W&L Law is fortunate to be honored by many notable alumni. Graduates of W&L Law include two Justices of the United States Supreme Court, six presidents of the American Bar Association, two Solicitors General of the United States, Presidential Cabinet members, as well as numerous state governors, and United States Senators and Representatives. The law school has produced dozens of federal and state judges, including a former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and multiple state supreme court justices. W&L Law's alumni further include influential academics, business leaders, and distinguished attorneys. This achievement is particularly noteworthy given the law school's small size.
U.S. Supreme Court Justices
Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr., Class of 1931, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1972-1987, Appointed by President Richard M. Nixon)
In 1992, the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Wing was added to Sydney Lewis Hall and the Wilbur C. Hall Law Library at a dedication ceremony attended by Justice Powell and presided over by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. The Powell Wing houses the professional and personal papers and archives of Justice Powell, as well as other manuscript collections, rare books, and archives of the law school.
Joseph Rucker Lamar, Class of 1878, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1910-1916, Appointed by President William Howard Taft)
Joseph Rucker Lamar served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1886 to 1889, and also served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia from 1903 to 1905. At the time of his appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Lamar was only one of three Justices ever nominated by a President of the opposite party. Justice Lamar, together with Frederick W. Lehmann, was selected in 1914 to represent the United States at the ABC Powers Conference convened to avert a war over the Veracruz Incident. Justice Lamar's professional papers, including correspondence concerning his years as a Supreme Court Justice, are archived at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia.
Solicitors General of the United States
John W. Davis, Class of 1895, 14th Solicitor General of the United States (1913-1918, Appointed by President Woodrow Wilson)
John W. Davis is the named partner in the international law firm of Davis Polk & Wardell, LLP, a law firm formed in 1849. Over a 60-year legal career, Davis argued 140 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, 73 cases argued as Solicitor General, and 67 cases argued as a private lawyer. Lawrence Wallace, who retired from the Office of the Solicitor General in 2003, argued 157 cases during his career, however, many believe that few attorneys have argued more cases than Davis in the twentieth century. Davis is best known as the Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States during the 1924 presidential election, losing to Republican incumbent Calvin Coolidge. The W&L Law Annual Davis Moot Court Competition is named in his honor.
Davis served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1918 to 1921. He was the founding President of the Council on Foreign Relations, formed in 1921; Chairman of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1922 to 1939, and served as American Bar Association President. Davis represented West Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1911 to 1913.
One of Davis' most influential arguments before the Supreme Court was in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer in May 1952, now referred to as the Youngstown Steel case, when the Court ruled on President Harry S. Truman's seizure of the nation's steel plants. It had been predicted that the President's actions would be upheld. However, the Court decided 6-3 to uphold the injunction, and sided with Davis' arguments on the limits of executive power.
Three years before his death at age 81, in Davis' final appearance before the Supreme Court, he unsuccessfully defended the "separate but equal" doctrine in Briggs v. Elliott, a companion case to Brown v. Board of Education. Briggs v. Elliott, 342 U.S. 350 (1952), on appeal from the U.S. Eastern District of South Carolina, was the first of the five cases combined into Brown v. Board of Education (1954).
John Goode, Jr., Class of 1861, 3rd Solicitor General of the United States (1885-1886, Appointed by President Grover Cleveland as Acting Solicitor General)
Presidential Cabinet Members
John Otho Marsh, Jr., Class of 1951, Secretary of the Army (1981-1989 under President Ronald Reagan) United States Congressman
Newton D. Baker, Class of 1894, Secretary of War (1916-1921, Appointed by President Woodrow Wilson)
Spencer Cox, Class of 2001, Governor of Utah (2021-present), Lieutenant Governor of Utah (2013-2021)
Charles L. Terry, Jr., Class of 1924, Governor of Delaware (1961-1965), Chief Justice of Delaware Supreme Court (1963-1964)
Homer A. Holt, Class of 1923, Governor of West Virginia (1937 to 1941)
William M. Tuck, Class of 1921, Governor of Virginia (1946-1950)
George Washington Hays, Class of 1897, Governor of Arkansas (1913 to 1917)
Ruby Laffoon, Class of 1890, Governor of Kentucky (1931-1935)
Thomas Chipman McRae, Class of 1874, Governor of Arkansas (1921-1925); U.S. Congressman from Arkansas (1885-1903)
Henry M. Mathews, Class of 1857, Governor of West Virginia (1877-1891)
James L. Kemper, Class of 1842, Governor of Virginia (1874-1878)
United States Senate
Paul S. Trible, Jr., Class of 1971, U.S. Senator from Virginia (1983-1989); U.S. Congressman from Virginia (1976-1982)
Scott Marion Loftin, Class of 1899, U.S. Senator from Florida (1936) and President of the American Bar Association
William James Bryan, Class of 1899, U.S. Senator from Florida (1907-1908)
Nathan P. Bryan, Class of 1895, U.S. Senator from Florida (1911-1917), Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (1920-1935, Appointed by President Woodrow Wilson)
Alfred E. Reames, Class of 1893, U.S. Senator from Oregon (1938)
Miles Poindexter, Class of 1891, U.S. Senator from the State of Washington (1911-1923)
United States Congress
Morgan Griffith, Class of 1983, U.S. Congressman from Virginia (2011- present)
Bob Goodlatte, Class of 1977, U.S. Congressman from Virginia (1993-present)
William Fadjo Cravens, Class of 1920, U.S. Congressman from Arkansas (1939-1949)
Clarence J. Brown, Class of 1915, U.S. Congressman from Ohio (1939-1965)
Franklin Brockson, Class of 1896, U.S. Congressman from Delaware (1913-1915)
James Murray Hooker, Class of 1896, U.S. Congressman from Virginia (1921-1925)
Harry M. Wurzbach, Class of 1896, U.S. Congressman from Texas (1921-1929)
Seward H. Williams, Class of 1895, U.S. Congressman from Ohio (1915-1917)
Samuel B. Avis, Class of 1893, U.S. Congressman from West Virginia (1913-1915)
Edward Cooper, Class of 1892, U.S. Congressman from West Virginia (1915-1919)
James Hay, Class of 1877, U.S. Congressman from Virginia (1897-1916)
Henry St. George Tucker III, Class of 1876, U.S. Congressman from Virginia (1888-1896; 1922-1932) and President of the American Bar Association
David Gardiner Tyler, Class of 1869, U.S. Congressman from Virginia (1893-1897)
Robert Murphy Mayo, Class of 1859, U.S. Congressman from Virginia (1883-1884)
John J. Davis, Class of 1856, U.S. Congressman from West Virginia (1871-1875)
Mark Steven Davis, Class of 1988, Federal Judge, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (2008-present)
Robert E. Payne, Class of 1967, Federal Judge, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (1991-present)
H. Emory Widener, Jr., Class of 1953, Federal Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (1969-2007)
Jackson L. Kiser, Class of 1952, Federal Judge, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia (1981-1997)
John Ashton MacKenzie, Class of 1939, Federal Judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (1967-1985)
Harry Jacob Lemley, Class of 1910, Chief Judge (1948-1958), Federal Judge (1939-1948), joint seat for both the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas and the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas
Heartsill Ragon, Class of 1908, US Congressman from Arkansas (1923-1933) and federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas (1933-1940)
Duncan Lawrence Groner, Class of 1894, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (1937-1948); Federal Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (1931-1937); Federal Judge, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (1921-1931); U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (1910-1913)
Linda Klein '83L was sworn in as president of the American Bar Association in August 2016. She previously served as president-elect and as chair of the ABA House of Delegates, the association's policy making body. A past president of the State Bar of Georgia, and the first woman to hold that post, Klein worked to increase access to legal services for Georgia's indigent. She devised and executed the plan to achieve the first state appropriation of tax dollars to support legal services. Klein is managing shareholder of the Georgia offices of Baker Donelson. Her practice concentrates on litigation, alternative dispute resolution and counseling business owners.
Robert J. Grey, Jr. '76L was sworn in as the 128th president of the American Bar Association August 9, 2004. He is the sixth alumnus of Washington and Lee University School of Law to serve in this important position. A partner in the Richmond, Va., office of Hunton & Williams, Grey's practice has focused on administrative matters before state and federal agencies, mediation and dispute resolution, and legislative representation of clients.
Lewis F. Powell, Jr. 1929, 1931L
88th president, 1964-65
In 35 years of practice at the Richmond firm of Hunton & Williams, he became both its chief rainmaker and leader in pro bono work. His legacy as ABA president is most evident in the Legal Services Program and the Constitutional amendment on presidential succession. Powell served as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1972-1987. Most closely associated with the Bakke decision, his ability as a consensus builder made him a powerful swing vote on the Court.
Ross L. Malone, Jr. 1932L
82nd president, 1958-59
Deputy attorney general of the United States, 1952-53; vice president and general counsel to General Motors, 1967-74; W&L board of trustees, 1967-74; rector, 1974; and Law Council chair. Malone was one of the principal drafters of the 25th Amendment dealing with presidential succession. He posthumously received the highly prestigious ABA Medal.
Scott M. Loftin 1899 LL.D.
58th president, 1934-35
General counsel for the Florida East Coast Railway, 1931-1941; Attorney General's Advisory Committee on Crime, 1934. He was a member of the National Conference on Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
John W. Davis 1895
45th president, 1922-23
W&L professor of law, 1896-97; U.S. congressman (D-W.Va.), 1911-13; solicitor general, 1913-18; and U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, 1918-21. He ran as the Democratic presidential candidate in the 1924 election against Calvin Coolidge. At the time of his death in 1955, he had argued more cases (141) before the Supreme Court than anyone else in the 20th Century.
Henry St. George Tucker 1876
27th president, 1904-05
W&L professor of law, 1897-1902; dean of the Law School, 1899-1902; and acting president, 1900-01. U.S. congressman (D-Va.), 1889-96, and again from 1921-32.
Other ABA presidents with ties to W&L include R. William Ide III a 1962 graduate of the College (and graduate of the University of Virginia Law School) who served as the 117th ABA president, 1993-94, and John Randolph Tucker, the first dean of the W&L School of Law (1893-97), who served as the 15th ABA president, 1892-93.