William and Mary Law School

Text of Presentation of Citizen-Lawyer Award by Law School Association President Kevin O'Neill '99

On behalf of my fellow alumni, let me offer our congratulations to each graduate here today and welcome you to the Alumni Association.  You are completing three special years in Williamsburg and hopefully you leave here with fond memories of your time at our alma mater and well prepared to be productive lawyers and citizens for the challenging world that awaits your professional arrival.  When the bar exam is over and you are firmly implanted in your first job, we hope you will find an opportunity to remain engaged with the Law School via the Alumni Association.  There are so many ways to channel your talent, enthusiasm and love of the school into a meaningful contribution that helps the generations of students who will come after you.

From the first day you entered Marshall-Wythe you can recall that the school has emphasized the concept of growing into a Citizen Lawyer.  I am contractually obligated to drop one reference to Thomas Jefferson and George Wythe in this introduction so let me explain that the founders of this law school in 1779 intended for this institution to train students not just to be skilled practitioners of the law but also to be leaders committed to the common good our nation, our commonwealth and our local communities.  One of the school's initial students was John Marshall who would become a Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and certainly a man who fit the definition of a citizen lawyer.

Now three years ago, you were engaged in a daily struggle with Client A memos, arguments over what personal jurisdiction meant, and you were trying to interpret exactly where you left your penumbras on the way to Con Law class.  Back then, the idea of being a Citizen Lawyer no doubt seemed like a far-away abstraction.  But as you sit here today, as new graduates, the idea of being a lawyer whose obligations to serve more than your clients should be very real.  Many years ago, the Law School's Alumni Association created the Citizen Lawyer Award to recognize individual graduates whose lifework demonstrates the ideals Jefferson and Wythe set out in 1779.  The award is the highest honor an alumnus can receive from the Law School.  It is awarded at graduation and exemplifies the idea that each one of us is capable of living lives as citizen lawyers.

This year's recipient of the Citizen Lawyer Award is Tom Frantz, a truly outstanding example of what it means to love the law, serve your community and give back to our alma mater.   Tom is one of the few people who can claim to have three different degrees from William & Mary, having received a B.A. in 1970, followed by a law degree in 1973 and masters in legal taxation in 1981.   While at William & Mary he ran track and cross-country.  Tom is the current president and chief operating officer of Williams Mullen, one of Virginia's leading law firms.  Professionally, he has specialized in business succession planning and tax litigation as well as corporate law and mergers and acquisitions.  Tom's list of honors in the legal community are too numerous to mention but where there is a reputable list of best lawyers in Virginia or leading corporate attorneys in the nation, Tom Frantz's name can be found on that list.

He is the past president of the Hampton Roads Tax Forum and a director of the long-running William and Mary Tax Conference.  In 2004, Tom was recognized as the First Citizen of Virginia Beach and he has also served as King Neptune for the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival.  He is a current or past member of the Hampton Roads Partnership, the Hampton Roads Sports Facility Authority, the Virginia Beach Foundation, Virginia Beach Vision, the Virginia Aquarium, the Mason School of Business here at William and Mary and the Eastern Virginia Medical School.  For many of those groups he served as chairman, president or in other dedicated leadership capacities.

Tom has served William & Mary in multiple capacities as an alumnus, including serving on the reunion committee for his 25th and 35th reunions, and working as an advisor to the School of Business.  He is a long-time member of the Dean's Council at the Law School which marks him as a consistent financial supporter for the school.  Just last week he opened his house to host a reception for Hampton Roads-area alumni of the Law School.

Serving your community often means sacrificing time away from your family and so honoring Tom is also about honoring his family for allowing him the time to serve others.  Tom is joined here today by his wife Dianne and his three children, one of whom is a 2008 graduate of the College of William & Mary.