Virginia Lawyer

VaLawyer_Apr 2014

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38 When Chatham attorney H. Victor Millner Jr. closed the door at his Main Street office for the last time in January, he ended a legal career that spanned more than a half century — 53 years to be exact. "I've enjoyed the people and challenge of doing the work," said Millner, still remarkably fit at 81. "If I had retired earlier, I would have won- dered what I would do every day." Surprisingly, Millner didn't really want to be a lawyer. After a two-year hitch in the Army, he returned home in 1956 to think about his future. "I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do," he said. "Well, I just thought I'll go to law school and see how things work out." Millner earned his undergraduate degree from Washington & Lee University, and in those days the law school wasn't too strict about admission. "They said show up here next week with a check for the tuition, and that's all you have to do. So that's what I did," he said. Newly minted lawyer Millner finished law school in 1960 and landed his first job a week later with W.G. Vansant in Chatham. Vansant guaranteed the newly minted lawyer $200 a month plus half of anything else Millner earned. He was 28. An attorney since the 1920s, Vansant gave Millner an education in wills, trusts, and real estate — the mainstay of the law firm at the time. "He told me you have to be accurate and you have to be honest," Millner said. "Never compro- mise the truth on anything. Those things stuck with me." In those days, the law office was over what was then Thompson's Haberdashery and Thompson's Drug Store on Main Street: twenty- VIRGINIA LAWYER | April 2014 | Vol. 62 | GENERAL INTEREST FEATURES GENERAL INTEREST The Oldest Lawyer in Town: Vic Millner closes 53-year legal career by Tim Davis Chatham Star-Tribune April2014VL_vl0414 4/3/14 11:19 AM Page 38

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