James W. McGlothlin ’62, J.D. ’64, LL.D. ’00 was honored with the 2015 Citizen Lawyer Award during William & Mary Law School’s Diploma Ceremony on May 17. Signifying the Law School Association’s highest recognition, the award is given annually to a graduate or friend of the Law School who has made “a lifetime commitment to citizenship and leadership.”
“The ideal of the citizen lawyer, born at William & Mary Law School in the late 1700s, has been lived by Jim McGlothlin,” said Taylor Reveley, William & Mary President and former dean of the Law School. “Jim’s active, meaningful participation in the lives of those institutions and communities he holds dear has been quite wonderful.”
A native of Buchanan County, Va., McGlothlin received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from William & Mary in 1962 and a law degree from William & Mary Law School in 1964. He returned to his hometown of Grundy, Va., to practice as a partner in the law firm of Street, Street, & McGlothlin.
In 1970, he became Founding Partner of United Coal Company, which later was merged into The United Company, and has served as the Chairman/CEO and now sole owner. During his professional business life, he also served as a director on such boards as CSX Corporation, Bassett Furniture, Dominion Bankshares, Star Oil & Gas, and others.
Today, McGlothlin divides his time between business activities and philanthropy. He serves on the Board of Directors of Mountain Mission School (a school for girls and boys in Grundy), The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the PGA Tour, and is a National Trustee of First Tee, which uses golf to provide character building and life skills to young people.
In addition, McGlothlin and his wife, Fran, have created programs where charities and future leaders can be educated and equipped with the knowledge and skills to successfully fundraise and create more effective programs to help others.
“Jim McGlothlin has had an extraordinary life by any measure; he was not afraid to take risks and he has enjoyed tremendous success,” said Davison M. Douglas, dean of the Law School and Arthur B. Hanson Professor of Law. “But Jim always recognized that part of being a citizen lawyer is using one’s talent and time and treasure in the service of others.”
Since graduation from law school, McGlothlin has been an active member of the William & Mary community. He served as a member of the William & Mary Board of Visitors from 1984 to 1993. In 2000, the College honored him with a Doctor of Laws.
He has regularly met with faculty, staff, and students, speaking on a variety of subjects, including employee engagement, business plans, operations, and entrepreneurship. He has also participated in the executive-in-residence at William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business.
McGlothlin and his family have been longtime financial supporters of the university and Law School. Tercentenary Hall, home of the applied science, computer science, and geology departments, was re-dedicated in 1997 as McGlothlin-Street Hall to honor his family’s generosity across campus. The Law School’s McGlothlin Courtroom, the most technologically advanced educational trial and appellate courtroom in the world, is named in memory of McGlothlin’s grandparents, B. F. and Annie L. McGlothlin.
More recently, the McGlothlins established an endowment to provide for the ongoing preservation of the recently restored Brafferton Building, historic home of the university’s administration.
McGlothlin and his wife were also instrumental in creating the McGlothlin Leadership Forum at the Business and Law Schools. Since 2011, the annual October event has brought McGlothlin Leadership Forum Fellows to campus to engage with students and faculty in discussion, debate, and analysis on the most pressing issues of the 21st-century economy and the global political, legal, and free enterprise systems that comprise it.
Promising that the best is yet to come, the McGlothlins and the corporate staff of The United Company are reinventing the company to better serve others in the long term. Committed to supporting children, food and shelter, health, arts and sciences, and bricks and mortar, their philanthropy has already had large impact on a number of schools, universities, medical schools, hospitals, fine arts centers, and churches across Virginia.
“In the end, I see the greater purpose of the game to be, quite simply, the notion of giving back,” McGlothlin said in a recent United Company publication.
Wishing the Class of 2015 the very best during the Law School’s diploma ceremony, McGlothlin left them with a simple but powerful message. “Remember, you can achieve whatever your dreams are,” he said. “Just dream high enough and enjoy your lives.”
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.