Donation to law school expands family legacy

UM School of Law graduate Helene Lampton Thompson donated $100,000 to the school, establishing an endowment that honors her family’s legacy. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Mississippi — For Helene Thompson and her loved ones, law school at the University of Mississippi has become something of a family rite of passage.

Thompson, who graduated from the school in 1968, established the Thompson Family Law Endowment, with an initial donation of $100,000. She and her late husband, Luther Thompson, met in law school.

The endowment honors the legacy the Thompsons have with the university and family members who attended the school before and after the couple’s time there.

“Thanks to Helene, we will be able to provide an even more enriching educational experience for students,” said Susan Duncan, Dean of the School and Professor of Law.

Thompson, of Jackson, was drawn to the school on the advice of her grandfather, the late James McClure, of Sardis, who graduated from the program in 1917.

After finishing his undergraduate years at Vanderbilt University, Thompson recalled his grandfather saying, “You’ve been out of state for so long, you have to come back and get to know the people back home. You have to go to Ole Miss Law School.

Thompson practiced law in Jackson at Brunini, Everett, Grantham and Quinn after graduating and worked there for four years, primarily in oil and gas and assisting senior partners on various projects.

Luther Thompson served as a clerk in the Mississippi Supreme Court, then took a position with Heidelberg, Woodliff and Franks. When their children were born, Helene Thompson retired from the field. One of her children, Hays Thompson Haney, also earned a Juris Doctor from Ole Miss in 1997.

Helene Thompson (centre) stands with her children, Hays Thompson Haney (left) and Thad Lampton Thompson. Photo courtesy of Hays Thompson Haney

“This endowment is very important to our family,” said Haney, assistant general counsel at Capgemini America Inc., a French multinational information technology services and consulting company.

“It has been an immense pleasure to be at Ole Miss and represent our family. The school embodies traditions while looking to the future within the state, the nation and the world.

Thompson said donating his family law endowment to the university was “a no-brainer.”

With the gift, Thompson hopes the school “will be able to add special teachers or events to enhance the classes.” Perhaps a seminar for students – someone who is very well known in his field.

Suzette Matthews, senior director of law school development, said that’s exactly what the endowment will provide for students.

“It’s going to allow our faculty to bring in experts to teach our students and perhaps show them a different or deeper perspective on current issues,” she said. “It wouldn’t be entirely possible without the Thompson Family Law Endowment.”

When asked what prompted his donation to college, Thompson’s response was simple:

“I’m just grateful for what the school has done for all of us.”

Individuals and organizations may donate to the Thompson Family Law Endowment by sending a check, with the designation given in the note line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or online at

For more information about law school support, contact Suzette Matthews at or 601-937-1497.

Nancy I. Romero