Washington & Lee University (School of Law)
Washington and Lee University was established in 1749 as Augusta Academy. In 1776 the name was changed to Liberty Hall. After George Washington endowed it with what was then the largest gift to a private educational institution in America, the trustees renamed
the school after him. The Lexington Law School became
affi liated with Washington College in 1866, while Robert E. Lee was the college’s president, and was made an integral part of the institution in 1870. After Lee’s death, Washington College was renamed Washington and Lee University. The School of Law has been a member of the Association of American Law Schools since 1920 and is approved by the American Bar Association.
The School of Law, like the University, has always chosen to be small. It increased its size when it moved into Sydney Lewis Hall, its present building, in 1976, but remains the smallest of the national law schools with an entering class each year of approximately 125 students. Sydney Lewis Hall, funded by a generous gift from Frances and Sydney Lewis of Richmond, Va., contains no classrooms seating more than 75 students, ensuring small classes. A carrel or offi ce space is provided for each student. A computer cluster is available for word processing and legal research. An addition completed
in 1992 includes the archives for the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. ’29, ’31L papers, offi ce space for the Legal Practice Clinic, expanded library space, and additional faculty offices and seminar rooms.
With a student body of 360, W&L Law is easily one of the smallest of the nation's top-tier national law schools. What does that mean for a student's legal education? It means bright, motivated students. It means a student-faculty ratio of 11-to-1, and an average class size of 22. It means constant opportunities for meaningful exchange, critical thinking, and mentoring. It means an education respected throughout the legal profession, and that means good jobs. In short, it means everything.
It is an education built on serious engagement with faculty members, who often involve students in their scholarship and guide them through the many choices of classes, clinical programs, externships, summer jobs, judicial clerkships, and other opportunities that hone their skills and move them closer to their professional goals. Instead of office hours, our faculty has an open-door policy to encourage students to drop by anytime. Professors frequently cite that kind of serious--or sometimes not so serious--give-and-take with students as their main reason for teaching at W&L. It is an intimate, intense, and involving education--one that opens doors in the workplace for W&L Law graduates.
The Frances Lewis Law Center is the research arm of the School of Law. Each year it appoints a Frances Lewis Scholar in Residence who comes for a semester to do his or her own research and to teach a seminar. These scholars have included Thomas L. Shaffer of Notre Dame; Herbert Fingarette of the University of California (Santa Barbara); Curtis R. Reitz of the University of Pennsylvania; Harold J. Berman of
Harvard; Victor G. Rosenblum of Northwestern; Roger C. Cramton of Cornell; Christopher Osakwe of Tulane; Calvin Woodard of the University of Virginia; Doug Rendleman of William and Mary; Warren Lehman of the University of Wisconsin; Ferdinand Schoeman of the University of South Carolina; John C. McCoid II of the University of Virginia; Richard Delgado of the University of Colorado; Joseph Perillo of Fordham; Lewis D. Solomon of George Washington University; Brian P. Levack of the University of Texas; Linda R. Hirshman of Chicago-Kent; Yvonne Scannell of Trinity College, Dublin; Deborah A. DeMott of Duke University; Hilary Charlesworth of the University of Melbourne; Peggy
Cooper Davis of New York University; Andrew Huxley of the University of London; David Bruck, attorney of Columbia, S.C.; Malgosia Fitzmaurice of the University of London; and Chris Whelan, of the University of Oxford. In 2004, Nicholas Bamforth of Queens College, Oxford, and David Richards of New York University were named 25th Anniversary Frances Lewis Scholars.
In addition, the Frances Lewis Law Center brings
visiting judges and lawyers to the campus for varying periods, sometimes as long as a semester. It supports research by Washington and Lee faculty and students, and it convenes scholarly colloquia on topics of current legal interest.
The instructional program is designed to provide students with a legal education in the fullest sense: not only the technical tools needed for the practice of law, but an understanding of how law operates in our society and a sensitivity to the ethical imperatives of the profession. All fi rst-year courses are required, with the fi rst semester focusing on common law subjects and
the second semester on many of the procedural aspects of our legal system. Most second- and third-year courses are elective.
There are no “majors,” and students are encouraged to obtain a broad-based legal education. Nevertheless, a student who wishes to do so may progress through courses of increasing complexity and intensiveness in areas of particular interest to him or her.
One of the particular challenges faced by the legal
profession in recent years has been ensuring the availability of quality legal representation for less-fortunate people or for public interest groups, and at the same time preserving the ability of law graduates to choose public service work, given the increasing cost of a legal education. The Edmund D. Campbell Public Interest Fund at Washington and Lee School of Law
was created to meet this challenge directly, by helping recent graduates of the School of Law repay the educational loans they owe while working in the public interest.
The Student Bar Association is the student government for the School of Law. All law students are members. It assists in the publication of the Law School News, the student newspaper. It also sponsors social events and intramural athletics throughout the school year.
Burks Scholars are third-year law students who are chosen to act as teaching assistants working with faculty in small sections of fi rst-year courses emphasizing writing and research skills. Burks Scholars are chosen on the basis of scholastic achievement, writing ability, skill in advocacy, and teaching aptitude. They receive a stipend.
Students participate in the John W. Davis Moot Court
Competition, an intramural competition for second- and
third-year students. Winners of this Competition represent the School in inter-school competitions. Students also participate in inter-scholastic competitions in trial practice, client counseling, mediation, and negotiations.
The Women Law Students Organization is open to all
students in the School of Law. Recent WLSO activities have included volunteering for a hotline for victims of domestic violence, and holding an exam seminar. It also sponsors lectures, informal meetings, and other activities focusing on legal and social issues affecting women.
The Black Law Students Association conducts programs of professional development and meets to discuss issues of particular importance to its members. It strives to increase the enrollment of minority students and to enhance the exposure of its members to the legal profession. It facilitates minority group participation in law school, community, professional and social affairs.
The International Law Society is a member of the
International Law Students Association. It sponsors guest speakers, roundtable discussions, and other activities related to international law.
The Public Interest Law Students Association was created to increase law students’ access to opportunities in public interest law. PILSA assists with obtaining funding to subsidize public interest internships and provides informational and administrative support for the job search process.
The degree of Juris Doctor (J.D.) is conferred, on recommendation of the Law Faculty, upon students admitted as candidates for the degree who successfully complete a minimum of 85 semester hours of work in six semesters in compliance with these regulations.
"MENTAL BOOT CAMP" is a term that has been used--partly in jest, partly not--to describe the first year of law school at W&L. It's not that everyone is trying to make life difficult for first-year law students, by imposing on them some sort of rite of passage. It's just that the law is different. There is nothing black-and-white about it. Often "facts" aren't even facts in a legal sense. That takes some getting used to. Success depends less on how much you absorb than on how well you learn to use it. Learning becomes a much more active endeavor, compared with even the most demanding of undergraduate educations.
At the same time, there is no arm's-length teaching at W&L. You will be expected to do a lot of writing and a lot of rewriting even in the first year, but not without feedback from full-time, tenure-track professors, all in connection with substantive courses. All first year courses are required, to give you a broad perspective of legal issues: American Public Law Process, Civil Procedure I and II, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Contracts, Property, and Torts.
AFTER THE FIRST YEAR, you go from having all required courses to having almost none. There are just two: Professional Responsibility and Constitutional Law. Beyond that, Washington and Lee School of Law offers nearly 120 electives, which gives you considerable freedom in structuring your program of study for the second and third years according to your personal interests and career objectives. The range of courses and special research seminars open to second-year and third-year students is considered remarkable for a law school the size of W&L's. It's a good idea to think about what you hope to cover during the total two-year period. While the actual requirements are minimal, giving you as much flexibility as possible, certain advanced courses or seminars do have specific prerequisites to be aware of. Starting in the second year, you will be applying rules of analysis to specific areas of the law, and there will be even more emphasis on clear, careful, and concise written and oral expression.
THE MOST PRESSING QUESTION many third-year law students across the country are asking themselves is, "which courses do I need for the bar exam?" or "what can I take that will help me get the right job?" Meanwhile, professors teaching third-year students at W&L are apt to be asking themselves, "How can I challenge this class even more? How can I push them closer and closer to becoming lawyers, not just a typical bunch of third-year law students?" The answer, W&L faculty members generally agree, is to make sure you, as a third-year student, get involved in at least one "intensive analytical experience." It might take any number of forms, extending over a semester or even an entire academic year. Or longer. The purpose is to make the third year more interesting and more challenging than anything you have experienced before, a time to sharpen your judgment as well as the other lawyerly skills you have been developing.
WASHINGTON AND LEE SCHOOL OF LAW has witnessed many changes in the 150 years since its founding in 1849. In the Law School's earliest days, Judge John White Brockenbrough was the sole faculty member, and the course of study was short. Yet the Law School made a difference in the life of the nation almost immediately, educating countless Governors and State Supreme Court Justices across the country, a Supreme Court Justice and Solicitor General of the United States, ambassadors, cabinet members, legislators, and distinguished members of the bar.
Though the profession and legal education have changed over the years, the Law School today remains a vital part of the national scene. Our graduates sit on federal and state benches throughout the nation, practice law in large corporate firms and small family practices, prosecute and defend criminal cases, represent the government at the national, state and local levels, lead businesses, advise corporations, advocate on behalf of public interest groups, and serve in the myriad of ways that lawyers have served society since the beginning of our nation.
ONE OF THE GREATEST THINGS ABOUT A LAW DEGREE is that you can do many—and very different—things with it. Whether you elect a multinational firm with headquarters on Wall Street, small-town practice on Main Street, a prosecutor's office, legal services to indigent clients, lobbying on Capitol Hill, a judicial clerkship, an in-house counsel position with a corporation, an advanced degree, or any of the other possibilities open to Washington and Lee graduates, your job search will benefit from the expertise, support, and guidance of the law school's Career Services office. Staffed by two placement professionals, both of whom are lawyers, Career Services assists students with the logistics of the job search, such as preparing resumes and cover letters, honing interview skills, and developing a search strategy, and also works to educate students about the variety of practice options. For some, a large corporate firm in an urban setting representing Fortune 500 clients in large-scale transactions is exactly the right environment, and many of our graduates choose that path. For another, it may be a position with the public defender's office, or with the Federal Communications Commission, or a judicial clerkship. No two job searches are exactly alike, and at Washington and Lee, students meet one-on-one with a placement professional to match the hundreds of opportunities available with their goals, interests, and qualifications. It's not a "one size fits all" program. You set the agenda, and we help.
One of the most significant opportunities afforded by a law school education at W&L is its legal clinics. Second- and 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.
The School of Law occupied the new Sydney Lewis Hall in 1976. The building was a gift from Frances and Sydney Lewis, a member of the law class of 1943, of Richmond, Virginia, as was the endowed Frances Lewis Law Center, established for the study of law reform and to bring to Washington and Lee scholars, judges, and distinguished lawyers from throughout the world to study and teach for a semester or a year.
The law library contains more than 416,300 volumes,
including microform materials, appellate records and briefs, and government documents. It maintains subscriptions to more than 1,250 journals, over 250 looseleaf reporting services, and more than 500 series of documents issued by international organizations and the U.S. government. Lexis and Westlaw terminals are provided. The stacks, carrels and reading areas are available to students and faculty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The resources of W&L's law library are impressive. Whatever you need, it's here. In addition to its holdings, the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Archives house the Supreme Court and professional papers of former Supreme Court Justice Powell, a graduate of Washington and Lee's college and law school. Computer clusters augment the wireless communication hubs throughout the building, so access to electronic databases is virtually unlimited.
Each student has an individual study carrel or office space in the law school. No searching for a quiet place to study during exam week, and no need to move books and papers when you're finished for the night. The Honor System means that your materials will be there when you get back. It's one more way W&L's unique environment frees you to do what you came here to do: get a superb legal education.
Over the last few years, the School of Law at Washington and Lee University has moved to the forefront in adopting technology that enhances the academic experience. We have made significant investments in infrastructure, technology, and talented people. Our core value is to leverage this investment and provide outstanding and individualized technology support for students, faculty, and staff.
School name:Washington & Lee UniversitySchool of Law
Zip & city:VA 24450 Virginia
Zip & city:VA 24450 Virginia
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