J. Russell B. Pate, Esq., LLM
Attorney J. Russell B. Pate earned his law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law. He then went on to earn a masters-of-law from California Western School of Law in San Diego in the area of trial advocacy. Attorney Pate started his legal career working for a large plaintiff’s law firm helping people around the world who had developed cancer from exposure to asbestos and other toxic substances. Next, he worked with the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Texas practicing criminal defense in the federal courts of the United States. Before opening his own law firm he worked for an insurance defense firm on St. Thomas. Attorney Pate was voted Best Lawyer in 2011 and 2012 by the readers of the Virgin Islands Daily News. He has served on the Virgin Islands Bar Association’s Board of Governors since 2012 and was President of the Virgin Islands Bar Association in 2016.
Attorney Pate has passed the bar in three States and two Territories. He is admitted to practice law in the Virgin Islands, North Carolina, Texas and Florida. He is also admitted to practice in the federal courts of the District Court of the Virgin Islands, the District Court of Puerto Rico, the Northern District of Texas, the Southern District of Florida, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States.
Attorney Pate is a strong advocate for the United States to stop treating Americans in the U.S. Territories as second-class citizens. Men and women in the Virgin Islands have fought for the United States in all branches of the military. All gave some and some gave all, laying down their lives for the American freedoms of democracy and liberty. There is no excuse why Americans in the Virgin Islands should not be included in every level of government which governs them. This is a basic and fundamental principal of American democracy. Those in the USVI should be able to vote for the President, two U.S. Senators and a Congressional Representative, as well as run for those positions themselves.
Outside of his advocacy, Attorney Pate enjoys gardening and growing Caribbean and African herbs, plants and trees to make local bush teas.
Attorney Pate opened his own law office in 2010. Since that time, he has been twice voted best lawyer in the Virgin Islands and elected President of the Virgin Islands Bar Association.
After law school, Attorney Pate worked in Dallas, but he didn’t like the sprawl of the big city. “You would go outside at night and you couldn’t see the stars in the sky. All you could hear was road noise and car traffic. Now, I stand outside and look up at God’s magnificent creation and I am surrounded by a symphony of frogs, crickets, and sounds of nighttime nature.” When asked about his transition from city to island, Pate responded, “The Virgin Islands is a perfect fit for me. I love the sense of community. We are all in this together with VI pride, trying to make the VI a better place for us and our children. My mom is from Aruba and my mother-in-law from the Bahamas. I love being here right in the middle.”
Many of Attorney Pate’s cases tackle big issues. He has filed class actions, large complex toxic exposure cases and serious personal injury cases. Further, he worked with the Legislature of the Virgin Islands in crafting and updating the laws to help make people safer in the Territory.
Regretfully with little time to travel now, Attorney Pate reminisces on a trip to Africa. “Africa is the birthplace and home of all humankind. To strip away all the materialism, the small problems of life and to focus on the vastness of creation, faith, family, nature, helping others – our brothers and sisters. It made me count my blessings. Being there was a since of spiritual fulfillment.”
Attorney Pate described that helping people with the expungment of a criminal arrest record has been one very rewarding area of his practice. “Most expungement cases are good people who made a small one-time mistake. They paid the price for their conduct. Unfortunately, that arrest or conviction continues to hold them back from going into the military, getting a promotion at work or traveling freely to see their family on another island.”
Other cases are more serious. Attorney Pate handles personal injury and wrongful death cases. These cases pend sometimes for years in the court. “I have cases where my clients are seriously ill and the legal process can be long and stressful. I truly admire the strength of my clients. Fighting for your rights and going to trial is no easy task when healthy. Doing this when you are hurt is nothing short of heroic.”