W. Birch Douglass III Counsel

Birch is a trusted advisor to affluent private clients and family offices nationwide. Through his substantial experience in all areas of the tax law, he counsels clients on practical, comprehensive, tax-efficient solutions to their wealth management needs.

He devotes a substantial portion of his practice to estate planning, wealth transfers, succession planning for closely held businesses, and matters relating to family offices and private trust companies. He also advises clients about family councils, charitable giving, and private foundations.

He has extensive involvement with numerous charitable organizations, including service on the boards of Hampden-Sydney College, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and other charitable organizations as well as several private foundations and closely held businesses. He is a fellow of both the American College of Tax Counsel and the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He was a longtime member of the Family Firm Institute and is involved with various tax committees of the American Bar Association and other professional groups.


Created a private family trust company to serve as the core component of a family’s family office and to serve as the fiduciary for trusts for various family members living in several states.

Assisted a client in structuring a family limited partnership to take advantage of valuation discounts for estate and gift tax purposes.

Planned the sale of a business by the senior family member to a generation-skipping trust structured as a “grantor trust” to avoid gain on the sale.

Drafted shareholder buy-sell agreements for siblings with restrictive transfer provisions to ensure that stock in the family business given by the parents would not end up in outside hands.

Assisted a client in using family business assets and income to fund and support the family’s private charitable foundation.

  • Virginia
  • U.S. Tax Court

Recipient, Patrick Henry Service Award, Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest, Hampden-Sydney College, 2012

Recipient, Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallion, Hampden-Sydney College, 2008

Recipient, Alumni Citation Award, Hampden-Sydney College, 2005

Recipient, Alumni Award for Distinguished Service, University of Richmond, 1986

Named "Lawyer of the Year," Trusts and Estates, Richmond, Best Lawyers, 2012

Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Tax Law, Trusts and Estates, Woodward/White, Inc., 1993-2020

Named to "Virginia Super Lawyers," Estate Planning & Probate, Tax, Business/Corporate, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2006-2019

Named a Client Service "All Star," BTI Consulting, 2011-2012

Named "Lawyer of the Year," Tax, Richmond, Best Lawyers, 2010

Named to "Legal Elite," Taxes/Estates/Trusts/Elder Law, Virginia Business, 2001-2012, 2018

Member, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society

  • Harvard Law School, LLM, 1969
  • University of Richmond School of Law, LLB, 1968
  • Hampden-Sydney College, BA, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1965

Fellow, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel 1993-present

Trustee Emeritus, 2012-present; Board of Trustees, 1990-2012; Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees, 2000-2001, Hampden-Sydney College

Trustee, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2007-2017 

President, 2004-2007; Board of Directors, 1995-2008, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Foundation 

Member, Committee on Fiduciary Income Tax, 1993-present; Editor, ACTEC Journal, 2004-2005; Member, Communications Committee, 2003-present, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel

Member, Committees on Fiduciary Income Tax, Exempt Organizations and Estate and Gift Tax, 1980-present; Chair, Committee on Fiduciary Income Tax, 1991-1993, Taxation Section, American Bar Association

Member, Business Planning Group and related committees, 1996-present; Member, Publications Committees, 2001-present; Member, Communications Committee, 2001-2011; Acquisitions Editor, Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal, 1998-present, Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law, American Bar Association

Member, Family Firm Institute, 1990-2016

Board of Directors, 1990-2005, 2010-2015; President, 1995-1996; Advisory Board, 2005-2010 and 2015 to present, Hanover Tavern Foundation

Member, Kappa Alpha Court of Honor, 2003-present

Member, Private Business Study Group, 1983-present

Board of Directors, Rosewell Foundation, 2006-2012

Board of Associates, 1990-2005; Chairman, Board of Associates, 1996-1999; Member, Advisory Committee on Estate Planning, 1975-present, University of Richmond

Fellow, Virginia Law Foundation, 1992-present

Member, Virginia Gift Planning Council, 1992-present

Member, William and Mary Tax Conference Advisory Council, 1989-2009

Council, Section of Taxation, Virginia Bar Association, 1988-1990

President, Estate Planning Council of Richmond, 1983-1984

Chairman, Board of Governors, Section of Taxation, Virginia State Bar, 1983-1984

Fellow, American College of Tax Counsel 1988-present

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