William E. Hoffmann, Jr. '67, J.D. '77 was honored with the Law School Association's 2014 Citizen-Lawyer Award during the Law School's Diploma Ceremony on May 11. The award, the Association's highest recognition, is given annually to a graduate or friend of the Law School who has made "a lifetime commitment to citizenship and leadership."
Dean Davison M. Douglas presented the award to Hoffmann. He commended him as an accomplished litigator who also diligently pursued pro bono work during a distinguished career that included nearly 30 years practicing law at King & Spalding in Atlanta. From 2008 to 2012, Hoffmann served as King & Spalding's firm-wide pro bono partner.
Hoffmann used his legal talents on a pro bono basis, the Dean said, to seek justice in both international and domestic cases, ranging from serving as Independent Counsel to the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the prosecution of Charles Taylor, to obtaining political asylum or other relief for refugees from around the globe in American courts.
The Dean described Hoffmann's "extraordinary life" that took him, for example, from American prisons, where he represented death row inmates, to international courts, where he worked for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
A graduate of the College of William & Mary, where he majored in philosophy, Hoffmann went on to earn a philosophy Ph.D. at the University of Georgia. He taught philosophy for three years at Ithaca College before returning to Williamsburg to pursue his law degree. He graduated first in his law school class and served as Editor-in-Chief of the William & Mary Law Review.
Since his retirement in 2012 from King & Spalding, Hoffmann has served as Senior Counsel to the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network, as General Counsel for the Southern Center for Human Rights, and as Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Parliamentary Support in Africa.
The concept of the citizen lawyer is rooted in Thomas Jefferson's original mission for the Law School that he created in 1779 at the College of William & Mary. Jefferson and the man he recruited to establish the school, his mentor George Wythe, wanted students not only to be skilled practitioners of the law, but also leaders for the common good of their communities, states and nation.
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.