For The Record

In September, University of Richmond Law Review celebrated the 50th anniversary of the appointment of the Honorable Robert J. Merhige Jr., L’42, to the federal bench. Merhige, who served on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia from 1967 to 1986, is remembered for his work on desegregation cases in the 1970s and ordering the University of Virginia to admit women. A panel of former clerks shared stories from their years working with Judge Merhige.

Michael Smith
Partner, Christian and Barton
“For you that want to try cases, if you asked him what one characteristic does a trial lawyer have to have, he would no doubt say to you, ‘If you assume the young lawyer is willing to work hard and if you assume they have a modicum of good sense, then the one thing a young trial lawyer has to be is resilient. You’ve got to be able to pick up a file and go into a courtroom and lose, and not lose your confidence. You have to pick up a file the next day and go back.’”

J.G. Ritter II
Partner, Hunton and Williams
“He wasn’t concerned about what people thought about him, but he had a huge interest in the way people perceived the court.”

Anne B. Holton
Visiting professor of education policy, George Mason University
“Courage just came so naturally to him. He didn’t see fear.”

Rita Ruby
Partner, Hunton and Williams
“I think he would be worried about a lot of things that he sees right now and some mistakes that seem to be repeated that you would have thought would have been gone decades ago. But at the same time, I think he would be hopeful because he knew he lived in the greatest country in the world and that we have the greatest legal system in the world and he had faith in all of that. I think he’d give us hope.”

Gregory Golden
Corporate counsel, international, Northrop Grumman
“I learned a lot just watching the judge interact with the best lawyers in town and the unrepresented in town. Everyone got the same treatment.”