Legal education began at William & Mary in 1779, at the urging of Thomas Jefferson. He was governor of Virginia at the time and a member of the College’s Board of Visitors. Jefferson believed that aspiring members of the profession should be trained to be citizen lawyers — passionate legal advocates and honorable human beings. John Marshall, the nation’s fourth chief justice, studied here. So have generations of human rights activists, community leaders and defenders of the wrongfully accused.
Our remarkable history is matched only by our commitment to building the legal skills of our students, equipping them to become excellent lawyers who will make a difference in the world.
Our faculty are experienced mentors who exemplify the citizen-lawyer ideal. In every course, they use their professional and personal insights to emphasize the human element of the practice of law. Our students arrive with sharp intellects and wildly diverse talents and dedicate their time to collaborating on projects of real worth. In our Legal Practice Program, and in our clinics and externship program, they learn how to practice skillfully and with integrity.
|Director of admissions||Faye F. Shealy|
|Application deadline||March 1|
|Approximate number of applications||4227|
|Tuition and fees Full-time:||$32,000 per year (in-state)
$41,000 per year (out-of-state)
|Room and board||$10,035|
How we grade
In the first year, faculty may grade solely on examinations or may also consider class participation when assigning the final grade.
In upper-level elective and seminar courses, your academic work may be graded entirely by an exam or paper; or the professor may factor with the exam or paper grade, any of the following or combination of the following:
|F||(fail -- 0 quality points that will factor into your grade point average, no credit is earned)|
Mandatory Grade Policy (explanation follows this chart):
|Type of Class||Minimum GPA||Target GPA||Maximum GPA||Grade Distribution (described below)|
||3.25||3.30||3.35||Must substantially follow distribution as determined by the Vice Dean.|
||3.25||3.30||3.35||Should follow distribution to the extent practicable.|
||3.20||3.30||3.40||Should follow distribution to the extent practicable.|
|A (including A+ if available)||10%|
|B- or below||15%|
|A (including A+ if available)||10%|
|B- or below||15%|
Beginning spring 2012, the Law School faculty instituted the awarding of Latin Honors to the JD graduating class. This notation will appear both on the transcript and the diploma. The honors are designated as:
|Cum Laude||meaning "with honor" and is awarded to the those students whose rounded rank gpa places them in the top 25% of the graduating class.|
|Magna Cum Laude||meaning "with great honor" and is awarded to the those students whose rounded rank gpa places them in the top 10% of the graduating class.|
|Summa Cum Laude||meaning "with highest honor" and is awarded to the those students whose rounded rank gpa places them in the top 3% of the graduating class.|
|Order of the Coif||The Order of the Coif is a national scholastic honor society in law. Its purpose is "to foster a spirit of careful study and to mark in a fitting manner those who have attained a high grade of scholarship" in the study of law. The English Order of the Coif was the most ancient and one of the most honored institutions of the common law. Its origins possibly antedated the Norman Conquest. The American Order of the Coif was founded in 1912. Membership in the Order of the Coif is the highest accolade a law student may achieve, it is equivalent to membership in Phi Beta Kappa for undergraduates. Order of the Coif recognizes the scholastic achievement of students selected from the exact top ten percent of their class upon graduation. Only those students who earn 75% of their required credits for graduation through William & Mary Law School graded credits are eligible for induction to the William & Mary Chapter of Order of the Coif. Consequently, transfer students are rarely eligible for induction.|
|Name of Award||Awarded for/to|
|ABA-BNA Award for Excellence in Health Law|
|ABA-BNA Award for Excellence in Intellectual Property Law|
|The American Bankruptcy Institute Award|
|American Bar Association State and Local Government Award|
|Clinical Legal Education Association Outstanding Student Award|
|John Donaldson Tax Award|
|The William Hamilton Prize in Legal History|
|The Family Law Book Award|
|Robert R. Kaplan International Financial Law Award|
|The Kruchko & Fries Prize in Employment Law|
|Legal Practice Scholars Award|
|Lewis B Puller, Jr. Veterans' Benefits Clinic Award for Excellence|
|Master of Laws Excellence in Legal Education Award|
|Master of Laws Legal Writing Award|
|Master of Laws Service Award|
|Special Education Advocacy Award|
|Virginia Trial Lawyers Award|
|Drapers' Scholarship||The Drapers' Company of London provides a scholarship from Queen Mary College of the University of London for a year of post-graduate study. The Law School student selected for this award is known as the Drapers' Scholar. The student enrolls at Queen Mary College and may register for courses at any of the other four colleges of the University of London that offer law courses. These include King's College, the London School of Economics and Political Science, University College and the School of Oriental and African Studies. In addition, the library of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies is available for use by the Drapers' Scholar. The scholarship includes tuition, round-trip transportation, room and board and a stipend to defray other living expenses.|
|Dean's Certificate||Each year the Dean awards Dean's Certificates to a select group of students who have initiated new projects, led organizations, participated enthusiastically in Law School or community activities, or demonstrated special initiative on behalf of the Law School.|
|Ewell Award||In 1987, the Student Assembly established an award to honor well-rounded graduating students - both graduate and undergraduate - of the College, those who best exemplify a liberal arts education through their activities as well as studies. This award was named in honor of Benjamin Stoddert Ewell, the 16th President of the College, who by ringing the Wren Building bell kept the College alive when its doors closed during the Civil War. Ewell recognized that students are the heart of the College's existence and continued the spirit until the students could bring life back to campus.|
|The Lawrence W. I'Anson Award||The Lawrence W. I'Anson Award is presented to a member of each graduating class who in the judgment of the Law School faculty has shown evidence of great promise through scholarship, character and leadership. The award honors Lawrence W. I'Anson of Portsmouth, Virginia, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia and former President of the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts.|
|The Herrmann Prize||This prize is awarded to the student who in the opinion of the Dean, President of the National Center for State Courts, and the Director of the Courtroom 21 Project has demonstrated the greatest potential for making future contributions to the enhancement of the efficient administration of justice through the innovative use of technology. The award honors Richard Herrmann, the Millennium Lawyer.|
|Order of Barristers||This honor recognizes, on a national basis, graduating law students who excelled as student advocates in written and oral advocacy activities and competition. The award specifically honors those students who have had a high level of performance or participation in: interscholastic competitions; the administration of a moot court program; or teaching and development of the moot court team.|
|The Thurgood Marshall Award||Given annually by the William & Mary Law School Association, this award is presented at graduation to that member of the William & Mary Law School community, whether student, faculty, friend or alumnus, who best exhibits the ideals of distinguished public service exemplified by Justice Marshall.|
|National Association of Women Lawyers||The award recognizes the outstanding law graduate of each American Bar Association-approved law school. The award is given to a student who contributes to the advancement of women in society; promotes issues and concerns of women in the legal profession; exhibits motivation, tenacity and enthusiasm; demonstrates academic achievement; and earns the respect of the dean and faculty.|
|Thatcher Prize||The Thatcher Prize is given to an outstanding graduate student completing an advanced degree in Arts and Sciences, Education, Marine Science, Business Administration or Law, and is awarded on the basis of scholarship, character, leadership, and service. The recipient is chosen by the Commencement Committee during the Spring semester on the basis of letters of nomination from members of the College community.|
|Spong Professionalism Award||The Spong Professionalism award is given by the Society of the Alumni of the College of William & Mary to a third-year law student who best exemplified professionalism and ethics in the Legal Skills Program.|
|The George Wythe Award||Through the generosity of Robert Friend Boyd J.D. '52 and his wife Sara Miller Boyd '55, the George Wythe Award was created to recognize a member of the graduating class for his or her deep devotion and outstanding service to the Law School. The award honors George Wythe, the Law School's - and nation's - first professor of law.|
|CALI Excellence for the Future Award||The CALI Excellence for the Future scholastic awards program was designed by the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction to recognize academic excellence. The CALI award is presented to the student who has made the most significant contribution to legal scholarship in any law school course.|
|Wayne M. Lee Endowed Book Award||Established by Wayne M. Lee '75, this award honors the member of the first-year class who, upon completion of the first semester, attains the highest grade point average.|
|Gambrell Professionalism Award||The Gambrell Award is presented at the end of the second year of Legal Skills to the top student in each of the Legal Skills firms. These awards are possible because of an endowment that was established with the cash award that accompanied the receipt of the first national ABA Gambrell Award for Legal Professionalism presented to the Legal Skills Program in 1992.|
Journal credit is determined by the outgoing editorial staff consistent with academic policies adopted by the faculty. Students can participate in a joint journal competition following one full-year of law school at William & Mary. The competition results in placement of eligible students to one of the five journals.
If you become eligible for journal credit, you will be enrolled in the appropriate number of credits (from 1 to 4) upon recommendation by the editorial staff and approval of the Law School administration. Journal credit is pass/fail. You can earn credit for work on only one law journal per semester.
Selection for our five student-edited journals is made through a journal competition held at the end of the 1L year. These journals feature the scholarship of professors, judges, and attorneys and include the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, the William & Mary Business Law Review, the William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review, the William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, and the William and Mary Law Review. Journal members also write student notes, which are legal research papers that may be selected for publication.
The William and Mary Law Review
By publishing an annual volume of legal writing containing both professional and student work, the Law Review provides a forum for academic treatment of legal issues, offers a unique educational opportunity for its student members, and aids practitioners in understanding recent developments in the law. Members of the legal community generally consider law reviews persuasive reference sources and significant avenues to effect legal and social reform. During the last decade, state and federal courts, including the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, Ninth, Tenth, and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeal, have cited the William & Mary Law Review more than two hundred times. In 2005, Justice Scalia cited the William & Mary Law Review in his dissent from the United States Supreme Court's decision finding that the posting of the Ten Commandments in a Kentucky courthouse violated the Establishment Clause. See McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union, 545 U.S. 844, 887 (2005) (Scalia, J., dissenting). More recently, in 2008, Justice Stevens cited the William & Mary Law Review in his dissent from the Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 666 (2008) (Stevens, J., dissenting), where the Court struck down a handgun ban under the Second Amendment.
The William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal
Named among the leading student-edited constitutional law journals by Washington and Lee’s law library, the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal is published in four issues per annual volume, adding almost 1,400 pages to the Institute’s scholarly corpus each year. Containing both student-edited professional articles and student-written notes, staff membership is open to all interested students, but the competition for admission is intense.
The William & Mary Business Law Review
The William & Mary Business Law Review (BLR) is a scholarly publication of professional articles and student notes, edited and operated by students of the William & Mary Law School. BLR is dedicated to the nexus between business, law, and ethics.
The mission of BLR is to: (i) publish articles that analyze new laws and challenge existing laws; (ii) provide lawyers, students, judges, politicians, and scholars a practical research tool; and (iii) provide students of the William & Mary Law School an opportunity to receive a more comprehensive legal education through participation as student staff members of BLR.
In 2011, the William & Mary Business Law Review became the fifth credit conferring academic law journal at William & Mary Law School. The faculty at William & Mary Law School voted Thursday evening, February 10, 2011, to approve BLR as a credit conferring journal beginning in the 2011-2012 academic year. This vote marked the end of a two-year evaluation period and the commencement of BLR’s status as a permanent journal at the law school—forever to serve the world of academia bearing the prestigious William & Mary name.
The William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review
The W&M Law School Scholarship Repository acquires, organizes, archives, and provides open access to the scholarly output of the W&M Law School's academic, research, and administrative communities. The repository is administered by The Wolf Law Library. Librarians work with the law school community to obtain and describe content before adding it to the repository.
The William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law
The Journal of Women and the Law was established in 1993 to provide a forum for scholarly debate on gender-related legal issues. As a facilitator of scholarly debate, the Journal does not promote a fixed ideology, but is instead a forum for open discussion and varying viewpoints. The Journal has attained its goal of becoming one of the nation's top specialty journals, and we wish to remain in that position by continuously publishing cutting edge pieces and providing our members with a forum to write and publish their own high quality work.
W&M Moot Court team members competed in numerous tournaments during the 2016-17 season.
The Moot Court Program is one of William & Mary Law School’s best opportunities for students to develop and refine oral advocacy and brief writing skills. Team members participate in moot court tournaments, which require each team to research and write an appellate brief, then defend it before a panel of judges in an oral argument. Membership on Moot Court is an honor, and tryouts for the team are competitive.
Each year William & Mary’s Moot Court Team sends its members to approximately fifteen inter-collegiate moot court tournaments around the nation. William & Mary’s teams have enjoyed resounding success, and some of the teams accomplishments from 2012-14 include: winning the Judge Brown Admiralty Law Competition in New Orleans, Louisiana; advancing to the semi-finals in the Vale Corporate Securities Law competition in Wilmington, DE; advancing to the semi-finals at the Kaufmann Securities Moot Court Tournament in New York, NY; competing in the National Championships of the American College of Trial Laywers/New York City Bar Association National Moot Court Championship; advancing to the quarterfinals at the Andrews Kurth Moot Court National Championships, a tournament that included only the top 16 moot court teams in the country; and advancing to the International Finals of the Stetson University International Environmental Moot Court Compeition.
In addition to competing, the William & Mary Moot Court Team annually hosts the William B. Spong Invitational Moot Court Tournament. Now in its forty-sixth year, the Spong Tournament focuses on current issues in constitutional law. Rounds are judged completely by panels of federal and state court judges. The Virginia Trial Lawyers Association co-sponsors the tournament, and its representatives also serve as judges. Competitors at the Spong Tournament represent schools from across the United States.
William & Mary Law School offers many opportunities to practice the wide range of skills necessary to provide clients with competent representation of the highest caliber and be successful in the practice of law. Students have many opportunities in their second and third years to represent real clients in actual cases through our clinical program; the hard part might be choosing among all the clinics we offer.
Starting Salaries (2015 Graduates Employed Full-Time)
|Private sector (25th-75th percentile)||$75,000 - $145,000|
|Median in the private sector||$97,500|
|Median in public service||$53,800|
|Graduates known to be employed at graduation||48.9%|
|Graduates known to be employed ten months after graduation||75.8%|
|Graduates Employed In||Percentage|
|Business and Industry||12.2%|
|Public Interest Organizations||6.1%|
Students may earn academic credit by externing in a legal or law-related setting. Externships combine the benefits of complementing traditional classroom education, enhancing practical skills, and exposure to a broad range of substantive and procedural law.
The externship program is governed by both the American Bar Association’s Standards and Executive Committee Regulations of the Association of American Law Schools.
We offer the following types of externships: