer on employment law, having spoken on a variety of topics, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, wrongful discharge, employee handbooks, workers’ compensation discrimination, the unionization process, and sexual harassment.