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Justice Donald Lemons, Professor of Judicial Studies at W&L Law, Elected Chief Justice of Virginia Supreme Court

The Justices of the Supreme Court of Virginia have elected Justice Donald W. Lemons as Chief Justice. Since 2008, Justice Lemons has served as Distinguished Professor of Judicial Studies at Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Justice Lemons succeeds Justice Cynthia D. Kinser, who is retiring from the Court at the end of the year. He will begin his term as Chief Justice on January 1, 2015.

“We have had the opportunity to get to know Justice Lemons as a colleague, a teacher, and a committed member of the W&L community,” said Dean Nora Demleitner. “We could not be prouder of this recognition of his talents and his devotion to the law, justice, and the people of the State of Virginia.”

At W&L Law, Justice Lemons 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. Students participating in the course explore the formulation of appellate strategies, effective brief-writing, and presentation of oral argument among other appellate skills. Students also 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.

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 and served as president of 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.

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.