Washington and Lee University School of Law

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Coordinates: 37°47′29.2″N 79°26′37.9″W / 37.791444°N 79.443861°W / 37.791444; -79.443861

Washington and Lee University School of Law
W&L law logo.jpg
Motto Non incautus futuri (Latin)
Motto in English "Not Unmindful of the Future"
Established 1849 by John White Brockenbrough
Type Private school of law
Endowment US $85.7 million (2013)[1]
Dean Nora Demleitner
Academic staff 35 full-time, 57 adjunct[2]
Students 420[2]
Location Lexington, Virginia, USA
Campus National Historic Landmark, Rural, 325 acres (1.32 km2)
Former names

Lexington Law School (1849-1866)

School of Law and Equity (1866-1870)
Colors Royal Blue and White
         
Nickname "The Generals"
Website law.wlu.edu

The Washington and Lee University School of Law (W&L Law) is a private American Bar Association-accredited law school located in Lexington in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia. Facilities are on the historic campus of Washington and Lee University in Sydney Lewis Hall. W&L Law has a total enrollment of approximately 420 students in Juris Doctor and Master of Laws programs and a 9.5-to-1 student to faculty ratio.

History[edit]

The Lexington Law School, the precursor to W&L Law, was founded in 1849 by United States federal judge John White Brockenbrough and is the 16th oldest active law school in the United States and the third-oldest in Virginia. The Law School was not integrated into Washington and Lee University (then known as Washington College) until after the Civil War when Robert E. Lee was president of the university. In 1866, General Lee annexed the school, known at the time as the School of Law and Equity, to the college and appointed Judge Brockenbrough as the first Dean. In 1870, after Lee's death, the School of Law and Equity was renamed as the Washington and Lee University School of Law, in line with the college's name change in honor of General Lee. Also in 1870, former Virginia Attorney General John Randolph Tucker was appointed to the faculty and later became Dean followed by his son Henry St. George Tucker, Sr. In 1900, the law school moved into the newly built Tucker Hall in memory of Dean Tucker. Tucker Hall also housed the law school's first law library—the Vincent L. Bradford Law Library. After significant periods of growth, the law school moved into new Tucker Hall after the original building was destroyed in a fire and the law library was rebuilt with a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. In 1920, W&L Law joined the Association of American Law Schools. The Washington and Lee Law Review began publication in the Autumn of 1939 and is still in regular publication. After World War II, enrollment increased despite a period of low enrollment during the war. In 1950, the School of Law established its chapter of the Order of the Coif, one of only 80 such chapters in the country. The School of Law admitted its first female students in 1972, and opened its current home, Sydney Lewis Hall, in 1977. In 1992, the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Wing was added to Sydney Lewis Hall and the Wilbur C. Hall Law Library at a dedication ceremony attended by Justice Powell and presided over by Chief Justice William Rhenquist. In 2008, Dean Rodney Smolla instituted the new third-year program. This new and unique program turned the entire third year into an experiential curriculum which emphasizes practice, professionalism, and service. The program became compulsory for W&L Law students in 2011. Nora Demleitner became Dean effective July 1, 2012, the first woman to hold the position and the 17th overall since 1849.[3]

Facilities[edit]

Sydney Lewis Hall
Sydney Lewis Hall

Sydney Lewis Hall is the home of the school of law on the historic campus of Washington and Lee in Lexington, Virginia. Lewis Hall was built in 1977 with a $9 million gift from Best Products founder Sydney Lewis and his wife Frances of Virginia. In addition to lecture halls, classrooms, and offices for faculty and staff, Lewis Hall houses the 150-seat Millhiser Moot Courtroom with the accompanying Robert E. Stroud Judge's Chambers and the Roger D. Groot Jury Room. Lewis Hall also has a cafeteria for students, staff, and faculty called the Brief Stop, which serves food, snacks, and drinks. As part of its $35 million campaign, Honor Our Past, Build Our Future, the School of Law will begin an $8 million renovation and modernization project in the summer of 2014 and complete it at the end of the summer of 2015. The project will result in more flexible space for student collaboration and study, new homes for four of the school's legal clinics and student organizations, more natural lighting, a new library reading room, a new high-tech trial courtroom, and an improved entry sequence and navigation for the building.[4][5]

Lewis Hall's cornerstones are the Wilbur C. Hall Law Library and Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Wing. The 58,155-square-foot (5,402.8 m2) Wilbur C. Hall Law Library is a Federal Depository Library for the U.S. Government and includes a separate faculty library, a rare book room, and an audio-visual media center and is open 24-hours a day. The library houses more than 439,347 volumes and is unique in offering each student personally designated work and storage space. The Powell Wing was built in 1992 to house the professional and personal papers and archives of the United States Supreme Court Justice and noted W&L alum as well as other manuscript collections, rare books, and archives of the law school.[6] The Powell Wing includes an expanded main reading room space, in addition to stack area and work space for the papers. The archives are managed by full-time staff and are open to researchers, faculty, and students. Woods Creek Apartments, across the street from Lewis Hall, serve as on-campus residence apartments for law students, though about 90% of law students choose to live off-campus.[7]

Programs and admissions[edit]

W&L Law's full-time Juris Doctor program, one of the smallest in the country, is the primary degree-program at the Law School. The Class of 2016 numbered 112 students with a median LSAT of 164 and a median undergraduate grade point average of 3.51.[8] The current admissions rate at W&L Law is 24.3%.[9] International exchange programs are available for Juris Doctor students with the Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, University of Western Ontario in London (Canada), Trinity College in Dublin, and the University of Copenhagen in Copenhagen. The School of Law also offers a small LLM program to foreign educated lawyers and a joint Juris Doctor and Master of Health Administration program with Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

Rankings and reputation[edit]

Washington and Lee University School of Law ranked 43rd out of 194 nationally in the 2015 U.S. News & World Report ranking of America's law schools, and ranked 24th out of 194 nationally in reputation among lawyers and judges in the same survey.[10] Since the U.S. News rankings of law schools were first released in 1987, W&L Law has had an average ranking of 24th nationally, ranging from a high of 18 to a low of 43.[11][12][13][14] Brian Leiter ranked W&L Law's endowment-per-student as 14th in the country, at $214,000 per student, when adjusted for cost-of-living.[15] Above the Law ranked W&L Law 37th nationally in their 2014 Top 50 Law Schools rankings[16] and 2nd nationally in their rankings for the top-rated law schools when measuring student and alumni satisfaction.[17] National Jurist ranked W&L Law 15th in its list of best law schools for standard of living and 18th in its ranking of the best law libraries.[18][19] The 2013 edition of On Being a Black Lawyer: The Black Student's Guide to Law Schools, ranked W&L Law 25th in its rankings of the best law schools for black law students.[20] In 2013, National Jurist named W&L's law faculty as the 10th most influential in legal education (the only entire faculty on the list)[21] and 18th in 2014[22] as well as awarding W&L Law's practical training program a B+ grade in its 2014 listing of the best law schools for practical training.[23] A ranking of scholarly impact published in the University of St. Thomas Law Journal ranked the faculty 30th nationally.[24] Washington and Lee's The Law News has been awarded the ABA's award of the finest law school student newspaper three times, in 1985, 2013, and 2014.[25]

Bar Exam Results[edit]

W&L's Virginia bar passage rate on the July 2014 exam was 89.19% (the state average was 72.86%), second amongst the eight law schools in the state (and only 0.22% behind the highest scoring University of Virginia School of Law).[26]

Post-graduation employment[edit]

Based on Class of 2013 data, 64% of W&L Law graduates obtained full-time, long term JD-required or preferred, non-school funded jobs within 9 months of graduation. 40% of the 2013 graduates obtained full-time long-term jobs in law firms (including 16% of graduates getting full-time, long term jobs in firms greater than 100 lawyers) and 9% of 2013 graduates obtained clerkships. The large law firms which employed the most W&L Law graduates were Hunton & Williams, Alston & Bird, McGuireWoods, K&L Gates, and King & Spalding.[27] The School of Law ranked 18th on the 2012 U.S. News' ranking of law schools by recruiters from the top national law firms[28] and 19th on the 2015 U.S News ranking of law schools that send the most students to clerk for a United States federal judge (6.9%).[29] The National Law Journal ranked W&L Law 34th in its 2013 "Go-To Law Schools" list of law schools that send the highest percentage of students to the 350 largest law firms in the United States.[30]

Juris Doctor curriculum[edit]

The Juris Doctor curriculum at W&L consists three unique and integrated years of full-time study with a mix of traditional casebook method and practice-oriented courses.

First-year

In the 1L year, students take required foundational courses in contract law, tort law, civil procedure, criminal law, property law, professional responsibility, administrative law, and international law. Additionally, each student is assigned a small section in which one substantive required course also serves as a legal writing course. This small section consists of approximately 20 students. 1Ls are also assigned to an upper-level student from the Burks Scholar Program who teaches legal research and Bluebook methods.

Second-year

In the 2L year, students focus on advanced coursework. W&L requires evidence law and constitutional law in the second-year as well as the completion of an upper-level writing requirement. The writing requirement can be satisfied through a seminar course, through an independent writing project, or a note in one of the law journals. All other courses in the 2L year are electives and commonly include corporate law and tax law as well as many other classes and seminars.

Third-year

The new third-year program, which began in the fall of 2010, replaced further elective advanced coursework based on the casebook method as is the norm in most ABA law schools. Instead, the program is meant to simulate client experiences. The 3L year requires students to exercise professional judgment, work in teams, solve problems, counsel clients, negotiate solutions, serve as advocates and counselors — the full complement of professional activity that engages practicing lawyers as they apply legal theory and doctrines to the real-world issues of serving clients ethically and honorably within the highest traditions of the profession.

Each semester begins with an immersion course. The two-week immersion focuses on litigation and alternative dispute resolution in the Fall semester and transactional practice in the Spring semester. Each student is then enrolled in practicum courses of their choosing. These courses cover substantive and advanced law but do so through practical methods of drafting paperwork and problem-solving rather than casebook and the socratic method. Students are also required to take a course in the legal profession as well as a law-related service requirement. Finally, each student is required to be involved in one of W&L's legal clinics, externship programs, or transnational programs to gain real-client experience. The program is flexible and allows students the ability to tailor their schedule and, if they wish, to take several traditional casebook method courses.

The Honor System[edit]

The Honor System has been run by the student body since 1905 and is derived from Robert E. Lee during his tenure as President of the University. Any student found guilty of an Honor Violation by his or her peers is subject to a single penalty: expulsion. The Honor System is defined and administered solely by students, and there is no higher review. A formal review, occasionally including referenda, is held every three years to refine the tenets of the Honor System. Students continue to support the Honor System and its single penalty overwhelmingly, and alumni regularly point to the Honor System as one of the distinctive marks they carry with them from their W&L experience. W&L Law students enjoy several distinct benefits from the Honor System. These include more freedom in exam taking as well as an informal account system at the Brief Stop cafeteria in Sydney Lewis Hall. These are balanced by the strict penalty of a violation of the Honor System.

Students pledge the following prior to turning in assignments and exams:

"On my honor, I have neither given nor received any unacknowledged aid on this (exam, test, paper, etc.)."

Clinics, journals, moot court, and centers[edit]

Wilbur C. Hall Law Library
Wilbur C. Hall Law Library

The Law School houses several clinical programs:

The Law School is home to the following centers, archives, and projects:

The Law School offers five moot court programs:

The Law School is host to four academic journals:

Student organizations[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

W&L Law has produced many notable graduates in Virginia, and at the national and global level. Included amongst the alumni ranks are two Justices of the United States Supreme Court, six Presidents of the American Bar Association, two Solicitors General of the United States, one major party candidate for President of the United States, Presidential Cabinet members, as well as numerous state governors, United States Congressmen, United States Senators, federal and state judges, influential academics, business leaders, and distinguished attorneys. The list below is not exhaustive. The date following the name is the Law School class. Alumni with two dates also attended as undergraduates and the order is alphabetical.

Notable faculty[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]