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A history of the Law School at William & Mary is available at its website. The first woman to earn a Bachelors of Civil Law, the predecessor to the Juris Doctor, was Virginia Mister in 1937. The first African American to receive a Bachelors of Civil Law was Edward Travis in 1954.


Two story brick and glass building
Law School
Constructed: 1978-1980
Dedication: September 13, 1980
Map it for me

The  Law School is located east of campus beside the National Center for State Courts at 613 South Henry Street. It was located in the Old Gymnasium from 1922 to 1931, in James Blair Hall from 1935 to 1968, and in St. George Tucker Hall from 1968 to 1980.

The official opening ceremony for the Law School occurred on January 14, 1922 when the school was still housed in the Old Gymnasium. The ceremony was attended by 125 members of the Virginia General Assembly and Senate as well as other governmental officials. At that time, courses taught at the law school were arranged to prepare students for legislative legislative, educational and diplomatic lines of work.

In 1974, an article in the Flat Hat noted the overcrowded conditions in the law school. Classes were being taught to 450 students in a building intended for 200. In 1975 Wright, Jones, and Wilkerson designed the new law school to alleviate this problem. The groundbreaking ceremony for the Law School was held on September 11, 1976, but construction was delayed until March 1978 due to lack of funding. The Law School moved in during the summer of 1980, vacating the spaces in Tucker Hall, the basement of Chancellors Hall, rooms in Dawson Hall, Camm Hall, and Bryan Hall of the Bryan Complex, and the third floor of James Blair Hall. The dedication ceremony for the building was held on Burgesses Day on September 13, 1980.

The Law School has 87,954 square feet of space, and nearly half of the is devoted to the library. Also within the Law School are a moot courtroom, two lecture rooms seating 154 people each, two more lecture rooms seating 85 people each, and smaller seminar rooms for approximately 30 students each. Photos from William & Mary on Flickr.


Note that early professors were the sole faculty member offering instruction in law to students.

1779-1789 George Wythe

1790-1804 St. George Tucker

1804-1813 William Nelson

1813-1818 Robert Nelson

1818-1834 James Semple

1834-1851 Nathaniel Beverley Tucker (1784-1851)

1852-1855 George Parker Scarburgh

1855-1858 Lucian Minor

1860-1861 Charles Morris

1861-1921 Law School closed

1923-1929 John Garland Pollard

1932-1942 Theodore Sullivan Cox

1942-1946 Dudley W. Woodbridge, Acting Dean

1946-1947 Theodore Sullivan Cox

1947-1948 Arthur Warren Phelps

1948-1963 Dudley W. Woodbridge, Acting Dean 1948-1950

1964-1969 Joseph Curtis, Acting Dean 1962-1963

1970-1976 James P. Whyte, Jr.

1976-1985 William Spong

1985-1992 Timothy Sullivan

1992-1993 Richard Williamson, Acting Dean

1993-1994 Paul Marcus, Acting Dean

1994-1997 Thomas G. Krattenmaker

1997-1998 Paul Marcus, Interim Dean

1998-September 2008 W. Taylor Reveley, III

February 2008-June 2009 Lynda Butler, Interim Dean

July 2009-June 2020 Davison M. Douglas

July 2020-present A. Benjamin Spencer


For research related to the School of Law's curriculum, the below are suggested resources in getting your research started.

  • Legal education in Virginia, 1779-1979 : a biographical approach, [compiled and edited by] W. Hamilton Bryson. Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia, 1982.
  • See University Archives Subject File Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
  • College of William & Mary Catalogs and Bulletins.
  • Various College of William & Mary administrative records.
  • Transitions in early American legal education : the development of university-sponsored law schools in the early nineteenth century United States, Andrew T. Redman. Elon, N.C. : Elon University, 2008.


  • "Opening Marshall-Wythe School Attended By State Solons --Hear Judge Parker," The Flat Hat, 20 January 1922.
  • "Overcrowding at Marshall-Wythe," The Flat Hat, 13 December 1974.

External Links / Further Reading


Want to find out more?

To search for further material, visit the Special Collections Research Center's Search Tool List for other resources to help you find materials of interest.

Questions? Have ideas or updates for articles you'd like to see? Contact the Special Collections Research Center at or 757-221-3090.

A note about the contents of this site

This website contains the best available information from known sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information in this website is not complete, and it changes as we continue to research and uncover new sources.