Virginia Supreme Court Justice Donald Lemons to Join W&L Law School Faculty

Lexington, VA Monday, June 16, 2008


Justice Donald W. Lemons
Donald W. Lemons, Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, will join the faculty of the Washington and Lee University School of Law this fall as Distinguished Professor of Judicial Studies.

Justice Lemons will teach a course on appellate practice in the School's third-year program. Announced in March of this year, the School's new program marks a dramatic departure from traditional legal education by engaging all third-year law students in a broad array of real-world and simulated applications of legal knowledge in order to provide a bridge from the study of legal theory to the actual practice of law.

A distinguished jurist and legal educator, Justice Lemons has served as a judge or justice at every level of the judiciary in Virginia and has taught at the law schools at the University of Virginia and the University of Richmond. He is a national leader in numerous legal and civic organizations, including the American Inns of Court, an organization that brings together legal practitioners of all levels to improve the skills, professionalism and ethics of the bar and bench.

"We are proud Justice Lemons has elected to join our faculty in moving forward with our new third-year curriculum," said Dean Rodney A. Smolla.  "His intellectual interests range widely across legal history, jurisprudence, constitutional law, and comparative law, and his strong ties in the United Kingdom have done much to create bonds between English and American jurists."

"His course on appellate practice will elegantly combine legal theory about the nature of the judicial process with hands-on simulations of appellate practice to provide an enormously enriching educational experience for our students," added Smolla.

Students participating in the course will get an up-close view of appellate advocacy at work by visiting and speaking with justices and judges from various appeals courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States, the Supreme Court of Virginia, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Students will explore the formulation of appellate strategies, effective brief-writing, and presentation of oral argument among other appellate skills. Additionally, students will argue in a moot court setting cases that are currently on appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia, after which students will observe the actual argument before the Court.

"The outstanding faculty at Washington and Lee University School of Law are pursuing a bold new dynamic in legal education that is long overdue," said Justice Lemons.  "W&L has the courage to be on the leading edge of this educational reform, and I am thrilled to be a part of this enterprise."

Justice Lemons graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1976 and served as an assistant dean and assistant professor of law at the School for several years. After a successful career in private practice, Lemons was appointed in 1995 to the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond by Gov. George Allen. In 1998 Lemons was elected by the Virginia General Assembly to the Court of Appeals of Virginia and then to the Supreme Court of Virginia in 2000. During the past eight years, he has also served as the John Marshall Professor of Judicial Studies at the University of Richmond law school.

Justice Lemons will remain on the Court while teaching at W&L.

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