Professor Emeritus John Levy Dies at 77

  • John Levy
    John Levy  Professor Levy taught at William & Mary Law School for 26 years and was critical to the success of the school's Legal Skills Program. He also served as the director of clinical education and as director of the Law School's summer abroad and LL.M. programs.  Photo by David F. Morrill
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John Levy, William & Mary Law School professor emeritus, passed away on April 2, 2017. His career as a professor at William & Mary Law School (1976-2002) touched the lives of many in the William & Mary community.

Colleagues and former students share their memories of Professor Levy.

“The death of a friend hits hard, but this one hits particularly hard,” said Davison M. Douglas, Dean and Arthur B. Hanson Professor of Law. “John was truly a wonderful man.”

Levy was born in Washington, D.C., and after graduating from New York University joined the Peace Corps and served in Nigeria, West Africa as a teacher. There he met and married his wife of 53 years, Kaye. He subsequently received his J.D. from Syracuse University.

Prior to joining the William & Mary faculty in 1976 as Director of Clinical Education (Lawyering Process), Levy was Director of Neighborhood Legal Aid in Richmond, Va., and was a member of the Board of Directors of various legal service programs, including the Center on Social Welfare Policy and the Law, the National Employment Law Project, the Virginia Poverty Law Center, the Peninsula Legal Aid Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (which published its own remembrance of Levy here). Read the ACLU of Virginia's 2015 resolution honoring his four decades of service here.

Levy’s work with Legal Aid and the ACLU-VA extended over many years, as did his time as a board member of the Williamsburg/JCC Community Action Agency.

The clinical education program that he initiated at William & Mary is the product of Levy’s commitment to the idea that law students must gain some sense of the real world in which lawyers practice. Prior to his retirement as Chancellor Professor of Law, Levy was serving not only as Director of Clinical Education, but also as director of the Summer Law Program Abroad and the Graduate LL.M. Program.

In 1998, the Virginia State Bar awarded him the Lewis Powell Pro Bono Award for his dedication to the recruitment of pro bono attorneys, and the following year the Law School named him recipient of the Law School’s John Marshall Award for “exceptional character, leadership, and a spirit of selfless service.”

During Commencement exercises on May 12, 2002, Levy received the 11th annual Citizen-Lawyer Award from the Law School Association and the Walter L. Williams, Jr. Teaching Award from the Class of 2002. Earlier that day, the College recognized his pedagogical skills with the Thomas Ashley Graves, Jr. Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching.

The Law School’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program was established in his honor.

Levy is survived by his wife, Kaye, daughter, Shanti (Dan) of Reston, Va,. son, Adam (Melanie) of Winchester, Va., sister, Sue Halpern of Potomac, Md., and six grandchildren, Chelsea, Zak, Ella, Calum, Oliver, and Drew.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, April 22, at 2:00 at the Martha Wren Briggs Amphitheatre at Lake Matoaka at William & Mary in Williamsburg, with a rain location in Trinkle Hall.

Memorial contributions may be sent to the Levy Loan Repayment Fund, William & Mary Law School, P.O. Box 3527, Williamsburg, VA 23187. Additional organizations include: ACLU-VA ( and the Williamsburg/JCC Community Action Agency (

If you have a remembrance of Professor Levy that you would like to share, please send it to Jaime Welch-Donahue at Remembrances will be posted on the law school web site and collected for Levy’s wife, Kaye.

About William & Mary Law School

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.