William E. Thro
Office of Legal Counsel
Phone: (859) 257-2936
William E. Thro, the General Counsel of the University of Kentucky, is an accomplished attorney, academic, and appellate advocate.
As the Chief Legal Officer for the University of Kentucky, he provides proactive advice on critical legal and policy issues confronting a public flagship land grant research university with an integrated academic medical center and a high profile 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. He is a past President of the Education Law Association and his profile appears in in Beyond The Big Firm: Profiles of Lawyers Who Want Something More (Alan B. Morrison & Diane T. Chin, eds., 2007).
As an academic, his research focuses on constitutional law in educational contexts in both the United States and South Africa. He was an Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies at Christopher Newport University and serves as an Adjunct Professor in the University of Kentucky College of Law. In recognition of his scholarly work, he received Stetson University’s Kaplin Award (2014), the National Association of College and University Attorneys’ Fellow Award (2007), and the National Education Finance Conference’s Distinguished Research Fellow Award (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 native of Kentucky, 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. Dr. Julie Urback Thro, a Presbyterian minister, and has two adult children (Sandra, Will) and a teen-age son (Noah).