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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University

Obligation and Opportunity

Richard H. Middleton Jr. ’73, ’76L

from The Bridge: Fall/Winter 2011 issue

Middleton (left) with Interim Law Dean Mark Grunewald (right) at Middleton’s induction into the Order of the Coif.Richard H. Middleton Jr. '73, '76L donated $600,000 toward the Third-Year Law Addition, designating his gift for the proposed trial courtroom. Middleton, a practicing trial attorney with the Middleton Firm in Savannah, Ga., returns to Lexington every spring, if he is not in court himself, to lecture in the Trial Practice class of adjunct professor Wilson (Wick) Vellines '68, '73L. Middleton therefore knows firsthand both the benefits and the requirements of the new program.

"The Third-Year Program is a great addition to the Law School program," says Middleton. "It is critical that graduates have a practical understanding of law, not merely a theoretical grounding." He would have liked to have benefited from such a program himself. When he was at the Law School, it offered only a single practice-oriented class, in trial practice. "We were able to try two cases in front of a jury of high school students," Middleton recalls. "I would have tailored my course load at Washington and Lee somewhat differently if I had been able to experience trial practice earlier in law school. I would have structured my curriculum toward what I do every day in the courtroom.

"Students who have the opportunity to experience courtroom proceedings might find that it reveals certain strengths and showcases unexpected abilities," Middleton reflects. He expects the Middleton-Vellines Trial Court Room to enhance students' courtroom experience, but he also "wanted to provide more resources to all the adjuncts who contribute so richly to the educational experience of the law students. I wanted to honor not only Wick Vellines, but all the adjuncts who are not always given the full credit they so richly deserve."

Middleton adds, "I have a deep and abiding love for the University. Having been successful in trial law, I felt it my obligation, not simply an honor, to give back to the school that created that opportunity for me."