William & Mary Law School’s Lynda L. Butler Elected Member of American Law Institute

  • Lynda Butler
    Lynda Butler  is the Chancellor Professor of Law, Emerita, and Director of the William & Mary Property Rights Project. Her areas of specialization include Constitutional Law--Eminent Domain (Takings); Environmental Law (Climate Change); Land Use and Zoning; Natural Resources Law (Water Resources); Property Law.  
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Lynda L. Butler of William & Mary Law School has been elected to the American Law Institute (ALI). Butler, the Chancellor Professor of Law, Emerita, and Director of William & Mary Property Rights Project, joins 59 other new members, including William & Mary Law’s James Y. Stern, who will bring their expertise and add their voices to the important and ongoing work of the Institute.  

“Congratulations are definitely in order to Professor Butler for her election to the American Law Institute,” said A. Benjamin Spencer, Dean of William & Mary Law School and Trustee Professor, and member of the ALI. “Her devotion to William & Mary and the legal profession is unmatched, and her years of service and leadership will have a huge impact on ALI’s mission and effectiveness. It’s great to have her on board.”

The ALI is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize and improve the law. The ALI drafts, discusses, revises and publishes Restatements of the Law, Model Codes and Principles of Law that are enormously influential in the courts and legislatures, as well as in legal scholarship and education. 

An undergraduate alumna of William & Mary’s Class of 1973, Butler went on to earn her J.D. from the University of Virginia in 1978 and practiced law in Washington, D.C. She joined William & Mary Law School’s faculty in 1979, retiring in 2021. Over her 41 years at the Law School, she earned the distinction of being the longest-serving female faculty member at William & Mary. She was also a visiting professor at Ohio State University.

Butler also has the distinction of being one of the first women hired to teach on the William & Mary law faculty in a full-time, tenure-track position. In addition to teaching thousands of students over the years, she served in numerous leadership positions, among them: vice dean from 2000-08 and interim dean of the Law School from 2008-09 (she is the first woman to serve as a law school dean in Virginia). She also served as president of the University’s Faculty Assembly, director of the William & Mary Property Rights Project, member (ex officio) of the Board of Governors of the Real Property Section of the Virginia State Bar, and co-chair of William & Mary’s Committee on Sustainability.

William & Mary honored Butler at the 2019 Commencement ceremony with the Thomas Ashley Graves, Jr., Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching. The award is named for the university’s 23rd president, and recipients are selected annually by the president of the university from nominations submitted by each of the academic deans.

Butler has distinguished herself through decades of scholarship, primarily in the areas of property and environmental law. She has authored important articles in the Arizona, Brigham Young University, Illinois, Southern California and William & Mary law reviews, among others and is co-author of Virginia Tidal and Coastal Law (Michie Co., 1988).

According to an ALI press release, participation in the work of the ALI gives Butler and fellow members the opportunity to “influence the development of the law in both existing and emerging areas, to work with other eminent lawyers, judges and academics, to give back to a profession to which they are deeply dedicated, and to contribute to the public good.” 

“This impressive group of newly elected members will add to the breadth of expertise in The American Law Institute’s membership,” said ALI President David F. Levi. “Our return to an in-person Annual Meeting this year affirmed the strength of the ALI’s spirit of collaboration and connection. I am excited to welcome this group’s participation in our ongoing projects and look forward to celebrating the ALI’s 100th anniversary with them at next year’s Annual Meeting.”

Other William & Mary Law faculty elected to the ALI include: Peter A. Alces, Jayne W. Barnard, Jeffrey Bellin, Aaron-Andrew Paul Bruhl, Vivian Hamilton, Linda A. Malone, Paul Marcus, Nathan B. Oman, Larry I. Palmer and A. Benjamin Spencer.

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 first law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.