Office of Legal Counsel
Phone: (859) 257-2936
William E. Thro, the General Counsel of the University of Kentucky, is an accomplished university attorney, appellate advocate, and legal scholar.
As the Chief Legal Officer for the University of Kentucky, he provides proactive strategic 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. Before assuming his present position in 2012, he spent more than twenty years representing public universities including eight years as the first in-house counsel at Christopher Newport University.
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 numerous 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.
As a legal scholar, he focuses on constitutional law in educational contexts. He has more than sixty publications in law reviews or peer reviewed journals as well as numerous monographs, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries. In recognition of his scholarly work, he received Stetson University’s Kaplin Award for Excellence in Higher Education Law & Policy Scholarship (2014) and became a Fellow of both the National Education Finance Conference (2012) and the National Association of College and University Attorneys (2007).
He has served as President of the Education Law Association, Chair of the Virginia Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Section, Board Chair for a local Red Cross Chapter, on the Boards of both the National Association of College & University Attorneys and the National Education Finance Academy, and an Elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
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 and has two children in college (Sandra, Will) and one in high school (Noah).