For The Record

Photograph by Jamie Betts
After more than four decades as a member of the Richmond Law community — first as a student, then as a professor — Margaret Ivey, L’79, is putting a bow on a remarkable career. As director of Richmond Law’s Clinical Placement Program, Ivey has administered a widespread externship network that allows students to apply legal skills and knowledge in real-life settings. After nearly 30 years of service, Ivey — the recipient of the university’s Story Award for Public Service in 2003 and the Virginia Bar Association’s Robert E. Shepherd Jr. Award in 2015 — will retire at the end of the spring 2020 semester.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in law?
My undergraduate thesis on Massive Resistance [an anti-school desegregation campaign led by Virginia politicians in the 1950s and 1960s] really piqued my interest. Observing social injustice — how disadvantaged people were treated — and working on several law-related matters really confirmed I wanted to be a lawyer. I also was interested in juvenile justice and initially thought I might want to be a juvenile court judge.

What was Richmond Law like when you were a student?
It was more formal. When you were called on by your professors, you stood up. There was only one woman on the faculty and far fewer women law students. There was also less engagement with the community. I don’t recall there being the same opportunities to get involved with pro bono activities and the various bar groups.

Why did you decide to become a law professor?
When I was in college, I was trying to decide whether I wanted to go to law school or into higher education. Later, an opportunity became available for me to work with the clinical placement program as an adjunct, and that opened the door for me.

What has changed most as you’ve taught throughout the years?
I think there is a greater appreciation for the value of experiential education. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “The life of the law is not logic. It’s experience.” I think integrating legal theory with practical experience is really crucial to the development of young lawyers, and it is rewarding to see the expansion of these opportunities for students.

What’s the best part of being a law professor?
Working with students has been one of the greatest joys of my career. Plus, I have wonderful colleagues. I am so lucky to be in such an intellectually rich environment, surrounded by bright, creative people.

What are your favorite memories?
I just enjoy teaching and my daily interactions with students. It’s exciting to watch them develop personally and professionally, gaining new insights about themselves and the law. I especially love those “aha!” moments when they can see themselves as future lawyers and realize, “I can do this, and I can do it well.”