Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second oldest continuously operating law school in the country. Notable alumni include former Supreme Court Justice James Clark McReynolds, former US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and former FBI director Robert Mueller.
UVA Law prides itself on being ranked among the highest in classroom experience, career prospects, and student quality of life. The school’s commitment to its clerkship program has resulted in graduates serving in every federal circuit in the country, as well as UVA Law’s fifth place ranking for the number of students obtaining US Supreme Court clerkships between 2005 and 2021.
Student life centers on the school’s Charlottesville-based campus, which is located on North Grounds, about a mile from the undergrad campus and next door to the university’s business school. In addition, students spend a significant amount of time in Charlottesville, a small but lively city that is also home to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. “C’ville” averages 219 days of sunshine a year, with the Blue Ridge Mountains resting 30 minutes to the west and Washington, DC, two hours to the north. UVA Law hosts the annual Law School Softball Invitational, which draws teams from law schools across the country.
On-campus housing for graduate students is limited, so most law school students live off campus.
Each entering class at UVA Law comprises approximately 300 students. First-year students are automatically enrolled in a foundational curriculum, with two of the required courses in the first and second semesters consisting of approximately 35 students. In the spring, first-year students can take two electives in addition to their required courses. Upper-class students can choose from a range of course options, including practitioner-led intensive short courses, seminars and advanced theory courses, and courses that provide hands-on experience such as clinics and trial advocacy seminars.
UVA Law offers ten international exchange programs to seven countries (New Zealand, Germany, Israel, Spain, Australia, South Korea, Japan), and students typically enroll during the fall semester of their third year. A separate student-initiated study abroad program allows students to spend one semester studying law at a foreign university or law department.
For those interested in earning a dual degree, UVA Law offers several options in conjunction with the university’s other graduate divisions, including a JD/Master of Public Policy, JD/Master of Urban and Environmental Planning, JD/Master of Public Health, and several JD/Master of Arts options. Through its External Collaborative Program, the school also enables students to study international relations at Johns Hopkins University, law and diplomacy at Tufts University, or public affairs at Princeton University, in addition to obtaining their JD.
UVA Law does not use or disclose its students’ rankings except when necessary, such as when determining academic awards.
Clinical and Experiential Learning
UVA Law’s 22 clinics are open to its upper-class students and include Supreme Court Litigation, Patent and Licensing, the Innocence Project, Immigration Law, International Human Rights, and Environmental Law and Community Engagement. Only students with a third-year practice certification can practice courtroom advocacy.
The Externships Program at UVA Law provides for-credit work opportunities in government and at nonprofits in Washington, DC, or other areas within the United States as well as internationally. Students spend one semester in a supervised setting where they both conduct academic legal research and gain work experience.
Many non-clinic courses feature 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-playing, to help students figure out how they might react in difficult situations.
Class Profile (Class of 2024)
Number of Applications: 7,080
Class Size: 300
Average Age: 24
Students of Color: 36%
Median LSAT: 171
Median GPA: 3.91
Career Placement (Class of 2020)
- Law Firms: 69.5%
- Judicial Clerkships: 20.3%
- Public Interest: 4.8%
- Government: 4.2%
- Business and Industry: 1.3%