William & Mary Law School recently received two generous scholarships totaling $2 million from Jim Penney J.D. ’83, LauraLeigh Young, as well as Howard Spainhour ’54, B.C.L. ’56 and Nancy Spainhour ’54. The couples’ gifts will support generations of law students. Read more about both gifts below.
Couple gives $1 million scholarships gift to encourage the great legal minds of tomorrow
When Jim Penney J.D. ’83 attended William & Mary Law School, he needed to take out loans to pay for his degree and to make ends meet. Thirty-five years later, Penney and his wife LauraLeigh Young have chosen to help reduce the financial burden for future William & Mary law students with a $1 million gift toward scholarships, the top priority of the university’s For the Bold campaign.
“There was no other way I would have made it through law school — loans were a necessity,” Penney said. “We decided to contribute to scholarships with the goal of either reducing or eliminating the amount that future law students might have to borrow for tuition.”
The couple’s generous gift will support the newly created James A. Penney and LauraLeigh Young Scholarship in Law Endowment and the Class of 1983 William B. Spong Jr. Scholarship in Law Endowment. The gift will provide tuition support for generations of law students.
“Jim and LauraLeigh’s support of the law school is an extraordinary example of the impact private support plays in training the next generation of citizen lawyers,” said Davison M. Douglas, dean of William & Mary Law School. “We are grateful for their continued support of the first law school in the United States.”
In recognition of the couple’s commitment, the courtroom in the Hixon Center for Experiential Learning and Leadership will be named the James A. Penney and LauraLeigh Young Courtroom.
The couple, who live in Seattle, have remained engaged with the law school over the span of several decades. Penney is currently a co-chair of his class’s 35-year law reunion and has served on his class’s reunion leadership team for 20 years. Both Penney and Young have participated in other programs, including Dean’s Council Dinners and law school events hosted in Seattle.
“I’ve remained a big fan of the law school since graduating, so I wanted to convey my enthusiasm to my classmates with the hope they also would choose to contribute financially to support the law school’s mission and to enhance its presence in the academic community,” Penney said.
Penney is currently the executive vice president and general counsel of Wave Broadband, a cable, internet and phone provider in Washington, California and Oregon. From 2000 to 2006, Penney was a partner at the Seattle law firm Cairncross & Hempelmann, where he practiced corporate finance and technology transactions law and represented clients including Microsoft Corporation, Starwood Corporation and Sealaska Corporation. In 2012, Penney was inducted as a member of the Cable Pioneers, an honor reserved for industry veterans that have made significant leadership contributions.
After a career as a corporate writer followed by 12 years as a full-time parent to the couple’s three children, Young worked at a public middle school in Seattle providing students with academic and social support services. When the couple’s older daughter was diagnosed with Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strep (PANDAS) in 2014, Young became involved in advocacy work and education about the disorder.
Penney and Young’s investment advances For the Bold’s $350 million scholarships fundraising effort, which affords exceptional students the opportunity to attend William & Mary.
An everlasting legacy: William & Mary Law School receives $1 million scholarship bequest from the Spainhours
The legacy of T. Howard Spainhour ’54, B.C.L. ’56 and Nancy W. Spainhour will live on through a $1 million commitment the late couple gave to fund scholarships at William & Mary Law School.
“The Spainhours wanted to give back so students would not have to be concerned about financial restraints in order to pursue a law degree,” said John Padgett, a colleague and friend of the Spainhours. “Mr. Spainhour came from humble beginnings and always recognized William & Mary Law School as his point of ascension. It was his chance to accomplish things that he never thought he could accomplish as a young adult.”
The bequest will be used to establish the Howard and Nancy Spainhour Law Scholarship Endowment Fund. The commitment will cover tuition and provide a living expense stipend for law students.
“The Spainhours’ generous bequest will fund generations of William & Mary Law students who will uphold the citizen lawyer ideal by going out and serving the greater good,” said Davison M. Douglas, dean of William & Mary Law School.
The Spainhours were married for over 60 years. Howard was born in Forsythe County, North Carolina. He attended William & Mary after having a career in the United States Air Force where he served as a bomber pilot in World War II. Nancy was born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia and attended Maury High School.
“Mrs. Spainhour was a devoted stay-at-home mother to their only son,” Padgett said. “She was very engaging, a wonderful storyteller and a strong-minded individual.”
Howard was a transactional lawyer for most of his career. He founded the McGuireWoods branch in Norfolk in the 1980s, a leading law firm in Virginia. He was viewed as a pioneer in the field of law and was one of the first tax attorneys, Padgett said. The Virginia Bar Association recognized him for 50 years of service before he passed away.
The Spainhours had a strong belief in the power of education. Howard spent much of his time reading to children at Norfolk Collegiate School. He would pass out dollar coins during his regular visits.
“He recognized that education was a critical part of being a solid and productive citizen in the United States and that once obtained, anything is possible,” Padgett said.