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.
|Director of admissions||Lisa Rodocker|
|Application deadline||July 1|
|Approximate number of applications||1908|
|Tuition and fees Full-time:||$47,437 per year|
|Room and board||$15,623|
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:
Minimum GPAs Required (Based on May 2015 graduation class)
|Minimum GPA required for graduation||2.0 cumulative|
|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%|
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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|
|Graduates known to be employed at graduation||63.2%|
|Graduates known to be employed ten months after graduation||81.6%|
|Graduates Employed In||Percentage|
|Business and Industry||10.5%|
|Public Interest Organizations||9.2%|
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: