Douglas E. Brown ’71, J.D. ’74: Actively Engaged in Helping the Next Generation

Brown_475x265Blog post reproduced with permission of the Communications Office

A loyal and proud alumnus, Doug Brown spends significant time in retirement actively involved with the William & Mary community. Like many alums, Brown feels grateful and happy to give his time and resources to the alma mater that gave him so much.

A scroll through Brown’s LinkedIn profile reveals a successful career and an impressive list of volunteer appointments, most of which are with William & Mary.

“I owe a lot to William & Mary and I want to give back,” says Brown. “Having the College on my resumé made a huge difference in my career.”

Originally from Marion, Indiana, Brown received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from William & Mary in 1971.

“I grew up in the Midwest and I wanted to broaden my horizons,” he says. “William & Mary was the best choice. I liked the campus, the academic programs, and, of course, the basketball scholarship the College offered me.”

After Brown graduated, he immediately continued his studies at the Law School, where he also received a scholarship and was a member of the William & Mary Law Review and Phi Alpha Delta.

“I knew I wanted to be a lawyer and I was already in the academic routine,” says Brown. “I applied to another law school but I chose William & Mary Law and never regretted it.”

After graduation, he worked for Shanley & Fisher, a large insurance defense firm in New Jersey, where he handled medical malpractice and product liability insurance defense litigation. In 1977, Brown began his nearly 33-year career with the General Motors Legal Staff in Detroit.

“Being a corporate lawyer fit me quite nicely,” he says. “But if you had told me when I started at W&M Law about the wide variety of matters I would handle as a corporate lawyer, I would have had trouble believing it.”

During his GM career, Brown managed product litigation cases, certain regulatory matters, and also negotiated and drafted product responsibility agreements with several of GM’s international business partners. He also traveled world-wide, and spoke about U.S. product liability litigation to numerous GM business units, and also companies doing business with GM, in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and Sweden.

“I started my volunteer work before I retired because I wanted to stay busy,” he recalls. “William & Mary has meant so much to me that it was an obvious choice when I wanted to give back.”

Brown was recently elected Vice President of the Law School Foundation, following a term as Secretary/Treasurer. He chairs the Foundation’s Development Committee and is a member of the Law School’s Campaign Steering Committee. He also has been active in the Law School’s Alumni Ambassador and Co- Counsel Mentoring programs, and has co-chaired several of his Law School and undergraduate reunion gift committees. Brown served seven years on William & Mary’s Annual Giving Board of Directors, chaired the Board for two years, and is a Class Ambassador for his undergraduate class.

“I love being part of the William & Mary community and working as a liaison for William & Mary in Michigan,” says Brown, who has served as the College’s Alumni Admissions Network representative for southeastern Michigan. “Today’s students are exceptionally smart and well-qualified.”

Brown believes that having William & Mary on his resumé twice, for undergraduate and law degrees, has been enormously valuable in his career.

“There is tremendous name recognition and prestige that comes with the William & Mary name, especially in the Midwest,” he says. “I’m very thankful for the scholarships and other opportunities William & Mary gave me.”

A generous contributor to the College and Law School, Brown took his support to another level by establishing The Douglas E. and Escha J. Brown Law Scholarship Endowment.

“The scholarship is available to any student with financial need who maintains good academic standing,” says Brown. “I wanted to keep the requirements as flexible as possible.” The scholarship was fully funded in 2014.

“This past fall I had the pleasure of meeting Ethan Smith (’18), the first recipient of the scholarship,” he says. “Attending William & Mary on a scholarship changed my life and I look forward to doing the same for others.”