After spending more than 35 years as the first and only general counsel at Texas Woman’s University, John Lawhon will retire from the post Aug. 31 to work in private practice.
In addition to handling litigation for the university, he also functioned as the ethics officer and open meetings officer, spent 14 years teaching and served as the Board of Regents secretary for 26 years.
“I think I’ve done about everything I could do for TWU,” Lawhon said. “I feel like while I’m at the top of my game — it’s a good time to retire from here.”
He considered retirement a few years ago when his wife retired, but the previous TWU Board chair, Mike McCullough, asked Lawhon to stay through his term, which ended this spring. Now that Chancellor Ann Stuart — the fourth president and chancellor Lawhon has served under — is retiring, he said he thinks the time is right for him to retire.
As general council for the university, he reviewed all the grants and policies, the contracts with employees and the agreements with more than 400 different hospitals and healthcare facilities where students complete their clinical placements.
In a university press release, Stuart stated that she was grateful for Lawhon’s service. He made sure the university was in compliance and anticipated and resolved disputes and legal issues, she said.
Moving forward, Lawhon will continue private practice in estate planning, probate and trusts and the area of family law, all of the areas where he is a board-certified specialist. This will be his first time in the private sector, as Lawhon served as Denton County District Attorney for 18 years before joining TWU.
“It’s just been a grand experience and one that I greatly appreciate — I’ve enjoyed my first and second careers, and I’ll enjoy my third career,” he said.
In addition to his staff in the legal department, Lawhon reflected on his time working with the Board of Regents.
“I think here at TWU, the things that I’ll remember will be the great people that I worked with here,” he said. “It was just a pleasure to work with the TWU people and the enjoyment of working with the Board of Regents. We just had an extraordinary group of regents throughout the years.”
As a professor, Lawhon taught in the history and government department and helped to establish the paralegal studies and criminal justice programs, he said.
“I really enjoyed teaching, and I have students come back all the time and say they appreciated being in the classes,” Lawhon said. “There’s just lots of outstanding students that came out of those groups.”
When Lawhon joined TWU, he said he didn’t intend to spend such a large portion of his career at the school, but is glad he did.
“TWU is a wonderful university,” he said. “Of course, I wouldn’t have stayed here so long if it hadn’t have been.”
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.