University of Richmond School of Law Celebrates 150 Years

October 5, 2020

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND ─ The University of Richmond School of Law is celebrating a major milestone — 150 years of educating lawyers.

The official anniversary date is Oct. 10. On that day in 1870, the law school, originally founded as part of Richmond College, opened with an inaugural class of 30 students at the corner of Grace Street and Lombardy Avenue in Richmond’s Fan District.

Today, the school has a network of more than 7,000 alumni and educates hundreds of students each year, combining a rigorous academic program with an extensive selection of clinical placements and experiential learning opportunities.

“Now, more than ever, is a vital time to celebrate an institution that works to advance the cause of justice,” said Wendy Perdue, dean of the law school. “We’ve built a community of lawyers who are fierce advocates for their clients, who give back to their communities, and who think critically and act ethically to serve our profession.”

Here are just a few ways that Richmond Law students and alumni make an impact.

  • Alumni from Richmond Law account for 21% of “Super Lawyers” in Virginia. “Super Lawyers,” a rating service run by Thomas Reuters, is an index of attorneys who exhibit excellence in the practice of law.
  • Richmond Law has produced more Virginia judges than any other law school.
  • Students regularly contribute more than 13,000 hours of legal service each year through the school’s clinics and pro bono programs each year. For example, a group of Richmond students is currently working to provide legal services and other needs related to COVID-19 to low-income seniors.

To celebrate the sesquicentennial, in light of the pandemic, the law school is hosting several virtual opportunities for current students, faculty, staff, and alums, including a building tour and a panel discussion on what the next 150 years will hold for Richmond Law. A celebratory gala in honor of the anniversary has been postponed to October 2021.  

“A lot has changed over the last 150 years,” Purdue said. “For starters, the founders of the school would be more than a little surprised to learn that the current dean is a woman, as are over half the students, and that over a quarter of our students identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color. But amidst the changes, one thing remains the same: the vital importance of a strong legal education in the success of our democracy and the rule of law.”

Explore Richmond Law’s history — including a growing library of oral archive videos and an illustrated timeline — at