Feature Stories Campus Events All Stories

Chief Justice Donald Lemons, Professor of Judicial Studies at W&L Law, Receives Legal Education Award

Donald Lemons, Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court and Professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, is the 2016 recipient of the William R. Rakes Leadership in Education Award from the Virginia State Bar Section on the Education of Lawyers.

Justice Lemons received the award during the Virginia State Bar annual meeting, held this month.

Justice Lemons has served on the Virginia Supreme Court since 2000 and was elected Chief Justice in 2014. Since 2008, he has served as Distinguished Professor of Judicial Studies at Washington and Lee University School of Law, where he teaches a third-year practicum course on appellate practice that combines legal theory about the nature of the judicial process with hands-on simulations of appellate practice.

“Chief Justice Lemons has made significant contributions to the education of our students at W&L, not only by working with them to sharpen their appellate advocacy skills but also by speaking in numerous settings on the ideals of professionalism within the practicing bar,” said Dean Brant Hellwig. “Chief Justice Lemons is well deserving of this recognition, and we are both thankful and proud of his affiliation with our law school. “

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 of the University of Virginia, the University of Richmond, and Washington and Lee University. He also is a national leader in numerous legal and civic organizations including service as the president of The American Inns of Court, an organization dedicated to fostering professionalism, education, and mentoring to enhance the best values of the legal profession among the bench and the bar.

Recognized as an authority on American legal history, Justice Lemons served on the state, national and international committees that organized the activities to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Jamestown’s founding. In 2008, he was awarded the rare honor of being named an Honorary Master of the Bench by the Middle Temple in London.

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.