William E. Thro
Office of Legal Counsel
Phone: (859) 257-2936
William E. Thro is General Counsel of the University of Kentucky and President of the Education Law Association. He is an accomplished education lawyer, constitutional scholar, and appellate advocate.
As the Chief Legal Officer for the University of Kentucky, he provides proactive advice on critical strategic, legal and public policy issues confronting a public land grant research university with an academic medical center and a Bowl Championship Series athletics program. Prior to assuming his present position in 2012, he spent more than twenty years representing public universities including eight years as University Counsel of Christopher Newport University. Having spent his entire career in public service, his profile appears in in Beyond The Big Firm: Profiles of Lawyers Who Want Something More (Alan B. Morrison & Diane T. Chin, eds., 2007).
His scholarship focuses on constitutional law in educational contexts with a particular emphasis on school finance litigation and federalism issues. Since 1989, he has authored more than fifty law review publications as well as numerous monographs, book chapters, encyclopedia entries, and magazine articles. He is a frequent speaker at academic and professional conferences. In recognition of his scholarly contributions, he is a Fellow of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (2007) and a Distinguished Research Fellow of the National Education Finance Academy (2012).
As Solicitor General of Virginia for four years, he was responsible for the Virginia State Government’s U.S. Supreme Court litigation (except capital cases) as well as lower court appeals involving the constitutionality of statutes or politically sensitive issues. He argued two cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and thirty-three cases in the lower appellate courts. He co-authored seven U.S. Court merits briefs, eleven U.S. Supreme Court amicus briefs, and more than fifty briefs at the petition stage. He received two Best Brief Awards from the National Association of Attorneys General and chaired the Virginia Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Section.
A Kentucky native, he received his undergraduate degree summa cum laude from Hanover College. In addition to receiving the Crowe Citation as the outstanding male in his class, he was the first Hanover student to become a Harry S. Truman Scholar. He earned a graduate degree with honours from the University of Melbourne while attending as a Rotary Foundation International Ambassadorial Scholar. His law degree is from the University of Virginia where he was a published member of the Virginia Law Review and research assistant to constitutional law professor A.E. Dick Howard. He began his legal career as a judicial clerk to the late Judge Ronald E. Meredith of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky in Louisville.
He is married to the Rev. Julie Urback Thro, a Presbyterian minister, and has three teen-age children (Sandra, Will, and Noah).