DeMetris Sampson ’80, a longtime lawyer and community leader in Dallas, has been named the winner of the Virgil C. Lott Medal for 2023. She will be honored at a ceremony at the School of Law on February 16. Dean Bobby Chesney made the announcement.
“The Virgil C. Lott Medal is named after the first African American graduate of our school, and honors those who, like Mr. Lott, have made significant contributions to the legal profession and to the improvement of understanding among all peoples,” said Dean Chesney. “DeMetris Sampson, as a pioneer of the Dallas bar, a longtime leader for many of Dallas’s civic boards and causes, and as a public servant for education in the State of Texas, is a richly deserving honoree. I am thrilled that we are recognizing her many contributions.”
Sampson was chosen from a field of exceptional nominees by a committee that included Dean Chesney, as well as past winners of the medal, such as the Hon. Rodney Ellis ’79 and Ambassador Ron Kirk ’79. The previous winner was Gary Bledsoe ’76, who was honored in a gala ceremony at the School of Law in 2019. The medal is traditionally awarded every other year, but no award was given in 2021 in light of public health conditions at that time.
Sampson is the second woman to receive the medal, after Myra McDaniel ’75, who was recognized posthumously in 2017.
Sampson is a double Longhorn, having received her Bachelors of Business Administration in 1977 and her Juris Doctor three years later. She also holds a Masters of Laws in Taxation from SMU’s law school, which she earned in 1986.
During the first phase of her career, she practiced law with the San Antonio City Attorney’s Office and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, and was Chief Counsel to the Committee on Judicial Affairs for the Texas House of Representatives. She then began working in private practice and, in 1987, joined the law firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP.
There, Sampson became the first African-American woman to become a partner in a majority firm in the City of Dallas. During a nearly 27-year tenure with the firm, she served as Managing Partner of its Dallas office, and as a Chairperson of the firm’s Management Committee.
“I am so pleased to be honored with the Virgil Lott Medal and to join the company of those who have won it before, including my dear friend Ron Kirk and an inspiring trailblazer for women in law in Texas, Myra McDaniel,” said Sampson. “And, of course, I am humbled to accept any award that bears the name of Virgil Lott, a civil rights pioneer for Austin, for Texas, and for The University of Texas School of Law. I am looking forward to seeing many friends and colleagues at the ceremony in February.”
The Virgil C. Lott Medal ceremony will take place at a dinner at the law school on February 16, 2023. For information about the Virgil C. Lott medal or to attend the dinner, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Biography of DeMetris Sampson
DeMetris Sampson retired in January 2014 from the law firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP where she had practiced in the firm’s Dallas office since 1987. Ms. Sampson is the first African-American woman to become a partner in a majority firm in the City of Dallas. During Ms. Sampson’s nearly 27-year tenure with the law firm, she served as Managing Partner of the law firm’s Dallas Office, and as a Chairperson of the firm’s Management Committee.
Ms. Sampson holds a Bachelors of Business Administration (1977) degree from the University of Texas at Austin, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas School of Law (1980), and a Masters of Laws in Taxation from Southern Methodist University School of Law (1986). In 2007, she was recognized with the Honorary Order of the Coif by the University of Texas School of Law.
Prior to joining the law firm, Ms. Sampson practiced law with the San Antonio City Attorney’s Office, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, as Chief Counsel to the Committee on Judicial Affairs for the Texas House of Representatives and in private practice. She is licensed to practice in Texas and Georgia (inactive). Professionally, Ms. Sampson has chaired the Legislation Committee of the Dallas Bar Association and served as President of the J. L. Turner Legal Association. She has served on the Executive Committee of the University of Texas Law School Alumni Association, and on the Founders Board of the University of North Texas School of Law. She is a life member of the National Bar Association and the National Bar Institute. She held membership in the Inn of Court.
Ms. Sampson’s activities are multifaceted. She is an active volunteer, participant, and advisor in local, state, and national political and civic communities She has co-chaired bond campaigns for the City of Dallas and the Dallas ISD. She is on the Boards of The Dallas Breakfast Group and TITAS/Dance Unbound. She is Board Chair of the Zan Wesley Holmes, Jr. Community Outreach Center. Ms. Sampson is a member of the Dallas Assembly, the Dallas Summit, the Women’sLeadership Summit, and a life member of the NAACP. She is an active member of The Links, Incorporated, and a life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is an active member of St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church.
She has served on the Dallas Regional Chamber Board, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Board, the Mayor’s Complete Count Committee, the City of Dallas’ Domestic Violence Task Force, the Dallas Charter Review Commission, and the Board of the North Central Texas Legal Services Corporation. She was appointed to the East Texas State University Board of Regents (now Texas A & M Commerce) by Governor Ann Richards. She served on the regional selection committee for White House Fellows. She served in Dallas as Chair of the Political Congress of African-American Women.
Ms. Sampson’s numerous professional and community service awards include the AKA Image Award (Omicron Mu Omega Chapter); the Congressional Black Caucus Spouses “Unsung Hero” Award; Outstanding Young Texas Ex Award (the University of Texas Ex-Students Association) and Outstanding Dallas Texas Ex; Maura Award from the Women’s Center of Dallas; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Award (Dallas Bar Association); Women’s Enterprise Magazine; Dallas Branch NAACP Community Service; Women of Spirit Award, American Jewish Congress; President’s Award, Dallas Urban League; Heritage Award from the African-American Museum; Humanitarian Award from Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (Alpha Sigma Lambda Chapter); and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators “2018 Nation Builders Award”.