Washington and Lee University School of Law, Lexington, Virginia
by Douglas May
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Washington and Lee University School of Law had its origin in the Lexington Law School. The Lexington Law School became affiliated with Washington College in 1866, while Robert E. Lee was the college’s president, and was made an integral part of the institution in 1870. After Lee’s death, Washington College was renamed Washington and Lee University. Washington and Lee University School of Law has been a member of the Association of American Law Schools since 1920 and is accredited by the American Bar Association.
Learning at Washington and Lee University School of Law is an active endeavor as there is no arm’s-length teaching at the law school. Students are expected to do a lot of writing and a lot of rewriting even in their first year, but not without feedback from full-time, tenure-track professors, all in connection with substantive courses. All first-year courses are required to give students a broad perspective on legal issues.
The Washington and Lee University Law Library contains more than 468,000 volumes, including microform materials, appellate records and briefs, and government documents. The Frances Lewis Law Center is the research arm of the law school. The center brings visiting judges and lawyers to the campus for varying periods, sometimes as long as a semester. It supports research by Washington and Lee faculty and students, and it convenes scholarly colloquia on topics of current legal interest.
Washington and Lee University School of Law’s instructional program is designed to provide students with a legal education in the fullest sense—not only the technical tools needed for the practice of law but also an understanding of how law operates in our society and sensitivity to the ethical imperatives of the profession. Its new, entirely experiential third-year curriculum comprised of law practice simulations, actual-practice experiences, the development of law practice skills, and participation in a year-long course on the profession.
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.
Approximate number of applications
The above admission details are based on fall 2011 data.
Class Ranking and Grades
Exact class standings are not released by Washington and Lee University School of Law. Each student, however, is informed of his or her grade point average. In addition, each student can determine the approximate percentile in the class in which he or she falls because grade point cutoffs at 5% intervals are posted; they vary from year to year and from class to class.
The following grading scale is used by the law school:
The grade points for a course are found by multiplying the number of credits awarded for the course by the appropriate number of grade points. For this and other grade calculations, Pass, Incomplete (I), Work-in-Progress (WIP), and No Grade Reported (NGR) entries do not count.
Grade normalization (Curve)
Minimum GPAs Required (Based on May 2010 graduation class)
Minimum GPA required to fall within the top 10% of the class
Minimum GPA required to fall within the top 25% of the class
Minimum GPA required to fall within the top 33% of the class
Minimum GPA required to fall within the top 50% of the class
Minimum GPA required to fall within the top 75% of the class
Minimum GPA required for graduation
Order of the Coif
summa cum laude
magna cum laude
Name of Award
John W. Davis Award
Awarded to the student with the best record of general excellence throughout his or her law school career
Gardner Brothers Award
Awarded for outstanding performance in the Davis Moot Court Competition
Best Brief Award
Awarded for the best brief written in connection with the Davis Moot Court Competition
Frederic L. Kirgis Jr. International Law Prize
Awarded to the graduate with the most outstanding record in international law
Academic Progress Award
Awarded for the most marked improvement in the final year
Virginia Trial Lawyers Association Award
Awarded for the best overall record in litigation courses
Calhoun Bond ’43 University Service Award
Awarded for significant contribution to the Washington and Lee community
James W.H. Stewart Tax Law Award
Awarded for excellence in the study of tax law
Roy L. Steinheimer Commercial Law Award
Awarded to a graduate with an outstanding record in commercial law
Roy L. Steinheimer Jr. Law Review Award
Awarded for the best article for law review publication
National Association of Women Lawyers Award
Awarded for academic achievement, motivation, and contribution to the advancement of women
Charles V. Laughlin Award
Awarded for outstanding contribution to the moot court program
Randall P. Bezanson Award
Awarded for outstanding contribution to diversity in the law school community
Virginia Bar Family Law Section Award
Awarded for excellence in the area of family law
American Bankruptcy Institute Medal
Awarded for excellence in the study of bankruptcy law
Law Council Law Review Award
Awarded to the second-year student for best article inthe Law Review
Barry Sullivan Award
Awarded to former graduate for compilation of constitutional law.
Thomas Carl Damewood Evidence Award
Awarded for the excellence in the area of evidence.
Student Bar Association President Award
Awardedto the President of the Student Bar Association
Awarded for the excellence in the area of advocacy
ODK Honor Society
Leadership in campus activities-from top 35%
Public Interest Law Grant
Entering practice in the Public Interest
Outstanding Clinical Student Award
Awarded for the excellence in the clinical program
Oliver White Hill Pro Bono Award
Awarded for the commitment to public service across all three years of law school
First published in 1938, the Washington and Lee Law Review presents articles contributed by leading scholars, judges, and lawyers, as well as essays, book reviews, and student notes. Student writers are chosen during the summer after their first year of law school based upon grades and the results of a writing competition. The review is published four times per year.
The Washington and Lee School of Law Journal of energy, Climate, and the environment is a student-edited journal. It is published by the law school student volunteers, whose members comprise the JECE. The journal includes articles, notes, case summaries, and legislative summaries from professors, practitioners, and students focused primarily on the areas of law surrounding energy and the climate, including, but not limited to, energy generation, energy usage, and climate impacts. JECE publishes the journal solely in an online format
The Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice focuses on legal issues that affect historically underrepresented classes of persons in a wide variety of subject matter that includes real estate, education, healthcare, environment, and public welfare. JCRSJ publishes articles submitted by leading scholars and practitioners as well as student notes. It is a biannual publication.
The German Law Journal is an online journal. It publishes commentary and scholarship in the fields of German, European, and international law. Its English-language treatment of comparative and international law attracts more than two million site visits from more than 50 countries each year. W&L students have the opportunity to write book reviews, case comments, short articles, and, following instructional learning, assist in discussing and assessing submissions for the journal.
All students at the law school can participate in the Moot Court program. First year students help as bailiffs, clients, witnesses, and time keepers. Second- and third-year students can compete so long as they have signed and submitted the participation agreement after reading the professionalism policy and grievance procedure.
Teams consisting of two members interview and counsel a “client” with a legal problem in the Client Counseling Competition. Competitors are judged on their ability to establish and maintain an effective rapport with the client and are then chosen from the intra-school competition to represent Washington and Lee in the ABA-sponsored Regional Client Counseling Competition.
The John W. Davis Appellate Advocacy Moot Court Competition provides interested students the opportunity to sharpen their brief writing and oral advocacy skills. Participants individually write a brief on an issue of constitutional law and then present at least two oral arguments to a bench of distinguished judges. Students who place at the top in this competition go on to represent Washington and Lee in several competitions around the country.
One of the most significant opportunities afforded by an education at Washington and Lee University School of Law is the opportunity to participate in the school’s legal clinics. Second- and third-year Washington and Lee law students help to meet the need for legal assistance in the region through these legal clinics and, at the same time, develop client contact and advocacy skills. The law school’s faculty has developed programs that present legal practice up close, involving tough lessons and real-life decisions that the profession deals with every day.
Clinical programs offered by the school include:
The Black Lung Legal Clinic
The Citizenship and Immigration Program
The Community Legal Practice Clinic
The Criminal Justice Clinic
The Judicial Clerkship Program
The Public Prosecutors Program
The Tax Clinic
The Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse
Graduates known to be employed nine months after graduation
Areas of Legal Practice
Graduates employed In
Business and Industry
Public Interest Organizations
Students may pursue individual external placements for course credit. These placements, or externships, allow students to integrate substantive and procedural learning with practical experience. Students reflect on their roles as novice lawyers with feedback from supervising attorneys in their placements and in seminar meetings with other externship students. Students work with federal and state agencies, public interest service providers and organizations, general counsel, and even with some private practitioners.
In Judicial externship Program, students are selected to serve as clerks for either a state or federal trial judge in Rockbridge or one of the surrounding counties, a bankruptcy judge whose offices are in Harrisonburg, one justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, and one judge from the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
The Transnational Law Institute sponsors several summer internships involving international or comparative law matters in organizations of the selected student’s choice.
American Constitution Society (ACS)
Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA)
Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
Burks Scholars x8020
Christian Legal Society
Domino & Card Club (DCC)
Environmental Law Society (ELS)
Fieldsport and Angling Society
First-Year Class Officers
German Law Journal
Health Law Association (HLA)
Intellectual Property & Tech Law Society
International Law Society (ILS)
J. Reuben Clark Law Society
Jewish Law Students Association
Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice (CRSJ) x 8119
Journal of Energy, Climate, and Environment x 4750
Kirgis Fellows x 8334
Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA)
Law and Business Society
Law and the Arts Society
Law News x 8565
Law Outdoors Club (LOC)
Law Review x 8566
Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ) Lewis Powell, Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series
Media Law Society
Middle-East and North Africa Law Society (MENA)
Moot Court Executive Board x 8575
National Lawyers Guild
Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, International (PAD)
Phi Delta Phi
Public Interest Law Students Association (PILSA)
Second-Year Class Officers
Secular Student Society
Shepherd Poverty Law Organization
Southwest Virginia Innocence Project (SVIP) x 4750
Sports and Entertainment Law
Student Bar Association (SBA) Officers x 8564
Student-Faculty Hearing Board
Tax Law Society/VITA
Third-Year Class Officers
Virginia Bar Association - Law School Council
Washington & Lee Law Runners
Washington & Lee Wine Law Society
Women Law Students Organization (WLSO)
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