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AHS Graduate Plans To Establish Local Law Firm



CLIFTON FORGE — Mary Umstead Finke, a 2011 graduate of Alleghany High School, has spent the past decade preparing to return to Clifton Forge to establish a law firm to provide general legal services.

The daughter of Robert “Bob” Umstead and his wife, Deborah, of Clifton Forge, Mary earned her B.A. degree from Davis-Elkins College, a member of the Appalachian College Association.

She majored in psychology and criminology with a minor in business before returning to Clifton Forge in 2014 where she worked for 18 months as a substitute teacher in the elementary and the secondary schools of Alleghany County Public Schools.

To continue her education, Mary enrolled in Marymount University in Arlington, Va. By 2018, she earned her M.A. degree with a major in forensics and legal psychology.

While applying to law schools, Mary worked as a paralegal for two and a half years in Washington D.C. at Foley Hoag, the Boston firm’s D.C. office, where some of the firm’s leading lawyers engage in international litigation and arbitration and healthcare law practices.

Currently, Mary is attending Catholic University Columbus School of Law in Washington D.C. where she is endeavoring to earn her Juris Doctor degree, the first degree required to practice law in the U.S.

Mary said, “Once I graduate in 2023, my husband and I are going to move to Clifton Forge.”

After meeting at a New Year’s Eve party in Arlington in 2019, Mary and Phil Finke began dating in 2020, and they were married on Sept. 19, 2021. Phil works online from home as a fraud specialist.

Mary remarked, “I’m going to open my own law firm, and I’ve just started a new job as a law clerk.”

During her first two years at CUCSL, Mary won the Columbus Service Award for volunteering to help others at the university. Currently, she serves as president of the Evening Association, a division organized to help part-time students.

“I’ve done about 100 hours of pro bono work to gain experience,” Mary continued.

Her plan to set up her general services law firm in Clifton Forge after she earns her JD degree remains her professional goal.

Mary concluded, “A lot of people have reached out to me already, and I look forward to having my own law firm in Clifton Forge.”

Both Mary and John are animal lovers, and once the couple moves from Washington D.C. to Clifton Forge, they hope Bandit, their black-lab-mix, will enjoy living in a rural area rather than a city.

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