ToquiNotes: Combined, Incredible 100-Year Milestone by Friends, Neighbors Norm Farley and Jim Christie

By Jeff Toquinto on April 13, 2024 from ToquiNotes via

They have been neighbors for decades. And they have lived in Bridgeport for decades.
Earlier this month, a pair of Briercliff Road residents were recognized for doing something else for decades. At the annual meeting of the West Virginia Bar Association in Charleston, Norm Farley and James “Jim” Christie were recognized for practicing law for 50 years.
Fifty years in one profession sounds like a long time. It sounds even longer when you term it as half a century. Yet, the pair that began in 1974 practicing in an official capacity are still going strong – as neighbors, friends, and colleagues – and closer to attending a 55-year or 60-year recognition ceremony that calling it quits.
“I’ve slowed some,” said Farley. “I come in a little later, but I usually still stay until 5:30 to 6 p.m. The one thing I’m trying to get away from are issues that are long-term. Hopefully, retirement is not too far down the road. I guess you may see me at the 60-year event because I’ve hung around so long and I keep paying my Bar dues.”
Christie essentially said the same.
“I have slowed down a little bit. I’m working, for me, part time, but that’s still 40 hours a week,” he said. “I’m not working weekends, but I still enjoy doing this.”
Farley started “doing this” after graduating from West Virginia University in 1974. Ironically, it was not a predetermined career.
“I wasn’t sure what else to do. You get into college and it’s going all right and then I saw graduation getting close, so I had to pick a major,” said Farley, who earned his initial degree in marketing and economics before law school. “My dad was a county clerk for many years and a public servant. Going to law school was a way to do public good and a means to make a good living in order to have a good family life. It’s worked out well.”
Farley’s early career saw him work in Charleston. He went to work for the Workers Compensation fund but was only there for a year. Farley then spent time at a few other stops before coming to his current firm of West & Jones in 1991.
While Farley has many clients, he and Christie’s time in the legal profession has also seen interaction with the City of Bridgeport and its hard-to-match growth. Farley’s in a hired capacity, and Christie’s in an elected capacity and a bit more. We will revisit Christie shortly.
“It’s been great to work with the city in a legal capacity,” said Farley, who has lived in Bridgeport since 1989. “I have done most of my legal work for the Bridgeport Utility Board since it was created nine or 10 years ago, and I also worked with the city initially with the recreation complex.
“It is great to be part of the growth we’ve seen,” Farley, who also represents several public service districts in the area as well, continued. “Being able to represent the city legally in a manner that keeps things moving forward is a part of my job I truly love.”
As for Christie, the 50-year mark also means he started in 1974. He graduated with his law degree from George Washington University after graduating with a degree in accounting and political science from Salem College.
Getting into law started in a way it is safe to say might be a one-of-a-kind way, or certainly extremely rare at best.
“I always loved the move To Kill a Mockingbird and the lawyer in the movie Atticus Finch (played by Gregory Peck),” said Christie. “That got me interested and, on top of that, my sister’s husband is the now retired Boyd Warner (of the soon-to-be-mentioned Waters, Warner & Harris). That’s where it began.”
Where it ended up going has been distinctive. He started early with the law firm of Stathers and Cantrell in Clarksburg. You know the firm today as Waters, Warner & Harris, PLLC. Today, Christie is self employed as the “James R. Christie Law Offices,” where he works out of the 600 Building at Charles Pointe.
In between, there has been a pretty interesting career ride. He got an early start working for about half a year as general counsel for a coal company. That led to him serving as general counsel for Grafton Coal Company for more than 13 years.
“That was a unique experience,” said Christie, a city resident since 1978.
During his run that is still going, Christie also served as the state’s director of development under former Governor Gaston Caperton. The position today, he said, is called the West Virginia Secretary of Commerce. Eventually, he stayed in private practice.
Along the way, Christie – like Farley – has helped the city. Christie served two terms as mayor, and he currently has Genesis Partners, the developers of Charles Pointe bringing growth to the city, as a client.
“It’s very satisfying to have been involved with the city. What was nice about the Bridgeport mayor’s position is that as much as I enjoy politics, and enjoyed it while in Charleston, I never felt the mayor’s job was political, which was a good thing,” said Christie. “Sure, you campaigned to get votes, but when you were mayor you did what you were supposed to. You were working toward the good of the community with everyone always working together. That doesn’t happen everywhere.”
What also does not happen everywhere is to have your neighbor and your friend celebrate an extremely uncommon milestone. And both were glad they were on hand with one another at the Charleston event held at the Embassy Suites.
Family was also on hand with the pair at the event. Christie was joined by his wife Misty, and Farley’s wife Cherly, among other family members, were also on hand for the 50-year recognition.
“It was really nice. We sat at the same table together and had an enjoyable time,” said Christie, who managed to squeeze in a bit of time as the president of the Harrison County Board of Education in the late 1980s. “It made it special knowing we’re friends and neighbors and that we’ve been going at it this long together.”
Farley concurred.
“It was good to be there with Jim who is a colleague as well as a friend and neighbor. There was actually a pretty big crowd there and I don’t think many in attendance could say that if any,” said Farley. “The other thing was there were probably about 20 that showed up being recognized for 50 years and a lot of them were from my law school class. I just enjoyed the entire thing, even though I told my wife it’s not that big of deal and she insisted it was.”
A combined century of dedication to the profession of law. And decades worth of contributions to the City of Bridgeport.
And Norm Farley is out of order in his last comment. Cheryl Farley is right on this case counselor. It is a big deal.
Congratulations to you both.
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Norm Farley, left, with Jim Christie in Charleston. Second photo is of Farley at a Utility Board meetig, while Christie is shown in front of the Harrison County Commission in the third photo. Bottom photo shows Farley with his wife Cheryl, left, and Christie with his wife Misty at the 50-year recognition ceremony.

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