2024-2025 University Catalog 
    Jul 25, 2024  
2024-2025 University Catalog

The School of Law



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 prepares 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 and equality.
  • A strong and connected alumni body that is engaged with each other, the Law School, and its students.

Historical Background

The School of Law has been an integral part of the University since 1866. John Randolph Tucker 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 Tucker Hall, 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. Frequent renovations over the years have kept the spaces responsive to curricular and pedagogical innovations and expanded faculty. Renovations have added substantial natural light, a new building entrance, and a variety of communal and study areas.

In December 1989, U.S. Supreme Court 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 Washington and Lee University 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.

The Wilbur C. Hall Law Library maintains an extensive collection of more than 400,000 digital and print titles related to law.  It provides an array of services in support of the education and scholarship of our students, faculty, and patrons. Dedicated to provide anytime/anywhere information, it provides information support of the highest quality to our students, faculty, members of the university community and other patrons. The Law Library provides a variety of study spaces including individual carrels, reading rooms, study rooms and areas for collaborative work.  The spaces include specifically designated quite zones for individual study.  

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.

Innovative Curriculum

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. All of the classes, including 1L sections of doctrinal courses, are small - usually around 40 students - to facilitate optimal learning.

Faculty Interaction

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.

Alumni Base

The Law School’s record of accomplishment 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 and other public 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 preparation 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 through philanthropy and service to the institution.

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, contact:

Washington and Lee University School of Law
Office of Admissions
Lexington, Virginia 24450
or by e-mail: lawadm@wlu.edu 

Administration of the School of Law

(as of July 1, 2024)

William Carlyle Dudley, Ph.D., President of the University
Lena M. Hill, Ph.D., Provost
Melanie D. Wilson, J.D., Dean of the School of Law
Freda Coleman-Jackson, J.D. M.Ed., Assistant Dean for Career Strategy
Michelle Cosby, J.D., M.L.S., Assistant Dean of Legal Information Services and Professor of Practice
Michelle Lyon Drumbl, J.D., LL.M., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the School of Law
Sarah Hughes, M.Ed., , Assistant Dean for Law School Advancement
Peter Jetton, M.A., Assistant Dean of Communications and Marketing Strategy
Lisa E. Rodocker, M.A., Assistant Dean of Law Admissions
Maria Saez Tatman, J.D., M.S.W., Associate Dean of Law Student Affairs, Community and Belonging

The Law Faculty are listed in the 2024-2025 catalog of the School of Law.