Virginia Supreme Court Justices Honored at ASL Reception

GRUNDY, VA (August 27, 2019) — Three Virginia Supreme Court justices were honored last Thursday during a reception hosted by the Appalachian School of Law and the Buchanan County Bar Association.

The justices were in Grundy to conduct a Writ Panel on Friday in the newly renovated Circuit Courtroom of the Buchanan County Courthouse.

“This is an historic occasion in Buchanan County,” said ASL Dean Sandy McGlothlin, as she welcomed Chief Justice Donald Lemons; Justice Elizabeth McClanahan, who will be retiring next month and joining ASL as its new dean as McGlothlin retires as ASL dean; and Senior Justice Lawrence Koontz Jr.

McGlothlin also recognized Virginia Supreme Court Justice-Elect Teresa Chafin; other members of the judiciary; Virginia Bar Association President Richard Garriott Jr.; Virginia Bar Association President-Elect Alison McKee; local elected officials; members of the ASL Board of Trustees, including Chairman Jerry Kilgore; members of the Bar Association; the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority; a number of foundations who have supported the law school through the years; and ASL students, alumni, faculty and staff who were in attendance.

“Without your support, we would not have made the strides we have,” McGlothlin said. “This law school has come a long way since the doors were first opened in 1997. We just welcomed our 23rd entering class this past Monday and we have accomplished much in 22 years.”

She pointed to one of the most notable changes which relates to improving access to justice – a goal ASL set when it started. Access to justice, she said has seen a 21 percent positive change since ASL graduated its charter class in 2000. When ASL started, the attorney to population ratio was 1:245 in the U.S.; it was 1:353 in Virginia. In the seven-county Southwest Virginia area, it was 1:915. Twenty years later, that ratio in Southwest Virginia has improved to 1:745. McGlothlin noted there is still room for more improvement in that statistic, but she said the numbers show that new attorneys in the region since 2000 have increased and the statistics show that 60 percent of those new attorneys are ASL graduates.

McGlothlin noted ASL graduates are making a difference in other areas as well. Eight ASL graduates are Commonwealth’s Attorneys; 14 are judges – in eight states; and five are in their state legislatures in Virginia, West Virginia and Maine. Another benefit to the school and the community is found in the volunteer community service hours ASL students have provided. McGlothlin noted in the past 12 years, 223,000 community service hours have been attributable to ASL students.

“That’s 27,875 eight-hour days,” McGlothlin said.

“Clearly, we are fulfilling our mission,” she added, thanking all present for their support through the years.

Chief Justice Lemons also addressed the gathering noting, “Southwest Virginia has been under recognized by the rest of the state.” He said the Supreme Court looked for ways to elevate attention to the visibility of the area and determined a visit by the court to Grundy and the law school was one way to do that.

Lemons also recognized Grundy Attorney H.A. Street, who at the age of 93, he said is known as the Dean of the Buchanan County Bar Association. He said Street is a fixture not only in the community, but in the state and he recited a long list of Street’s community involvement through the years.

“He is always serving the community and giving of his time and his resources to support this community,” Lemons said.

He presented Street with a plaque recognizing that service.

Street also spoke briefly about the changes in the legal community through the years and referred to the access to justice ratio numbers McGlothlin gave, concluding his remarks by noting “people cannot get adequate liberty and can’t enforce their rights without good legal representation.”

He presented McClanahan with a painting for her office before yielding the podium back to Lemons.

Lemons recognized ASL Board of Trustees Chairman Jerry Kilgore for his commitment to the law school and presented Kilgore with the Access to Justice Award.

Kilgore credited the ASL team of faculty, staff, students and the community for the successes experienced.

“It’s a team effort here,” he said.

Lemons also introduced McClanahan, noting she is currently the 101st justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia and citing her many accomplishments through the years, noting that when she returns to Buchanan County next month to become the dean of ASL, she brings back home with her a legacy of service to the Commonwealth. Lemons called her a visionary, adding she is persistent, disciplined and determined.

“She is passionate about what she believes in and what she wants to accomplish,” Lemons said.

McClanahan thanked Lemons for his comments and noted she is happy to be coming home. She thanked those present for their contributions to the school, adding she also wanted to acknowledge the contributions made to the law school by Dean Sandy McGlothlin.

“She undeniably made the big difference for ASL over the last four years,” McClanahan said.



August 27, 2019

Media Contact: Cathy St. Clair – 276.202.0383 or

Posted February 13th 2021 Posted by Brian Presley