WILLIAMSBURG -- "The Layman's Guide to Virginia Law," a work for nonlawyers, has been written and edited by 19 former students of the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary.

The book, the first such account for any state, was published by the Michie Company of Charlottesville, and is designed to make Virginia law more understandable to the average resident.

The guide includes an analysis of 19 areas of law, including property, taxes, wills and estates, landlord/tenant relations, motor vehicles, family relationships, and women's rights.

Attorneys Mrs. Nora Bailes Lewis of Union, S.C. and Ms. Janet L. Brown of Orlando, Fla. and D. Brian Costello, special assistant Attorney General from Newport News, all former Marshall-Wythe students, co-edited the volume.

According to Costello, the book's primary purpose is to equip residents with a knowledge of their rights and remedies under the law, in the hope that such knowledge will help dispel the mystery surrounding the legal profession and prompt people to seek legal advice before a crisis develops.

It took Four Years

The book was four years in the making and was first suggested by Dr. William F. Swindler, John Marshall professor of law at William and Mary. In the spring of 1973, Swindler was a visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma law school, whose students were trying to compile a guide. The Oklahoma book, despite encouragement by the American Bar Association, has not been published.

The William and Mary students like Swindler's idea and began the project. Each chapter was written by a student, reviewed by three editors, and checked for accuracy by one or more faculty members or practicing attorneys.

Financing for the guide was provided by the Marshall-Wythe Student Bar Association. Profits from sales will be donated to the college, in trust for use by the law school library.

On Monday, the three co-editors were in Williamsburg to present the first copies to college President Dr. Thomas A. Graves Jr., Richmond attorney R. Harvey Campbell, president of the Virginia State Bar and to William B. Spong Jr.... dean of the law school and immediate past president of the Virginia Bar Association.


Document Type

News Article

Publication Information

Richmond Times-Dispatch at C-5 (September 13, 1977)