The Washington and Lee University School of Law seeks to cultivate broad-minded, highly skilled, and honorable practitioners of law. We do so within a diverse and collaborative intellectual community exemplifying rigor, trust, and civility.
The School of Law provides a legal education of nationally recognized excellence. Its broad and intellectually rigorous academic program actively engages students in a uniquely close-knit community committed to the highest professional values. A dedicated and highly regarded faculty of teacher-scholars prepare each student to assume an important role in the profession and actively participate in public legal discourse. Defining characteristics of the School of Law are:
- A faculty dedicated to excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service to the community.
- A student body of high academic caliber representing diverse backgrounds and possessing promise to succeed in the legal profession.
- A modern curriculum, that integrates doctrinal and experiential education while emphasizing critical thinking and writing.
- A vibrant intellectual community that promotes the values of integrity, civility, and equality.
- A strong and connected alumni body that is engaged with each other, the Law School, and its students.
The School of Law has been an integral part of the University since 1866. In that year President Robert E. Lee, who had accepted the presidency of Washington College in 1865, invited Judge John White Brockenbrough to bring to the College his Lexington Law School, which he had established in 1849, and to continue at its head as Professor of Law and Equity. Judge Brockenbrough was joined in 1870 by the distinguished John Randolph Tucker, who succeeded him in 1873 as senior Professor of Law. After serving 12 years as a member of Congress, Mr. Tucker resumed his professorship in 1887, and in 1893 became the first Dean of the Law School. Tucker Hall, which is named in his honor, was erected in 1935 to house the School of Law.
Over the years, the School outgrew this building, and a new law building, Sydney Lewis Hall, was completed and occupied in the fall of 1976. Lewis Hall contains some of the nation’s most student- and research-centered facilities for law study and legal research. The building was made possible by a gift of $9 million from Frances and Sydney Lewis of Richmond, Virginia.
In December 1989, Supreme Court of the United States Associate Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., an alumnus of both The College (1929) and the School of Law (1931), announced his intention to leave his personal and professional papers to the Washington and Lee School of Law in the care of the law library. To house this generous gift, and to keep pace with new demands for additional faculty offices and clinical space, an addition to Sydney Lewis Hall was completed in 1992. The archival facilities make available to researchers approximately 700 linear feet of Powell materials. Today, the materials are also available through the school’s Scholarly Commons. Renovations during the summers of 2014-16 added substantial natural light, a new building entrance, and a variety of communal and study areas.
The Wilbur C. Hall Law Library, which is an integral part of the School of Law building, contains over 770,000 volumes, volume equivalents, and electronic titles. The law library is far more than its physical collection, offering a comfortable environment for study and relaxation. Students and faculty can access a rich collection of Internet database resources, numerous legal and non-legal periodical indexes, a vast array of full-text journals, Congressional documents, and e-books from within the building and from off campus. The law library offers a fast and efficient interlibrary loan service. Professional law librarians are also available to assist with the research needs of all library users.
The School of Law has been a member of the Association of American Law Schools since 1920. The School also takes pride in the fact that it was one of the initial group of law schools rated as “Class A” by the Council on Legal Education of the American Bar Association in 1923.
The student body includes residents of over 40 states, a number of foreign countries, and graduates of nearly 200 different colleges and universities.
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 also an understanding of how law operates in our society and a sensitivity to the ethical imperatives of the profession. In their first year, the students receive small-group writing instruction by dedicated legal writing professionals. They are introduced to the common law structure of our legal system but also learn to operate in the modern legal environment through transnational law. In 2008, the law school introduced a bold, upper-level curriculum grounded in experiential educational opportunities offered through six live-client clinics, law-practice simulation courses, and externship opportunities with attorneys, judges, and other practicing legal professionals. These courses expose students to rigorous analytical work in practical contexts, enabling students not only to develop professional skills but also to engage in the process of professional identity formation during their law school years.
The study of law is valuable in preparing students for careers in government, politics, business, non-profit agencies, and private practice firms of any size. The members of the law faculty are deeply engaged with their students as teachers and mentors. They are available outside the classroom for consultation and advice not only in connection with students’ studies but also their future careers. The opportunity for close faculty-student and student-student relationships is one of the most valuable features of study at the School of Law.
The record of accomplishment of the School of Law is reflected in the achievements of its graduates, who have distinguished themselves in the private practice of law, as corporate counsel, in state and federal government service, and in business. They are active in volunteer organizations and many pro-bono efforts. Many serve as elected state and federal officials; others are members of the judiciary. The achievements of the law alumni reflect the high standards of professional training received in the School of Law and are, in equal or even greater measure, a reflection of that strength of character which is an attribute of Washington and Lee. Many of our alumni credit Washington and Lee with their success and actively support their alma mater and its current students.
The separate Law Catalog contains information about the School of Law, together with details concerning admission, expenses and financial aid, degree requirements, and courses of study. For the Law Catalog and other information regarding admission, write to:
Office of Admissions, School of Law
Washington and Lee University
Lexington, Virginia 24450
or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Administration of the School of Law
(as of July 1, 2020)
William Carlyle Dudley, Ph.D., President of the University
Elizabeth Goad Oliver, Ph.D., Interim Provost
Brant J. Hellwig, LL.M., Dean of the School of Law
David C. Baluarte, J.D., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the School of Law
Trenya Mason, J.D., Assistant Dean for Law Student Affairs
Elizabeth Outland Branner, M.B.A., Assistant Dean for Law School Advancement
Cliff Jarrett, J.D., Assistant Dean for Career Strategy
Jamie D. Kipfer, D.E.L., University Registrar
The Law Faculty are listed in the 2020-2021 catalog of the School of Law.