Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the fourth-oldest law school in the country. Notable alumni include U.S. Supreme Court Justice James Clark McReynolds, U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller.
Virginia prides itself on being ranked among the highest in classroom experience, career prospects, and student quality of life Winners of Virginia’s William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition receive cash prizes and their names inscribed on a plaque outside of the school’s three moot court rooms. Virginia’s commitment to its clerkship program has resulted in graduates serving in every federal circuit in the country and places Virginia fourth in number of students obtaining U.S. Supreme Court clerkships from 2005 to 2017.
Student life centers around the Law School, located on North Grounds, about a mile from the undergrad campus and next door to the Business School. Students also spend significant time in Charlottesville, “an energetic and cosmopolitan small city [of about 49,000] that retains all the ease and grace of traditional Virginia hospitality.”
“C’ville” averages 219 days of sunshine a year, with the Blue Ridge Mountains resting 30 minutes to the west and Washington, D.C. two hours to the north. Virginia also hosts the perennial Law School Softball Invitational, inviting law school teams from around the country to the national softball tournament.
Each entering class at Virginia is approximately 320 students. First-year students are automatically enrolled in a foundational curriculum. Two of the required courses in the first and second semesters are “small-section” classes consisting of 30 students. In the spring, first-year students are able to choose two electives in addition to the required courses.
For upper-class students, students can choose from a range of options, including intensive short courses taught by real-world practitioners, seminars and advanced theory courses focused on developing skills in writing legal scholarship, and practical hands-on courses like clinics, trial advocacy and public speaking. Virginia offers 8 international exchange programs (Auckland, Bucerius, Instituto de Empresa, Melbourne, Seoul, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Waseda), most of which can be enrolled in during the fall semester of a student’s third year. A separate student-initiated study abroad program allows students to spend one semester away from the Law School by studying law at a foreign university or law department. The Externships Program enables students to spend one semester within the U.S. or abroad in a supervised setting which combines academic legal research and work experience.
Virginia also offers several dual-degree options in conjunction with other graduate divisions of the University, including a J.D.-M.P.P, J.D.-M.U.E.P., J.D.-M.P.H., and several J.D./M.A. options. The External Collaborative Program enables students to study public international law at Johns Hopkins University, Tufts University, or Princeton University, in addition to obtaining their J.D.
Virginia Law School does not rank students.
Clinical and Experiential Learning
Virginia offers 19 clinics to its upper-class students, including Supreme Court Litigation, Patent and Licensing, the Innocence Project, Immigration Law, International Human Rights, and Environmental and Regulatory Law. Only students with a third-year practice certification are able to practice courtroom advocacy.
Virginia’s Externships Program provides for-credit work opportunities in government and at nonprofits in areas such as Washington, D.C.
Many non-clinic courses incorporate current practitioners and emphasize hands-on skills. Courses specific to trial advocacy, public speaking and legal writing train students to be competent advocates both on their feet and in writing briefs. Moreover, classes in professional ethics often use innovative methods, such as role play, to help students figure out how they might react in difficult situations.
Class Size: 319
Average Age: 24
Students of color: 24%
Median LSAT: 169
Median GPA: 3.87
- Law Firms: 63.8%
- Judicial Clerkships: 19.4%
- Business & Industry: 3.7%
- Government/Public Interest: 12.4%
- Education: 0.7%
- Northeast/Mid-Atlantic: 27.9%
- Central: 5.7%
- South Atlantic/Central: 54.3%
- Mountain/Pacific: 10.5%
- U.S. Territories/Foreign: 1.6%