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Meet a Colleague: Brian Murchison Brian Murchison, Charles S. Rowe Professor of Law, has been on the law faculty since 1982.

murchison3-800x533 Meet a Colleague: Brian MurchisonBrian Murchison

Brian Murchison has been on the law faculty since 1982 and is the Charles S. Rowe Professor of Law. He teaches Torts, Mass Media Law, and Administrative Law. He has been the Director of the Frances Lewis Law Center and the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics. He also was co-founder of the Black Lung Clinic, which represents coal miners in federal workers’ compensation claims. Murchison’s undergraduate and law degrees are from Yale, and he practiced law in Washington, D.C. He and his wife Ann met while both were in the Peace Corps for two years after college. They have three grown children and four grandchildren. 

Q. Where is your favorite location on the W&L campus?
Definitely the Millhiser Moot Court Room. It’s a great gathering spot for the law school community and all its events. Hard not to love the excitement of the Moot Court finals and the Best Notes presentations – plus the talks by all sorts of eminent visitors. Another memory of that room: teaching a large section of Torts in there, while masked, during the pandemic — with the students spread all over the Courtroom and nobody really able to hear anybody else. But we survived, along with Mrs. Palsgraf and Markie McAfoos.

Q. What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working?
Walking with my wife Ann and our pup, Gillie, through Woods Creek Park, Lexington’s own “blessed plot, this earth, this realm.”

Q. Book Recommendations
“An Artist of the Floating World,” by Kazuo Ishiguro; “A Lesson Before Dying,” by Ernest Gaines.

Q. Who inspired you to teach?
Two of my high school math teachers, Lloyd Kayhart and Florrie Fasanelli, who challenged us  to use whatever talents we had and to weather the storms of the late 1960s. And later, two fantastic Peace Corps instructors, Arley Gray and Rick Bilheimer, who trained an awkward 21-year-old (me) how to teach English as a foreign language in Benin, West Africa (1974-76).

Q. What courses are you teaching this semester?
Torts and Mass Media Law. Next semester: Administrative Law.

Q. If you could have coffee or tea with one person, who would it be and why?
Bart Giamatti. One-of-a-kind human being, scholar and university president, and commissioner of baseball. I would love to pick his brain about life, literature, law, and how to keep the liberal arts vital and relevant (maybe ask him about baseball too).

Q. What is an accomplishment you are proud of?
Teaming up with Professor Mary Natkin to start the law school’s Black Lung Clinic back in the 1990s. Getting to know the coal miner clients and working with students on live cases for three years.  Untangling the case law, interacting with medical witnesses, watching the students grow as they undertook their first real legal work. The best experience!

Q. What is a favorite memory from your tenure at W&L?
Co-teaching with Dean Bezanson a year-long seminar with sixteen students on a special project: drafting a “uniform law” that would revise and reform libel law, the privacy torts, fraud, and other communicative torts. The students spent the fall semester researching current law and debating (often late into the night) what reforms to propose. The spring semester was spent drafting the uniform act, arguing over every word and punctuation mark, and finally hosting a “legislative hearing” where experts assembled in the moot courtroom and commented on the final product. The statute was later published in the W&L Law Review. We should do more things like this!

Q. What is the secret to such a long career at W&L?
Keep learning from the students — and count your blessings.

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