Vanderbilt University Law School

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Vanderbilt Law School
Vanderbilt Law School logo.svg
Established 1874
School type Private
Endowment $100 Million
Parent endowment $4.1 Billion
Dean Chris Guthrie
Location Nashville, TN, US
Enrollment 640
Faculty 100[1]
USNWR ranking 17[2]
Bar pass rate 92.5%[1]

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,[3] and is currently ranked 17th in the 2018 edition of U.S. News & World Report.[4] Vanderbilt Law School enrolls approximately 640 students, with each entering Juris Doctor 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.[5]

According to Vanderbilt Law School's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 85.9% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, bar examination passage-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo practitioners.[6]


The Law School Building in the early morning

The total enrollment of students pursuing either a Juris Doctor (J.D) or LL.M. is approximately 640. The program usually admits no more than 175 students to the J.D. class, and approximately 50 students to the LL.M class each year. VLS has more than 45 student organizations,[7] 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.


Thomas H. Malone, dean from 1875 to 1904.
VLS was based in Kirkland Hall from 1944 to 1962.

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).[8] 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. William Frierson Cooper, who had been nominated by Jefferson Davis to serve on the Supreme Court of the Confederate States of America, served as the first dean from 1874 to 1875.[9][10] He was succeeded by Thomas H. Malone, a veteran of the Confederate States Army,[11] who served as dean from 1875 to 1904.[10]

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.[12]

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.


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,[13] 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 [14] for the establishment of a national MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience.[15]

Vanderbilt's Ph.D. Program in Law & Economics was the first program of its kind in the nation[citation needed]. 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.

Vanderbilt Law School also offers a summer study program, Vanderbilt in Venice,[16] which is open to students from all accredited law schools and offers courses in comparative and international law.

Post-graduation employment[edit]

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.[6] 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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[6]


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.[19]

The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $270,165.[20]


The Vanderbilt Law Review is ranked 18th among general-topic law reviews, based upon the number of times its articles are cited.[21] 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 Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review, a 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.[21]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]


  • W. Kip Viscusi, University Distinguished Professor of Law, Economics, and Management and the Co-Director of the Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics
  • 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.
  • James Blumstein, University Professor of Constitutional Law and Health Law and Policy



  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Legal Research Paper Series | Stanford Law School" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  4. ^ "Vanderbilt Law School profile". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 2016-12-30. 
  5. ^ "Vanderbilt Law School :: Article Detail". 2014-01-20. Retrieved 2015-01-13. 
  6. ^ a b c "Section of Legal Education, Employment Summary Report". American Bar Association. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Vanderbilt Law School :: About Vanderbilt Law School". Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  9. ^ "Noted Jurist Of Other Days. Judge William Frierson Cooper Dies in New York. Named For Supreme Bench Of Confederacy. One of Oldest Living Graduates of Yale, Having Been Tutored by Father of President Taft--Will Be Laid At Rest in Historic Ashwood.". The Tennessean. Nashville, Tennessee. May 8, 1909. pp. 1–2. Retrieved January 11, 2016 – via His supreme ability was so uniformly recognized in the South that Jefferson Davis nominated him to serve on the supreme bench of the Confederacy, which was in a measure to guide the destinies of the new republic. But this court never sat.  open access publication – free to read
  10. ^ a b c "Vanderbilt Law School Deans". Vanderbilt Law School. Vanderbilt University. Retrieved January 11, 2016. 
  11. ^ a b "Judge Malone Passes Away. Leader In Legal Profession For Many Years. Head Of Local Has Company. End Comes After Several Months Of Ill Health--Funeral Will Take Place This Afternoon From His Late Residence.". The Tennessean. Nashville, Tennessee. September 15, 1906. p. 6. Retrieved January 11, 2016 – via For a period of over twenty years he was Dean of the law department of Vanderbilt University, and gave up his work in the institution only a year and a half ago. Numerous lawyers in this community received their foundations of legal lore from him. Among those who studied with him was Judge J. M. Dickinson.  open access publication – free to read
  12. ^ "Vanderbilt Law School :: History". 2009-07-01. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  13. ^ "Vanderbilt Law School :: International Legal Studies". Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  14. ^ "Vanderbilt Law School :: Article Detail". 2011-08-24. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  15. ^ "MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience | Vanderbilt University". 2012-11-25. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  16. ^ "Vanderbilt Law School :: Vanderbilt in Venice". Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  17. ^ Leichter, Matt. "Class of 2013 Employment Report". The Law School Tuition Bubble. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  18. ^ "Vanderbilt University Profile". Law School Transparency. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  19. ^ "Estimated Cost of Attendance". Vanderbilt Law School. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "Vanderbilt University Profile, Cost". Law School Transparency. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  21. ^ a b
  22. ^ "William Vollie Alexander, Jr.". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  23. ^ "Bruce Bennett (1917–1979)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Lucius E. Burch, Jr.". the Tennessee Historical Society. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  25. ^ "Vanderbilt Board elects Mark Dalton to succeed Martha Ingram as chairman in 2011". Retrieved August 20, 2016. 
  26. ^ "Martha Craig Daughtrey". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  27. ^ "Karl Dean". Notable Names Data Base. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  28. ^ "Al Gore". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  29. ^ "Pauline LaFon Gore". Baptist Press. All Rights Reserved. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  30. ^ "Dorsey B. Hardeman". Texas State University. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  31. ^ "Leonard Lance". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  32. ^ "Gilbert S. Merritt, Jr". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  33. ^ "Luke Messer". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  34. ^ "Bill Purcell".>. Retrieved 21 February 2013.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  35. ^ "Ronald J. Rychlak". The University of Mississippi School of Law. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Fred Thompson". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  37. ^ Philips, Chuck. "The 'Batman' Who Took On Rap Obscenity". Los Angeles Times, 1990-06-18
  38. ^ "Aleta Trauger". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  39. ^ "Clay Travis". NBS Sprorts Group. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  40. ^ "Justin P. Wilson". Comptroller, State of Tennessee. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  41. ^ "Thomas A. Wiseman, Jr". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 

External links[edit]