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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University

A Terrific Legal Education

Walter D. Kelley Jr. ’77, ’81L

from The Bridge: Fall/Winter 2011 issue

Walter D. Kelley Jr. ’77, ’81LThe Hon. Walter D. Kelley Jr. '77, '81L, a former United States District Court Judge, is now a partner in the Washington office of Jones Day, one of the largest law firms in the world. Kelley has made a six-figure commitment to the Lewis Hall building project, as well as a substantial gift to the Annual Fund. "I thought it was important to give back to the Law School by continuing in a small way what Francis and Sydney Lewis started when they donated Lewis Hall in the first place," says Kelley.

"I received a terrific legal education at W&L," he continues. "It was not just about the law, but about character. There are a lot of different ways to teach. You can teach straight from the book or from a framework in which the student learns to embrace a life that extends beyond financial rewards." Kelley, a member of the Executive Committee when he was an undergraduate, believes that one particular aspect of the W&L experience makes a lasting difference in the lives of Washington and Lee's students. "Long after the book learning fades from memory, the values instilled by the Honor System retain their importance. Washington and Lee gave me many opportunities, but I am convinced that the Honor System is the greatest aspect of an education at W&L."

Kelley has designated most of his gift for the Third-Year Building Addition. "The Law School is in transition in terms of how it is teaching students, moving from a purely academic format to a more hands-on practical method," says Kelley. "Law school typically teaches you how to be a law professor. The new Third-Year Program gives students the opportunity to apply the legal principles they have learned. It teaches them to operate in the real world. I designated my gift for Lewis Hall because the school needs the facility to make this transition."

Kelley previously helped establish the Walter E. Hoffman Scholarship in honor of the life and distinguished career of this W&L alumnus (Law Class of 1931) and longtime U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia. The scholarship goes to students from Virginia, with preference to students from the Hampton Roads area, on the basis of character, academic promise, capacity for leadership and financial need. "My next project is to make sure the Hoffman Scholarship is fully funded at some point in the future," says Kelley.

"Lewis Hall was the most pressing project at the moment, but the Hoffman Scholarship is important to ensure that deserving students have the help they need to fund their law education. I'd love to have more alumni contribute to the school. I understand that it is an individual decision," Kelley acknowledges. "However, Washington and Lee made a very big difference in my life, and I am delighted to be able to do something to help students to come."