Bernadette Donovan Adjunct Professor of Law

Phone: 540-458-8517


Office: 483 Lewis Hall

Areas of Expertise/Classes Taught

Death Penalty


BA, University of Chicago

JD, University of Virginia


Bernadette Donovan practices with the firm of Donovan & Engle in the areas of criminal trial defense, criminal appeals, and habeas corpus. She is experienced in the defense and post-conviction litigation of complex criminal cases, particularly capital murder and other serious crimes. Bernadette is also an adjunct professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, where she currently teaches a course on the death penalty and previously served as co-director of the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse (VC3) clinic.

Bernadette began her career as a Law Fellow at the Northern Virginia Capital Defender Office. She later worked at the Tennessee Office of the Post-Conviction Defender, where she represented death-sentenced persons in state post-conviction challenges to their convictions and sentences. Bernadette has been in private practice since 2012 and is certified by the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission as Felony Lead Trial Counsel, Capital Lead Trial Counsel, Capital Habeas Counsel, and Capital Appellate Counsel. In all of her positions, Bernadette has maintained a small caseload that enables her to focus on providing every client with thorough investigation, prompt communication, and detail-intensive advocacy.

Bernadette is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where she was an Executive Editor of the Virginia Law Review and a member of the Innocence Project Clinic. She received her B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago, where she studied Human Development with a specialization in Mental Health Issues. Bernadette integrates this education into her practice, sensitively assisting clients with mental health needs and investigating the impact of mental health issues on competency, guilt or innocence, and sentencing.