From what he learned to valuable connections he made through a professor, Escue was able to try multiple types of corporate law assignments until focusing on financial services bank regulatory practice, which allows him to be creative in ways other practices may not.

“I attribute my strong work ethic to my parents and my days at WVU,” Escue said. “To succeed in the legal industry, you need to work harder than most people, and that’s something ingrained in me from my time at WVU.” Escue added he was fortunate to have several mentors who pushed him to take control of his professional career, and to continue his education at the WVU College of Law.

His confidence was boosted by a good first year in law school, and he liked the work because he found it interesting and learned to “think differently.” And that, he said, is really what law school ought to be about. His law school professors also took an interest in him because they knew how much he liked his classes.

“I think that people like to work with people who like what they’re doing,” he said. Two days after his May graduation, he moved to New York City to take a bar review course, and there amid the commotion and excitement of the country’s largest city, he’s remained to build a life and a career.

His dual degrees from WVU have stood him in good stead, even though he determined that a career in accounting wasn’t in his future. Calling it “now the best thing ever,” Escue said he’s able to understand more quickly his clients’ financial statements and goals. “The thing is, you just keep learning, you’re never really not a student.”

As a bank regulatory attorney and a partner at Sullivan and Cromwell since 2007, Escue has used those skills of learning and thinking quickly as the banking industry has changed, particularly with the rise in online banking transactions. “Even the way banks have communications and contact with their customers, all of that has to be considered in light of the rules that apply to them, and the rules are complicated,” Escue said. And that’s where he comes in — working for banks engaging in new activities, helping build the puzzle of how and where the industry evolves under current regulations. With clients all over the nation, he works not only with agencies like the Federal Reserve, the Office of Control of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, but each state’s regulatory agency.

In keeping with the Mountaineer spirit and positive attitude he brought to Morgantown from Point Pleasant, Escue says his job — the numbers, the regulations, the laws, all of it — is fun for him, even after the big events that have changed banking from the “Great Recession” in 2008, just a year after he began his career, to the COVID pandemic in 2020.

To characterize Escue’s career as columns of numbers on a spreadsheet or mountains of regulations would be wrong. While there’s lots of learning (he says a decade of learning in 2008-2009, for instance), his work is still very client-centered. “You get very close to clients, very close to people. And you work with your clients and your partners and your colleagues closely, and develop great relationships,” he continued. And it’s never the same, it’s always something new, yet another thing Escue likes about his job and his WVU background; he learns from all the new situations, all the new people. “That’s what I keep with me,” he said.

Escue serves on the WVU Foundation Board of Directors to give back to the University and West Virginia, maintaining that core relationship that launched him into a successful career he loves. In 2018, Escue established the Ronald E. and Jo Ann Reynolds Escue Neurology Endowment, named for his parents.

Leaving West Virginia doesn’t mean you’ve given up on West Virginia. I’ve always been very proud to be a West Virginian.

— Michael Escue

“Now I have the privilege to try to help others find what they love to do.”