Vanderbilt University Law School

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Vanderbilt University Law School


Vanderbilt University Law School offers a program designed to educate lawyers for careers in many professional areas. The school encourages students to acquire a broad knowledge of law and a thorough understanding of the legal system. Emphasis is placed on the development of analytical ability and other intellectual capabilities.

Legal education at Vanderbilt Law School allows students to gain extensive knowledge of domestic and international law and gives students an opportunity to understand lawmaking institutions. The curriculum at the school is oriented toward developing the analytical skills of students, as well as their verbal, writing, and communication skills. Second- and third-year students opt from a broad range of electives, including clinical courses focusing on civil, criminal, international and other areas of legal practice. All students also have the opportunity to focus on specific areas of law and practice through its academic programs. The faculty at the school aim to provide extensive training in all facets of legal research.

Vanderbilt Law School offers a solid network of active and supportive alumni, a strong career services program, and a relatively small student body. It also works closely with the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt. The nation’s largest media-related foundation, the center works to promote better understanding of First Amendment values through research, seminars, and publications.

Student-Faculty Ratio


Admission Criteria




25th-75th Percentile






The above LSAT and GPA data pertain to the fall 2011 entering class.

*Medians have been calculated by averaging the 25th- and 75th-percentile values released by the law schools and have been rounded up to the nearest whole number for LSAT scores and to the nearest one-hundredth for GPAs.

Admission Statistics

Approximate number of applications


Number accepted


Percentage accepted


The above admission details are based on fall 2011 data.

Class Ranking and Grades

Vanderbilt Law School does not rank its students. The grading system followed at the law school is as follows:

























I is used when student has not completed the requirements for a course but is permitted and expected to do so.

IP – In Progress - is used when course credits are dependent on completion of more than one course.

Grade normalization (Curve)

The recommended grading curve at Vanderbilt Law School is as follows:

A+ and A








B- and Lower


A student must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above to graduate.




Order of the Coif

Top 10%

Dean’s List

Top 20%

Founder’s Medal

Awarded to the student in the graduating class who has attained the highest GPA, having completed at least 55 credit hours in residence at Vanderbilt


Name of Award


Junius L. Allison Legal Aid Award

Awarded for significant contribution to the work of the Legal Aid Society

Banks Award

Awarded by the Philip C. Jessup Moot Court Competition team to the member who has made the greatest contribution to the team’s overall success during the prior year

Bennett Douglas Bell Memorial Award

Awarded to a graduating student who is not only well versed in the law but also embodies the highest conception of the ethics of the profession  

Damali A. Booker Award

Awarded to a third-year law student dedicated to legal activism and committed to confronting social issues facing both the law school and the Nashville community  

Nathan Burkan Memorial Prize

Awarded for the best paper on copyright law 

G. Scott Briggs Transnational Legal Studies Award

Awarded to the senior who has exhibited a high degree of scholastic achievement in transnational legal studies and made the most significant contribution to the development of international legal inquiry while a student of Vanderbilt Law School 

Philip G. Davidson III Memorial Award

Awarded to a student chosen by the Vanderbilt Bar Association Board of Governors who is dedicated to the law and its problem-solving role in society and who provides exemplary leadership in service to the law school and the greater community 

Robert F. Jackson Memorial Prize

Awarded to the student who has maintained the highest scholastic average for his or her first two years at the law school

Lightfoot, Franklin & White Legal Writing Awards

Awarded for the best brief and to the best oralist in each of the eight sections of the first-year Legal Research and Writing course

Archie B. Martin Memorial Prize

Awarded for the highest general average for the first year

National Association of Women Lawyers Outstanding Law Student Award

Awarded to the student whose law school involvement best fulfills the goals of contributing to the advancement of women in society and promoting women’s issues in the legal profession, exhibiting tenacity, enthusiasm, and academic achievement  

Jordan A. Quick Memorial Award

Awarded to the student who has made the greatest contribution to the quality of life at the law school through his or her leadership with the Vanderbilt Bar Association

Stanley D. Rose Memorial Book Award

Awarded for the best paper in the field of jurisprudence or legal history submitted to fulfill the law school’s advanced writing requirement

Carl J. Ruskowski Clinical Legal Education Award

Awarded to the best student in the law school’s clinical program

Vanderbilt Scholastic Excellence Award

Awarded for the highest grade in all courses except seminars and limited enrollment courses

Weldon B. White Prize

Awarded for the best paper written to fulfill the law school’s advanced writing requirement

Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law Outstanding Service Award

Awarded to the student, other than the editor-in-chief, who has made the most significant contribution to the advancement of the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law

Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law Masamichi Yamamoto Second-Year Editor Award

Awarded to the second-year staff member who has made the most significant contribution to the advancement of the journal

Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law Student Writing Award

Awarded for the best piece of student writing submitted for publication in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law

Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law Outstanding Editor Award

Awarded to the third-year staff member who has made the most significant contribution to the advancement of the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law during the school year

Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law Grace Wilson Sims Medal in Transnational Law

Awarded to the editorial board member, other than the editor-in-chief, who has contributed the most outstanding work to the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law during the school year

Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law Second-Year Editor Award

Awarded to a second-year staff member for outstanding work on the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law during the academic year

Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law Grace Wilson Sims Prize for Student Writing in Transnational Law

Awarded for the best piece of student writing submitted for publication in the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law during the school year

Vanderbilt Law Review Candidate’s Award

Awarded by the second-year staff of the Vanderbilt Law Review to a third-year staff member, other than the editor-in-chief, for his or her contribution to their development as staff members of the law review

Vanderbilt Law Review Editor’s Award

Awarded to a third-year editorial board member for significant contribution to the Vanderbilt Law Review

Vanderbilt Law Review Morgan Prize

Awarded for the most outstanding piece of student writing published in the Vanderbilt Law Review during the school year

Vanderbilt Law Review Myron Penn Laughlin Recent Development Award

Awarded to the student, other than the recipient of the Morgan Prize, who has contributed the best student note to the Vanderbilt Law Review during the school year

Bass Berry & Sims Moot Court Competition Award

Awarded to the semifinalists in the Intramural Appellate Competition

John A. Cortner Moot Court Competition Award

Awarded to the two members of the winning team in the Intramural Appellate Competition

K. Harlan Dodson Moot Court Staff Award

Awarded to the senior member of the moot court staff, other than the chief justice, who rendered the most outstanding service during the year in all aspects of the moot court program

Judge Albert C. Hunt National Moot Court Team Award

Awarded to students chosen as members of the National Moot Court Team

Richard Nagareda Best Oralist

Awarded to the Best Oralist who is chosen by a committee of Moot Court Board members headed by the Chief Justice of the Board

Best Brief Award

Awarded to the team based on the grading system for the briefs each team turns in chosen by the entire Moot Court Board


The Vanderbilt Law Review publishes six issues per year. It selects new members in the spring of their first year. Students interested in law review membership are required to compete in a case comment competition following their spring final exams. Members are selected based on a combination of their case comment score and their first-year grade point average. The law review selects 32 first-year students annually. Second-year students may also ‘write on’ to the law review.

The Vanderbilt Journal of entertainment and Technology Law was founded by Vanderbilt law students in 1998 as the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment Law and Practice. It presents informative discussion of the contemporary legal issues that face the entertainment and technology industries. The journal endeavors to provide a venue where practitioners and scholars alike can confront the principal concerns of rapidly changing industries that transcend both culture and medium. Beginning in 2008, JETL publishes four issues annually, including a special issue with papers from JETL’s annual symposium. Past volumes have included articles on the legality of excluding preparatory players from the NBA, the protection of copyright in the age of peer-to-peer file sharing, and the regulation of distance learning in higher education.

The Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law publishes five issues per year. It examines issues of public and private international law, admiralty and maritime law, and other legal events and trends that transcend national boundaries. It features articles and book reviews by highly regarded scholars and practitioners in the international field and also publishes student work, including notes on significant transnational legal developments as well as comments on recent cases and developments concerning new treaties and statutes.

The Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review (ELPAR) is a joint publication between Vanderbilt University Law School (VULS) and the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) in Washington, DC. Law students work with an expert advisory board and senior staff from ELI to identify the year’s best legal and policy solutions to pressing environmental problems. Edited by students, the single volume includes condensed versions of the selected articles, along with commentaries from leading experts from the academy, law firms, business, government and non-governmental organizations. The authors of the articles and comments present their work at an annual conference in Washington, DC, that is co-sponsored by ELI and the law school.

Moot Court

Each year, Vanderbilt Law School offers all 2Ls and 3Ls the opportunity to participate in the Bass, Berry & Sims Intramural Moot Court Competition. During the first week of the school year, all 2Ls are invited to attend an informational meeting, which is mandatory for those who wish to register for Moot Court.

The Bass, Berry & Sims Moot Court Competition is also a one-credit course in advanced appellate advocacy, administered by the Vanderbilt Moot Court Board. To complete the competition and earn the credit hour, the student must write an appellate brief and present two rounds of oral arguments in front of a panel of judges.

Thirty students are selected for the Vanderbilt Moot Court Board based on their combined brief and oral scores. Finalists receive cash prizes sponsored by Bass, Berry & Sims, and the winners also receive the distinguished Cortner Award. Other awards include Best Oralist and Best Brief.

Clinical Programs

Vanderbilt Law School’s clinical legal education program provides students opportunities to represent clients and handle legal cases or complete substantive research to support international institutions, domestic government agencies, or international tribunals under the close supervision of a member of the law school’s clinical faculty. Clinical courses are offered for academic credit on a Pass/Fail basis, and students may enroll for one or two semesters.

The law school offers the following clinical courses:

The Appellate Litigation Clinic
The Civil Practice Clinic
The Community and Economic Development Clinic
The Criminal Practice Clinic
The Domestic Violence Clinic
The Intellectual Property and the Arts Clinic
The International Law Practice Lab

Placement Facts

Starting Salaries (2010 Graduates employed Full-Time)

Private sector (25th-75th percentile)


Median in the private sector


Median in public service


Employment Details

Graduates known to be employed at graduation


Graduates known to be employed nine months after graduation


Areas of Legal Practice

Graduates employed In


Law Firms


Business and Industry




Judicial Clerkships


Public Interest Organizations








The following externships are available to students at Vanderbilt Law School:

The In nashville/Academic Year/Summer externship: The basic guidelines for externships in Nashville are: (1) students may receive credit only for work supervised by faculty-approved fieldwork supervisors at faculty-approved placements and (2) various types of externships may qualify, including placements with federal and state prosecutors and defenders, the state attorney general’s office, state legislative offices, federal and state agencies, state and federal judges, and legal aid or other nonprofit programs. Students may not receive credit for work for which they are paid.

The Full-Semester externship: Any student who is interested in pursuing a semester-long externship must submit a proposal endorsed by a full-time faculty member to the associate dean for clinical affairs six weeks prior to the end of the semester preceding the one in which the externship will take place. If a student participates in a semester-long externship, no additional externship credits may be counted toward graduation requirements, and only in the instance of a semester-long externship can the six-credit limit for externship credits be exceeded. Students may not receive credit for work for which they are paid.

The Externship in International Law: International law externships are offered by the Vanderbilt International Legal Studies Program and give students opportunities to work with legal professionals on international law projects in organizations in the US and abroad. Students are placed in international courts; international institutions; offices of the US government; and NGOs in Europe, Africa, and Latin America.

The environmental Law externships: Students who are interested in gaining experience-based instruction in professional skills and values, a variety of organizations provide externship opportunities, including environmental and other non-profit groups.

environmental Law Institute externship - An externship with the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) in ELI’s Washington, DC, office is available to one Vanderbilt Law student per semester. This externship affords a remarkable opportunity to work on cutting-edge environmental law issues in Washington with ELI’s talented, experienced group of environmental law and policy experts. The extern shares time between the Research/Policy and Publications divisions of ELI, and works directly with staff attorneys on projects involving domestic and international environmental and natural resource protection law. The extern also works on an annual conference convened by Vanderbilt Law School and ELI that brings together academics, practitioners and policy-makers to explore the best environmental law and policy ideas from the academy and their potential application in the policy arena. In addition, the extern plays an important role in editing and producing Environmental Law Institute academic publications and has other opportunities to gain valuable practical experience.

The Hague -Spring semester externship - During the spring semester, the student selected will work alongside the legal team in The Hague assisting with a wide range of legal work related to United States policy and preparation for International Court of Justice cases, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, NATO policy, and a range of other issues.


Students, who are foreign nationals, are required to participate in one or more summer internships, which may be paid or unpaid and served with private or public employers. This helps students to gain familiarity with American legal institutions and the culture of legal practice in the US.

A six-month internship with the Prosecutor’s Office of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was established by the UN Security Council to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of genocide and other war crimes arising from the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. One or more students each semester participate in a range of investigative work, factual development, and legal research on both procedural and substantive international criminal law issues.

Student organizations

American Constitution Society
Animal Law Society
Asian-Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA)
Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
Christian Legal Society
Criminal Law Society
Disability Law Society
Entertainment & Sports Law Society
Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review
Environmental Law Society
Federalist Society
Health Law Society
Honor Council
International Arbitration Association
International Law Society
J. Reuben Clark Law Society
JD-MBA Society
Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA)
Judicial Codes Counselors and Appellate Advocates
La Alianza at Vanderbilt Law School (Formerly the Latin American Law Students Association, or LALSA)
Labor and Employment Law Society
Law & Business Society
Law Partners
Law Students for Social Justice
Law Students for Veterans Affairs
Legal Aid Society and Public Interest Stipend Fund
Street Law
The List Project at Vanderbilt
Moot Court Board
National Security and Law Society
Native American Law Students Association
Phi Delta Phi
Running Club
St. Thomas More Society
South Asian Law Students Association
Vanderbilt Alternative Dispute Resolution Organization (VADRO)
Vanderbilt Art and Cultural Property Law Association (VACPLA)
Vanderbilt Bar Association (VBA)
Vanderbilt Intellectual Property Association (VIPA)
Vanderbilt Interdepartmental Group in Law and Neuroscience
Vanderbilt Law Futbol Club
Vanderbilt Law School Ambassadors
Vanderbilt Law Transfer Students Association
Vanderbilt Mock Trial Board
Vanderbilt Student Health & Wellness Association (VSHWA)
Vanderbilt Second Amendment Club (V2AC)
Women Law Students Association (WLSA)


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The Vanderbilt University


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