Vanderbilt University Law School
|Vanderbilt Law School|
|Parent endowment||$3.6 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 16th in the 2015 edition of U.S. News & World Report. Vanderbilt Law School enrolls approximately 640 students, with each entering J.D. class consisting of approximately 175 students.
The dean of the law school is Chris Guthrie, who began his second five-year appointment as dean on July 1, 2014.
According to Vanderbilt Law School's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 85.9% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, bar passage-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo practitioners.
The small class size has contributed to a congenial, non-competitive atmosphere. VLS has more than 45 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.
On some Friday nights throughout the school year, various student organizations and law firms sponsor informal social gatherings known as "Blackacres," named after the outdoor courtyard in the law school building where the gatherings are often held. The law school also has an annual auction to support its Legal Aid Summer Stipend program, which provides financial assistance to enable students to do pro bono legal work during the summer break.
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, never exceeding 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 South, where it is still located.
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 a number of academic programs,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; students earn both a J.D. and a Ph.D. through the program.
Chris Guthrie succeeded Rubin as the law school's dean in July 2009. In addition to its Law and Business and Litigation and Dispute Resolution Programs, the law school now offers programs in Intellectual Property Law; International Legal Studies; Energy, Environment and Land Use Law; Criminal Justice; Social Justice; and Law and Government.Vanderbilt University and the law school also offers a joint-degree law and neuroscience program in which students earn both a J.D. and Ph.D., and the school introduced a joint-degree J.D./M.S. in Finance in conjunction with Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management in fall 2014. In fall 2011, Vanderbilt received a $4.8 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation that supports a Law and Neuroscience Research Network based at the law school and headed by Professor Owen Jones.
VLS fares well in a number of national rankings:
Vanderbilt's faculty ranked eighth among U.S. law schools in a study, "Scholarly Impact of Law Faculties in 2012: Applying Leiter Scores to Rank the Top Third," conducted by a team led by Indiana University law professor Gregory Sisk.
VLS ranked seventh for "Best Career Prospects" in 2013, 2012 and 2011; tenth for best classroom experience in 2013 and 2011 (ninth in 2012); and fifth for best quality of life (2014; fourth in 2013 and 2011, second in 2012) in Princeton Review Best Law Schools. VLS ranked tenth in a 2010 Princeton Review Top 50 Law Schools ranking that combined multiple Princeton Review rankings.
VLS ranked sixth in the 2014 U.S. News Judicial Clerkship ranking, based on the percentage of J.D. students from the class of 2012 going to federal clerkships. VLS ranked 12th in the percentage of 2013 law graduates employed in full-time, long-term jobs that request bar passage and were not funded by the school, based on ABA data. VLS ranked seventh in a 2014 American Lawyer survey asking mid-level associates at private firms to rank their law schools on how well they prepared students for practice, and seventh in a survey of law schools that saw the most alumni promoted to partner in the 250 largest law firms in 2011 cited by TaxProf Blog.
VLS ranked 15th in a Leiter's Law School Reports study of "Top 40 Law Schools by Student (Numerical) Quality, 2009-10."
The law school received 3,673 applications, for an entering class of 171 in fall 2014. The entering class of 2017 had median undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores of 3.70 and 168, respectively. http://law.vanderbilt.edu/prospective-students/class-of-2017-profile/index.aspx Fifty-six 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 2017), 53% are women and 30% are minorities; the entering class also represents 91 different undergraduate institutions, spanning 36 different states and four foreign nations. http://law.vanderbilt.edu/prospective-students/class-of-2017-profile/index.aspx
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; energy, environmental and land use law; criminal law and 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 intellectual property law; energy, environmental and land use law; international and comparative law; criminal justice; and social justice. 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.
Vanderbilt's Ph.D. Program in Law & Economics was the first program of its kind in the nation. The program, which is directed by economists W. Kip Viscusi and Joni Hersch, admitted its first class in fall 2007 and graduated its first student, Jennifer Bennett Shinall, in 2012. Shinall joined Vanderbilt's Law and Economics faculty in fall 2014.
According to Vanderbilt Law School's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 85.9% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, bar passage-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo-practitioners. Vanderbilt Law School ranked 12th out of the 201 ABA-approved law schools in terms of the percentage of 2013 graduates with non-school-funded, full-time, long-term, bar passage required jobs nine months after graduation.
Vanderbilt Law School's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 6.3%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation. 94.2% of the Class of 2013 was employed in some capacity while 1% were pursuing graduate degrees and 3.9% were unemployed nine months graduation.
The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Vanderbilt Law for the 2014-15 academic year is $74,104.
The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $270,165.
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.
- Greg Abbott - Governor of Texas - inaugurated January 20, 2015; previously served as Texas Attorney General
- Bill Alexander- United States Representative from Arkansas (1969–1993)
- Bruce Bennett '49 - 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.
- Bill Corr - United States Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama
- Martha Craig Daughtrey - Senior Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- Karl Dean - Mayor of Nashville
- Al Gore - Former 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
- Leonard Lance - United States Representative from the Seventh District of New Jersey
- Gilbert S. Merritt, Jr. - Senior Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- Luke Messer - United States Representative from the Sixth District of 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
- Fred Thompson - Former Republican presidential candidate; former United States Senator (R-TN), and actor on the television drama Law & Order
- Jack Thompson - Anti-videogame activist and disbarred attorney
- 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
- Lisa Schultz Bressman, professor of administrative law and associate dean of academic affairs
- Suzanna Sherry, author of numerous books on constitutional interpretive theory and casebooks on Civil Procedure and Federal Jurisdiction.
- W. Kip Viscusi, University Distinguished Professor of Law, Economics, and Management
- James Blumstein, University Professor of Constitutional Law and Health Law and Policy
- Brian T. Fitzpatrick, Professor of Law
- 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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