Vanderbilt University Law School
|Vanderbilt Law School|
|Parent endowment||$3.4 Billion|
|Location||Nashville, TN, US|
|Bar pass rate||98%|
Vanderbilt University Law School (also known as Vanderbilt Law School or VLS) is a graduate school of Vanderbilt University. Established in 1874, it is one of the oldest law schools in the southern United States. Vanderbilt Law has consistently ranked among the top 20 law schools in the nation, and is currently ranked 15th in the 2013 edition of U.S. News & World Report.
In addition to its U.S. News & World Report ranking, VLS was ranked 11th in the inaugural Vault Top Law School Guide. In 2010, The Princeton Review ranked Vanderbilt 6th for Best Classroom Experience, and 6th for Best Quality of Life. Most recently, Vanderbilt Law was ranked 12th in the 2009 National Law Journal job placement study, with slightly over 47% of the graduating class being hired by the NLJ Top 250 firms. The mean starting salary, in private practice, for Vanderbilt Law graduates is $145,000.
Vanderbilt Law School enrolls approximately 640 students, with each entering class consisting of approximately 190 students.
The dean of the law school is Chris Guthrie, who began a five-year appointment as dean on July 1, 2009.
The small class size has contributed to a congenial, non-competitive atmosphere. VLS has more than 40 student organizations, which support many lectures, presentations and social events throughout the year. Students are also encouraged to form new organizations tailored to their personal interests, which has most recently produced Law Students for Social Justice (LSSJ), a new organization within the Social Justice Program that aims to facilitate an increasing number of students interested in pursuing public interest careers or hearing from legal practitioners on various ways to implement social justice values into their practice.
Vanderbilt Law School was established in 1874, and was the first professional school to open (Vanderbilt University itself did not start its undergraduate classes until 1875). The Law School's first class consisted of only seven students and eight professors, with a two-year course of study comprising the school's curriculum. William V. Sullivan was the school's first graduate and would eventually represent Mississippi in the United States Senate.
Through the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the law school remained small, and never exceeded 70 students. The law school offered a two-year departmental program, and changed locations between downtown Nashville and the Vanderbilt campus. By 1941, it had expanded into the old chapel area of Kirkland Hall on the Vanderbilt campus, but faced very limited enrollment during World War II. Classes were suspended in 1944.
Vanderbilt Law School was revived with a $1 million endowment in 1947 and experienced significant growth through the 1960s. Facing overcrowding, in 1962 it moved out of Kirkland Hall and into a dedicated Law School Building on 21st Avenue, where it currently resides.
Since then, VLS has undergone a series of renovations and expansion, notably including a $24 million upgrade under then-dean Kent D. Syverud completed in 2002.
By 2000, VLS had established a Law & Business Program, new clinical programs, multiple law journals, and an LL.M. program for foreign lawyers. At this point, Vanderbilt had greatly solidified its regional prestige and was well on its way to aggressively developing a national reputation.
In 2005, Edward L. Rubin was appointed to replace Syverud as dean of the Law School. During Dean Rubin's tenure, Vanderbilt Law School significantly developed its Litigation & Dispute and Resolution Program (resulting from a $2.9 million endowment donation), established or formalized programs in Regulatory Law, Constitutional Law, International Legal Studies, Law and Human Behavior, Environmental Law and Social Justice, and increased its reputation in the field of Law and Economics by establishing a Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics based within the law school and headed by noted economist W. Kip Viscusi.
Chris Guthrie succeeded Rubin as the law school's dean in July 2009.
While the law school now receives approximately 4,000 applications a year, fewer than 1,000 applicants receive offers, resulting in a matriculating class of under 200. The entering class of 2014 had median undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores of 3.73 and 169, respectively.
Sixty percent of the most recent entering class had graduated from college at least one year before arriving at Vanderbilt. Like most law schools, backgrounds of Vanderbilt law students have included experience in such fields as business, the sciences, military service, education, technology, entertainment, and public policy. Of the most recently admitted class (the Class of 2014), 44% are women and 23% are minorities; the entering class also represents 99 different undergraduate institutions, spanning 34 different states and six foreign nations.
Vanderbilt's upper-level concentration programs allow students to earn a certificate in Law & Business, as well as concentrate their studies in such fields as international law, intellectual property law, litigation and dispute resolution, environmental law and criminal law as well as social justice. In 2005, the Cecil D. Branstetter Litigation & Dispute Resolution Program received a $2.9 million endowment through a cy pres settlement of a class action lawsuit. Vanderbilt also has programs that allow students to focus on constitutional law, regulatory law, comparative law, and law and human behavior. In fall 2011, Vanderbilt University received a $4.85 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation  for the establishment of a national MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience.
In the spring of 2006, the law school announced the creation of a new program to award a Ph.D. in Law & Economics—the first program of its kind in the nation—directed by economists W. Kip Viscusi and Joni Hersch. The program admitted its first class in fall 2007 and expects its first graduate in 2012.
The Vanderbilt Law Review is ranked 18th among general-topic law reviews, based upon the number of times its articles are cited. Other journals are the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, founded in 1967, and the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, founded as the Journal of Entertainment Law and Practice in 1998. The recently created Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review, a new joint publication with the Environmental Law Institute, debuted in 2008. ELPAR is released each year as the August issue of the Environmental Law Reporter, one of the most widely circulated environmental law publications in the country.
Notable alumni 
- Greg Abbott - Texas Attorney General
- Bill Alexander- United States Representative from Arkansas (1969–1993)
- Bruce Bennett (Class of 1949) - Attorney general of Arkansas (1957-1960 and 1963-1966)
- Lucius E. Burch, Jr. - Conservationist, Explorer, Civil Rights Activist, and Attorney for Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Martha Craig Daughtrey - Senior Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- Karl Dean - Mayor of Nashville
- Al Gore - Vice President of the United States; winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Gore attended Vanderbilt Law School, but left in 1976 during his 2L year without attaining a degree to run for his father's seat in Congress.
- Pauline LaFon Gore - Mother of former Vice President Al Gore. She met her future husband, Albert Gore, Sr., while working her way through Vanderbilt Law School, from which she graduated in 1936.
- Dorsey B. Hardeman - former member of both houses of the Texas State Legislature, former mayor of San Angelo
- Ric Keller - former United States Representative from Florida
- Leonard Lance - United States Representative from New Jersey
- Gilbert S. Merritt, Jr. - Senior Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- Luke Messer - United States Representative from Indiana
- Bill Purcell - Former Mayor of Nashville; served two terms from 1999 to 2007.
- Ronald J. Rychlak - Noted author, attorney and professor of law at University of Mississippi
- Ben Quayle - U.S. Representative from Arizona
- Bill Steltemeier (1954) - Founding President of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).
- Fred Thompson - Former Republican presidential candidate; former United States Senator (R-TN), and actor on the television drama Law & Order
- Aleta Trauger - Judge, U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville
- Clay Travis - American sports journalist, writer and the author of the column ClayNation on Fanhouse
- Justin P. Wilson - Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury
- Thomas A. Wiseman, Jr. - Senior Judge, United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
Notable faculty 
- Lisa Schultz Bressman, professor of administrative law.
- Suzanna Sherry, author of numerous books on constitutional interpretive theory and casebooks on Civil Procedure and Federal Jurisdiction.
- Harold G. Maier, expert in Private International Law, International Civil Litigation (retired in 2006)
- James Clark McReynolds (1862–1946), United States Supreme Court Justice, served on the faculty before becoming part of President Theodore Roosevelt's Justice Department.
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- "Greg Abbott". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
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- "Al Gore". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
- "Pauline LaFon Gore". Baptist Press. All Rights Reserved. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
- "Dorsey B. Hardeman". Texas State University. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
- "Ric Keller". Notable Names Data Base. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
- "Leonard Lance". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
- "Gilbert S. Merritt, Jr". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
- "Luke Messer". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
- "Bill Purcell". http://www.smartvoter.org/>. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
- "Ronald J. Rychlak". The University of Mississippi School of Law. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
- "Ben Quayle". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
- "Well-known deacon with Nashville ties dies at 83". The Tennessean. 2013-02-15. Retrieved 2013-02-24.
- "Fred Thompson". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
- "Aleta Trauger". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
- "Clay Travis". NBS Sprorts Group. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
- "Justin P. Wilson". Comptroller, State of Tennessee. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
- "Thomas A. Wiseman, Jr". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 22 February 2013.