Washington and Lee University School of Law Profile, Lexington, Virginia | BCGSearch.com

Washington and Lee University School of Law

Rank 28


Sydney Lewis Hall,

Lexington, VA 24450









Overview 4-5

One of the smallest of the nation's top-tier law schools, Washington and Lee School of Law is located in a college town in the majestic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, a three-hour drive from Washington, DC and within an hour of several other metropolitan areas.

W&L Law has long been an innovator in legal education, and these innovations have allowed the School to build a singular community that educates students for character and challenges them to solve the problems they will face in a complex world. It fosters a desire not simply to act, but to act intelligently and ethically.

The Washington and Lee University School of Law's mission is to provide an extraordinary and innovative program of legal education. We emphasize critical thinking and effective oral and written communication. We are committed to law and justice at all levels: local, national, and international. By assembling an academically exceptional and diverse student body in small instructional settings, the law school aims to produce ethically grounded professionals possessing a unique combination of intellectual and practical ability, with the motivation to serve. We also seek to enrich public discourse by sustaining an outstanding faculty from a spectrum of backgrounds and experiences.

Washington and Lee University provides a liberal arts education that develops students' capacity to think freely, critically, and humanely and to conduct themselves with honor, integrity, and civility. Graduates will be prepared for life-long learning, personal achievement, responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.

Student-Faculty Ratio 6


Admission Criteria 7

25th-75th Percentile 155-161 3.16-3.67
Median* 160 3.47

The above LSAT and GPA data pertain to the fall 2016 entering class.

Director of admissions Lisa Rodocker
Application deadline July 1

Law School Admissions details based on 2016 data.

*Medians have been calculated by averaging the 25th- and 75th-percentile values released by the law schools and have been rounded up to the nearest whole number for LSAT scores and to the nearest one-hundredth for GPAs.

Admission Statistics 7

Approximate number of applications 1908
Number accepted 895
Percentage accepted 46.9%

The above admission details are based on 2015 data.

Law School Cost 8

Tuition and fees Full-time: $47,437 per year
Room and board $15,623
Books $2,500
Miscellaneous expenses $0

Class Ranking and Grades 9-11

Exact class standings are not released. Each student, however, is informed of his or her grade-point average, and may divulge this information to prospective employers. In addition, each student can determine the approximate percentile in the class in which he or she falls because students are provided with grade-point cutoffs at five percent intervals.

The following grading scale is used by the law school:

Law Grade Points
A 4.00
A- 3.67
B+ 3.33
B 3.00
B- 2.67
C+ 2.33
C 2.00
C- 1.67
D+ 1.33
D 1.00
D- 0.67
F 0.00

The grade points for a course are found by multiplying the number of credits awarded for the course times the appropriate grade points. For this and other grade calculations, Pass (P), No Pass (NP), (LP) Low Pass, Honors (H), Incomplete (I), Work-in-Progress (WIP) or No Grade Reported (NGR) entries do not count and should not be used.

Pass/No Pass Policies

Any elective course (but no required course, and no clinic, externship classroom component, or practicum) may be taken on a pass/no pass basis unless the instructor, before the beginning of the semester in which the course is offered, denies students this option. A student who elects to take a course or courses pass/no pass must (l) also meet for the semester the requirements for graded class work in Paragraph 3 of the Law School Catalog (Juris Doctor-Degree Requirements) and (2) file in the Law Records Office a written election to take the course or courses on a pass/no pass basis no later than three weeks after the beginning of the semester. When a pass/no pass election has been filed, it cannot be withdrawn except as provided in the following paragraph.

A grade of C or higher shall be recorded as P (Pass). A grade of C- or lower shall be recorded as NP (Not Passing) unless the student promptly files in the Law Records Office an election to accept the letter grade. Neither a grade of P nor a grade of NP shall affect the student's cumulative average. Any semester hours for which a grade of NP is recorded shall not be included in the total semester hours the student has completed toward the minimum required for a degree. If a student who has received a grade of C- or lower elects to accept the letter grade, it shall be treated as a grade in a graded course for all purposes.

Grade Normalization (Curve)12

Minimum GPAs Required (Based on May 2015 graduation class)

Top 10% 3.745
Top 25% 3.614
Top 33% 3.549
Top 50% 3.421
Top 75% 3.257
Median GPA 3.418
Minimum GPA required for graduation 2.0 cumulative

Honors 13

Honor Criteria
Order of the Coif The English Order of the Coif was the most ancient and one of the most honored institutions of the common law. It was an association of lawyers who for centuries had the sole right to appear as barristers in the Court of Common Pleas. The Order takes its name from the word used to designate the cap all the members of the Order were compelled to wear. This cap or coif was originally of white lawn or silk, forming a close-fitting hood. Later when wigs came into fashion, the coif was changed to a circular piece of white lawn fastened to the top of the wig. The real decline in the power and influence of the Order came through the appointment of King's counsel but despite efforts to change it, the Order remained the sole body of accepted practitioners at the Common Pleas Bar down to the Judicature Act.

The American Order of the Coif is the outgrowth of an earlier society known as Theta Kappa Nu, founded in 1902 for the purpose of promoting scholarship among American law students. In 1912 the society was reorganized as the Order of the Coif "to foster a spirit of careful study and to mark in a fitting manner those who have attained a high grade of scholarship." Students in the top 10% of their graduating class are eligible for membership. Local chapters also recognize honorary members.
Summa cum laude top 5%
Magna cum laude next 10%
Cum laude next 15%

Awards 15-16

Name of Award Awarded for/to
John W. Davis Award Graduate/best record for general excellence
Kirgis International Award Graduate/outstanding record/international law
Academic Progress Award Most marked improvement in final year
Calhoun Bond University Significant contribution to W&L Community
James W. H. Stewart Tax Law Award Excellence in the study of Tax Law
Roy L. Steinheimer Commercial Law Graduate/outstanding record - commercial law
National Assoc. of Woman Lawyers Outstanding Woman Lawyers
Charles V. Laughlin Award Outstanding contribution to Moot Court Prog.
Randall P. Bezanson Award Outstanding contribution to school diversity
ODK Honor Society Leadership in campus activities-from top 35%
Virginia Bar Family Law Section Award Graduate/excellence in Family Law
American Bankruptcy Institute Medal Graduate/excellence in Bankruptcy Law
Barry Sullivan Constitutional Law Graduate/excellence in Constitutional Law
Richard G. Huber Award Leadership and co-curriculum award
Thomas Carl Damewood Evidence Award Graduate/excellence in area of evidence
A.H. McLeod - Ross Malone Advocacy Graduate/distinction in Oral Advocacy
Student Bar Association President Graduate/recognition for services as Pres.
ALI CLE Scholarship & Leadership Award Graduate/combination scholarship & leadership

Louise A. Halper Award

During the seventeen years that she taught at Washington and Lee University, Professor Louise A. Halper was an advocate for minority viewpoints on campus. She founded and served as faculty advisor to the Race and Ethnic Ancestry Law Digest, which evolved into the Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice. Both inside and outside the classroom, she encouraged students, whatever their politics or beliefs, to speak their minds about today's most complicated social problems. She also urged students, via their written work, to identify and advocate for new ideas, solutions or paths towards making the world a more just society for all individuals.

Created after Professor Halper's unexpected passing in June 2008, the annual Louise A. Halper Award seeks to honor her efforts as an advocate, educator, mentor, colleague, and friend. Each spring, the Award is presented to the second-year law student who is judged to have submitted the best note for publication in the Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice. Members of the Journal's Editorial Board determine the winner.

On behalf of the entire Washington and Lee community, the Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice wishes to thank James ('98L) and Elizabeth Williams. Mr. Williams was the Editor-in-Chief of the Race and Ethnic Ancestry Law Journal when he was a law student at Washington and Lee.

Journals 17

Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

The Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice is a biannual scholarly publication focusing on legal issues that affect historically underrepresented classes of persons in a wide variety of subject matter that includes real estate, education, healthcare, environment, and public welfare. JCRSJ publishes articles submitted by leading scholars and practitioners as well as student notes. Staffwriters of JCRSJ are chosen during the summer after their first year of law school based on a writing competition. Each staffwriter is required to write a note during the second year of law school under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Selected staffwriters continue as board members of JCRSJ during the third year of law school.

Journal of Energy, Climate, and the Environment

The Washington and Lee School of Law Journal of Energy, Climate, and the Environment (JECE) is a student-edited periodical whose mission is to engage and educate the legal community, policy-makers, and the general public through our publications and symposia on climate change, energy, and environmental issues affecting local, national, and global communities. The JECE includes articles, notes, case summaries, and legislative summaries from professors, practitioners, and student staff writers focused primarily on the areas of law surrounding energy and the climate, including, but not limited to, energy generation, energy usage, and climate impacts. For environmental considerations, JECE publishes solely in an online format.

German Law Journal

The German Law Journal is an online journal that publishes commentary and scholarship in the fields of German, European and international law. Its English-language treatment of comparative and international law attracts more than two million site visits from more than 50 countries each year. W&L students have the opportunity to write book reviews, case comments, short articles, and, following instructional learning, assist in discussing and assessing submissions for the Journal.

Washington and Lee Law Review

Published four times each year, the Law Review presents lead articles contributed by leading scholars, judges, and lawyers, as well as student notes. Student writers are chosen during the summer after their first year of law school based upon grades and the results of a writing competition. Each staff writer develops a topic for original legal research, and writes over the course of the second year under the supervision of a faculty advisor and student editor. Selected writers continue as editors in the third year of law school.

Moot Court 18 -20

One of the oldest and largest student-run organizations at Washington & Lee, the Moot Court Program provides law students the opportunity to develop and refine their oral and written advocacy skills by working individually and collaboratively. The Moot Court Executive Board (“MCEB”), comprised of ten third-year law students, administers five competitions: the John W. Davis Moot Court Competition, the Robert J. Grey, Jr. Negotiations Competition, the Mock Trial Competition, the Client Counseling Competition, and the Representation in Mediation Competition. All second- and third-year students, excluding MCEB members, may compete, and first-year students may participate as witnesses, clients, timekeepers, and bailiffs.

The John W. Davis Moot Court Competition

Held annually since 1980, the John W. Davis Moot Court Competition is an appellate advocacy competition that involves a contemporary question of constitutional law. It consists of two components: preparation of an appellate brief and presentation of oral arguments (on brief and off brief). Participants may write briefs individually or in teams of two; however, all participants argue individually.

Competitors advance from the initial rounds (after both on and off brief) based on the quality of their brief and oral advocacy while they advance in later rounds based purely on oral advocacy. The Moot Court Board recognizes the Best Oralist, the three other finalists, the Best Brief writer, and the runner-up Best Brief writer with awards at the celebratory banquet following the final round.

Client Counseling Competition

The Client Counseling Competition simulates a law office consultation in which law students, acting as attorneys, are presented with a client matter. They conduct an interview with a person playing the role of the client and then explain how they would proceed further in the hypothetical situation. Students work in teams of two and advance as a team.

Competitors are also responsible for providing a person to act as their “client” for the opening rounds. The client can be anyone who is not participating in the competition or on the Moot Court Executive Board. Teams in past years have asked first year law students to act as clients as well as undergraduate students and upper-level law students.

The client is given a fact pattern, and the competitors receive a one or two sentence description of the reason for the client's visit. The competitors interview and counsel the client on his/her legal problem. The competition evaluates students' ability to establish a rapport with the client, discover relevant facts, spot legal issues, and adhere to codes of professional responsibility. The winning teams are invited to represent W&L at the ABA-sponsored Regional Client Counseling Competition.

The opening rounds of the competition will last 25 minutes per team. Competitors will have 20 minutes with their clients, and 5 minutes for post-interview reflections. They will then receive feedback from the judges.

Clinical Programs 21

One of the most significant opportunities afforded by a law school education at W&L is its legal clinics. Third-year students help to meet the need for legal assistance in the region and, at the same time, develop client contact and advocacy skills. The faculty have developed programs that deliver lawyering up close: tough lessons and real-life decisions that the profession deals with every day.

Enrollment in an in-house clinic or approved externship course satisfies the "actual practice" requirement of the Washington and Lee University School of Law third-year curriculum.

Advanced Administrative Litigation Clinic (Black Lung)

This clinic represents physically disabled coal miners and their widows under the federal "Black Lung" benefits program. This includes preparing appeals to either the Benefits Review Board or the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Community Legal Practice Center

Students in the Community Legal Practice Center represent lower income Rockbridge area residents in a general practice law firm setting. In the clinic, students assist their clients with the entire range of civil legal concerns, including family law (including child custody, adoption, and adult guardianship) and end of life planning issues.

Criminal Justice Clinic

Students in the Criminal Justice Clinic represent indigent people facing criminal charges in local trial courts.Typical cases include assault, larceny, possession of marijuana, DUI, and destruction of property.

Immigrant Rights Clinic

Students in the Immigrant Rights Clinic the primary legal representatives for non-citizen clients in immigration matters, providing legal services to persons in removal proceedings, both detained and non-detained, and with a particular focus on vulnerable populations such as refugees, unaccompanied minors, and victims of domestic violence.

Tax Clinic

Students in the Tax Clinic represent income-eligible taxpayers who have post-filing controversies with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and/or the Virginia Department of Taxation.Typical cases include representing a taxpayer who is under audit, appealing an audit, challenging an assessment, navigating collection issues, or requesting "innocent spouse" relief. In certain cases in which the taxpayer has not succeeded in resolving the problems with the IRS, the clinic might pursue litigation in the U.S. Tax Court.

Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse (VC3)

Since 1988, the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse (VC3) has served as Virginia's litigation resource center for lawyers representing defendants facing the death penalty at trial in both state and federal courts. VC3 students work in two-member teams to assist court-appointed defense counsel with legal research, discovery analysis, drafting of motions and legal memoranda, client counseling, and many other tasks involved in defending death penalty cases at trial.

Placement Facts 22

Starting Salaries (2015 Graduates Employed Full-Time)

Private sector (25th-75th percentile) $65,500 - $120,000
Median in the private sector $80,000
Median in public service $54,000

Employment Details

Graduates known to be employed at graduation 63.2%
Graduates known to be employed ten months after graduation 81.6%

Areas of Legal Practice

Graduates Employed In Percentage
Law Firms 50%
Business and Industry 10.5%
Government 10.5%
Judicial Clerkships 19.1%
Public Interest Organizations 9.2%
Academia 0.7%
Unknown 0%



Externships at Washington and Lee offer students the opportunity to work in placements off-campus as part of a unique educational experience that moves the student toward the world of legal practice. Placements include externships with State and Federal Judges, Commonwealth, City, and County Attorney's Offices, United States Attorney's Offices, Offices of the Public Defender, Corporate and University Counsel, Legal Services, Bankruptcy Trustees, private law firms, governmental agencies in Washington, D.C., and other legal agencies and organizations.

Welcome to the Washington and Lee University School of Law externship webpage. Externships at Washington and Lee offer students the opportunity to work in placements off-campus and increase the knowledge, skills, and attributes that they will need to transition from student to fully prepared member of the legal community.

Externship opportunities serve a critical role in third-year experiential learning. Students engage in off-campus placement contemporaneous with a classroom component. Both are designed to engage the student in a unique educational experience and move the student toward the world of legal practice. Enrollment in an externship course satisfies the “actual practice” requirement of the Washington and Lee University School of Law third-year curriculum. Ideally, students will strive to accomplish four things in an externship:

  • Improve their legal skills, such as research, writing and analysis or negotiation, client communication and courtroom demeanor;
  • Increase their knowledge of a substantive area of law such as criminal justice, administrative law, corporate law, or employment law;
  • Learn the mission and administration of an agency, court, or non-profit or for-profit entity and explore how the organization accomplishes its mission; and
  • Perhaps most importantly, begin to develop a concept of professional identity.

Student externs spend one to two days at their externship site each week, and must enroll in an accompanying course taught by Washington and Lee’s Externship Program Director and Clinical Professor of Law, Mary Z. Natkin, or other designated faculty. Externship faculty maintain an ongoing “conversation” with supervisors, who are asked to evaluate their extern at the midpoint and the close of the semester.

General Externships

Students can work at a variety of offsite placements that offer an experience different from other clinic, externship, or transnational course offerings. Externs have worked with City and County Attorney Offices, Corporate and University Counsel, Legal Aid, Public Defenders, or other legal organizations. Other options include state or federal agencies, public interest organizations, etc. Select bankruptcy externships with bankruptcy practitioners and trustees are also available for students that have taken the bankruptcy course. Students must receive Professor Natkin’s approval for a placement prior to acceptance as an extern.

DC Program

Students may apply in their second year to extern with qualifying placements in the Washington, DC area in the fall semester of their third year. Placement supervisors provide students with substantive work and meaningful feedback. Students enroll in an externship seminar and accompanying practicum established by Washington and Lee in Washington, DC. For students maintaining their residence in Lexington for the full-year, financial assistance will be provided (not to exceed the cost of your Lexington residence) of up to $1500 per student. Students are responsible for their own housing and expenses in DC. The application process for the subsequent year begins in March.

  • Judicial Externships
  • Public Prosecutors Externships


The Transnational Law Institute supports and coordinates teaching innovations, externships, internships, job opportunities, a speaker series, and visiting faculty to help prepare students for the increasing globalization of legal practice. The Institute, which was established in 2006, is committed to the integrated study of international and comparative law, as well as those aspects of U.S. law that involve cross-border issues.

The Institute assists students in assuming internships involving international or comparative law matters in a broad array of organizations. These students are designated Institute Summer Associates or, in the case of post-graduate externships, as Institute Associates. In each of 2012 and 2011, ten students participated in these programs.

Student Organizations 30

  • American Constitution Society (ACS)
  • Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA)
  • Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
  • Christian Legal Society (CLS)
  • Executive Committee (EC)
  • Federalist Society (Fed Soc)
  • German Law Journal (GLJ)
  • Henry IV Society
  • J. Reuben Clark Law Society
  • Jewish Law Student Association (JLSA)
  • Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice (JCRSJ)
  • Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA)
  • Law Families
  • Law News
  • Law Review
  • Lewis Powell, Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series (Powell Board)
  • Moot Court Executive Board (MCEB)
  • OutLaw
  • Phi Alpa Delta Law Fraternity (PAD)
  • Phi Delta Phi
  • Pro Bono Board
  • Public Interest Law Students Association (PILSA)
  • Sports, Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law Society (SEIPLS)
  • Sports Czars
  • St. Thomas More Society
  • Student Bar Association (SBA)
  • Student Judicial Committee (SJC)
  • Transnational Law Institute's Student Anti-Corruption Consortium (TLI-STACC)
  • Washington and Lee Veterans' Advocates (WLVA)
  • Women Law Students Organization (WLSO)


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  21. https://law.wlu.edu/clinics
  22. https://premium.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/washington-and-lee-university-03163/career-prospects
  23. http://law.wlu.edu/about-wandl-law/curriculum/clinics-and-externships
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