Virginia Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth A. McClanahan, who will be retiring from the Court September 1, will become the new Dean of the Appalachian School of Law effective September 2, 2019, according to an announcement made this week by ASL Board of Trustees Chairman Jerry Kilgore.
McClanahan, a Buchanan County native, will replace the current Dean, Sandra McGlothlin, who announced to the board late last year she planned to retire at the end of the current academic year. McGlothlin, who has served the law school as Dean since December 2015, agreed to stay on until September.
“Justice McClanahan will continue the commitment to excellence that Dean McGlothlin brought to the school as our Dean,” Kilgore said. “Growing up in Buchanan County, Justice McClanahan can hit the ground running with a true understanding of the ASL mission and its interaction with the Southwest Virginia community. In searching for a new Dean, we could not have found a better fit for ASL.
“Justice McClanahan boasts an impressive background as an experienced attorney, a former Chief Deputy Attorney General, an appellate judge and a Virginia Supreme Court Justice,” Kilgore continued. “I know the ASL Board looks forward to working with her to move ASL forward.”
Former Virginia Gov. George Allen, who is a member of the ASL Board of Trustees, agreed noting McClanahan is “one of the most admirable persons I've ever met during my entire life in public service and in the private sector.
“Current and future law students, faculty and staff at the Appalachian School of Law will soon appreciate Justice McClanahan's exemplary character, knowledge and energetic leadership as well as her genuine love for the region,” Allen said. “The Appalachian School of Law family is blessed that well-connected and respected Justice McClanahan will bring her devoted, effective talent to guide the Appalachian School of Law to unprecedented heights. This is a fantastic day for the Appalachian region that highly sought Justice McClanahan has chosen to devote her time to improving opportunities for the students at the law school and the whole community. "
McGlothlin said the board had made an excellent choice in selecting McClanahan as the new Dean at ASL.
“I have enjoyed my tenure as Dean of the Appalachian School of Law and I will continue to support the law school as I continue to teach as a professor there and through my work with it in the future to support alumni relations,” McGlothlin said. “I have known Elizabeth for a long time and have worked with her through the years in her capacity as an adjunct faculty member and as the Street Memorial Distinguished Visitor in Real Estate Law here at ASL. I have no doubt she will do a wonderful job as the law school’s new dean. I think the board made an excellent choice.”
McClanahan has been the Street Memorial Distinguished Visitor in Real Estate Law since 2011. With a significant background in oil and gas law, she has been involved in the ASL natural resources law center and has taught four different classes in that time related to mineral law.
The opportunity to become the school’s next dean she said, came about when members of the ASL board, knowing she planned to retire from the Virginia Supreme Court, contacted her about her interest to join ASL as its next dean.
“Wherever my career has taken me, my heart has always been in ‘The Great Southwest’ and my continuing association with the Appalachian School of Law has always been a source of pride and joy for me,” McClanahan said. “Serving as Dean will allow me to mentor, grow and connect with two of my greatest passions: law students and Buchanan County. I have great respect for the law school’s mission and I am deeply honored to be entrusted with its care.”
McClanahan noted the law school and Buchanan County owe McGlothlin a debt of gratitude for McGlothlin’s leadership at ASL.
“Dean McGlothlin has done a superb job in one of the toughest legal education markets we have seen in our lifetime,” McClanahan said.
Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons offered congratulations on the selection of McClanahan as ASL’s next Dean.
“I join my colleagues on the Supreme Court of Virginia in hearty congratulations to Justice Elizabeth McClanahan as she assumes the position of Dean of the Appalachian School of Law.” Lemons said. “Born and raised in Buchanan County, she has brought distinction to the great Southwest of Virginia with her many accomplishments and her impressive history of public service. Virginians can be proud of her contributions as Chair of the State Council of Higher Education, Vice Rector of William and Mary, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Judge of the Court of Appeals of Virginia, and the 101st Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia. And now she returns home to Buchanan County to continue her legacy of service to the Commonwealth – this time with a new title, ‘Dean.’ While we lose a valuable colleague and a cherished friend, we celebrate this new chapter in her life.”
McClanahan has served as a Virginia Supreme Court Justice since 2011 and prior to that served for eight years as a judge on the Court of Appeals of Virginia. She was Chief Deputy Attorney General in the Office of the Attorney General from January 2002 through March 2003. Prior to that, she was a shareholder and director in the law firm of Penn, Stuart & Eskridge from June 1989 to January 2002, having also started her career there. She began her legal career in 1980 as a staff associate at the National Center for State Courts, Research and Information Services.
McClanahan earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the College of William and Mary in 1980 and studied at the Institute for the Study of Hard Mineral Law at the Salmon P. Chase School of Law at Northern Kentucky University before earning her Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Dayton School of Law in 1984. She was admitted to practice law in Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland, West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky.
She has taught as an adjunct professor of business law at Southwest Virginia Community College; was the El Paso Natural Gas Fellow from 1993-1994 at the University of Colorado School of Law Natural Resources Law Center; and was on the faculty for summer management program in 2009, 2010 and 2012 at the Wake Forest School of Business and Accountancy.
McClanahan received the University of Dayton School of Law Distinguished Alumni Award in 2017 and in 2011 was named one of Virginia Lawyers Media “Influential Women of Virginia.” She has also received numerous awards and accolades during her career from a variety of civic and professional organizations. At ASL, she received the Appalachian Service Award in 2004.
She has served on a number of higher education boards and was a member of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia from 1994-1998, where she also served as chairman from 1996-1998; was a member of the Virginia Council of Visitors from 1998-2002; served on the College of William and Mary Board of Visitors from 1998-2002, where she also served as vice rector from 2001-2002; was a member of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education from 1998-2000, where she also served as chairman of the task force on governance issues; and served on the Emory & Henry College board of trustees from 1998-2003.
She currently serves on the board of trustees of the Virginia Historical Society. She has also published and delivered presentations extensively on oil and gas law topics.