Washington and Lee University School of Law

The information on this page was provided by the law school.

Official Guide to ABA-Approved JD Programs


Introduction

Washington and Lee University School of Law, founded in 1849, is in Lexington, Virginia, a three-hour interstate highway drive from Washington, DC. The School of Law is fully accredited by the ABA and is a member of the AALS. Washington and Lee is known for providing its students with an academically rigorous and professionally challenging legal education in an environment characterized by a commitment to students, small classes, a very low student-to-faculty ratio, and a collegial community. The law school is among the nation’s smallest law schools, with approximately 390 total students. Members of the 2017–2018 student body hailed from 40 states, plus the District of Columbia, and 12 foreign countries.

W&L Law offers an innovative curriculum in which students are engaged in distinct yet complementary ways over the course of their three years in law school. At W&L Law, each year of law school builds upon the lessons of the year before but also presents new and different challenges. In the second and third year, students select from an array of real and simulated client-based practice experiences as well as traditional elective offering, with emphasis on preparing students for their chosen path after graduation.

The Honor System

The W&L community is governed by an Honor System that is the foundation for academic and student life at the university. The Honor System is an integral part of a professional education that fosters a sensitivity to the ethical imperatives of the legal profession. The Honor System means that the library is always open; students feel comfortable leaving bags, computers, books, and any number of other valuables unattended; exams are unproctored; the exam schedule for upper-level students is flexible; and professors are free to give take-home examinations.

Curriculum

All first-year classes are required. During their first year of law school, students encounter a broad and diverse selection of foundational subjects, setting a solid base for their course of upper-level study. In their second and third years, students augment required classes with elective courses and an extensive selection of practicum, clinic, and externship offerings. The second and third years blend classic academic and professional values with a view toward preparing students for transition to law practice.

The breadth of curricular and experiential offerings is noteworthy.

Offerings in corporate and business law, international law, and civil and criminal litigation are particularly strong. A wide variety of clinical programs and externships provide opportunities for hands-on experience as part of the academic program. Clinics include the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse, established to assist attorneys representing clients charged with or convicted of capital crimes; the Black Lung Legal Clinic, in which students represent coal miners seeking disability benefits under federal law; the Community Legal Practice Center, which provides a range of legal services to qualified area residents; the Tax Clinic, in which students represent low-income taxpayers in controversies with the Internal Revenue Service; the Public Prosecutors Program, in which students assist federal and state prosecutors with investigations, trial preparation, pretrial and trial practice, and appeals; the Criminal Justice Clinic, in which students defend area residents accused of misdemeanors; the Immigrant Rights Clinic, through which students focus on resolving legal disputes related to immigration and naturalization; the Judicial Externship Program, through which students act as law clerks to trial, appellate, juvenile and domestic relations, and federal bankruptcy judges; the General Externship Program, through which students may pursue individual placements; and various Transnational Law Institute offerings in which students work on live legal issues in Liberia, Cambodia, the European Court of Human Rights, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia. A number of 3L students spend the fall semester in W&L’s Semester in DC program, taking courses in the nation’s capital and externing with government agencies.

In clinics, externships, and practicum courses that simulate actual client experiences, students exercise professional judgment, work in teams, solve problems, counsel clients, negotiate solutions, and serve as advocates and counselors—the full complement of professional skills required to apply legal theory and legal doctrines to real-world issues and serve clients ethically and honorably within the highest traditions of the profession.

Student Activities

Students have three journal opportunities: the Washington and Lee Law Review, a quarterly journal for scholarly discussion of legal issues; the Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice, focusing on legal issues having an impact on racial and ethnic minorities; and the German Law Journal, an online journal that publishes commentary and scholarship in the fields of German, European, and international law. A variety of moot court and advocacy competitions allow upper-level students to hone advocacy, counseling, negotiation, and trial skills. All second- and third-year students may participate in the moot court competitions.

W&L Law students have established over 50 student groups, including the Black Law Students Association, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Women Law Students Organization, OUTLaw, Jewish Law Students Association, Christian Legal Society, Law Families, Federalist Society, American Constitution Society, National Lawyers Guild, and chapters of three national professional fraternities.

Admission and Financial Aid

W&L Law actively seeks a diverse student body whose members are of different racial, ethnic, economic, and geographic backgrounds. The admission process is highly individualized. Students are not ranked by any numerical index, nor is there an assigned weight given to any objective or subjective factor presented in the application.

The Admissions Committee considers the cumulative undergraduate grade-point average, trends in grades, the rigor of an applicant’s academic program, the quality of the school attended, the LSAT score, extracurricular activities, community service, evidence of leadership, graduate study, work experience, assessments of recommenders, and any information presented in the applicant’s personal statement, among other factors. Applicants are encouraged to visit the school to sit in on classes, tour the facility, and talk with students and faculty. A generous scholarship endowment allows W&L Law to assist a large percentage of its students with merit-based scholarship awards.

Career Planning and Professional Development

W&L Law graduates practice in every state and throughout the world. More than 70 percent of recent graduates practice outside Virginia. The three counseling professionals in the Office of Career Strategy (OCS) hold JD degrees and work with each student individually to develop a unique career plan. OCS provides instruction in résumé and cover letter writing, networking, and other career development skills. It also provides programming on a wide variety of practice specialties and settings, and acts as a liaison between students and legal employers. Law students interview with prospective employers on campus, at a satellite location in Charlottesville, and at programs throughout the United States (including interview programs in Boston; Richmond; New York City; Washington, DC; Atlanta; and Dallas). An active and committed alumni network assists students with contacts in every state and a variety of practice areas.

Law Library and Physical Facilities

Sydney Lewis Hall, home of the School of Law, was built in 1976 and expanded in 1991 with the addition of the Lewis F. Powell Jr. Archives, which house the Supreme Court and professional papers of retired Supreme Court Justice Powell, a graduate of the university’s college and law school. Wireless Internet access is available throughout the building. The moot court room and every classroom have been renovated within the past 10 years and are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, and the law library underwent significant renovations in 2015. The building, including the law library, is open to students 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Admitted Applicant Profile

25-75% UGPA Range at Washington and Lee:

3.32 to 3.79

2.00
2.58
3.16
3.74
4.33

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Washington and Lee:

157 to 164

120
135
150
165
180

25-75% UGPA Range at Washington and Lee:

3.32 to 3.79

2.00
2.58
3.16
3.74
4.33

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Washington and Lee:

157 to 164

120
135
150
165
180

25-75% UGPA Range at Washington and Lee:

3.32 to 3.79

2.00
2.58
3.16
3.74
4.33

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Washington and Lee:

157 to 164

120
135
150
165
180

Contact Information

Office of Admissions, Sydney Lewis Hall,
Lexington, VA 24450,
United States