Washington & Lee Law School

Since I took the LSAT a couple months ago, I’ve been getting all kinds of email from law schools… most of them I know a little about, but I’ve never heard of Washington & Lee. Their website is astoundingly uninformative, so I’m wondering… did any of you go (or do any of you go) there? Where is it? Is the law school any good?

Washington and Lee University used to be Washington College, but the “Lee” part was added after Robert E. Lee served as President of the school after the Civil War.

The University is located in Lexington, VA, a beautiful part of the state. It is a private university, and has a very, very good reputation. IIRC, Justice Powell graduated froom W&L law school, which also enjoys a very good reputation.

I went to undergrad at W&L. Excellent school. plnnr is correct about Justice Powell, we is an alum.

I see you live in Florida. I was a Yankee who went down South and had some trouble fitting in. The other students tend to be of a conservative bent, and quite homogeneous. The undergrad has a reputation as a party school, but is also ranked in the top 20 academically. Social life is very greek oriented.

This is not all true with the Law School, which is a bit seperate from the College. The students don’t mix much between the Law School and the College. The Law School is the only graduate level school they have. The town has its bohemian characters, like any college town, but its a bit odd having R.E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson buried in town.

Another note, there are 5 womens’ colleges within an hour of campus. Ergo, the campus gets flooded with girls on the weekends.

The law school is also ranked among the top 20 nationwide, and I believe the tuition is relatively inexpensive compared to other top-ranked private schools.

Thanks guys… I was a bit worried about the Lee part- didn’t know exactly how Southern it would be…

Hollins girls…grrrrrrrrrwwwwwwwwwllllllll. Of course, they have to get back early on Sunday so they don’nt miss Country Club Etiquette 101 on Monday afternoon. Monday morning is spent getting facials, pedicures, etc.

The “Dubyanel” campus is very attractive and Lexington is truly a nice little town in the mountains full of historic houses and buildings and a few decent bars and music stores etc. It’s right down the street from the Virginia Military Institute, and Robert E. Lee and his entire family are interred in the basement of the W&L campus chapel. His horse Traveller is buried right outside. Yes it is very Southern but in a genteel horse-country way, not a “NASCAR stereotype” way.

I had family that lived there for years and still have some rellies there. Tons of hot babes in Lexington for sure! Stay away from my cousin!

You should post a picture, RTA, so that dutchboy knows to stay away from her.


I’m a 3rd year law student in an excellent regional law school (but not nationally well-known) and rank in the top 3% of my class. However, I still am having a tough time securing an employer. Therefore, my advice to you would be to go to the best possible law school in which you are admitted. It will make a difference.

You’re not going to believe this, but I was just there this weekend, and spent the night in Stonewall Jackson’s bedroom on campus.

According to the Dean of Students, with whom I had a very relevant conversation, W&L Law draws applications from the same students who apply and are accepted to UVA, Duke, and Georgetown law programs. However, I notice that it ranks slightly below those schools in the U.S. News rankings, tied for #19. There’s a term for getting the same applications, something like cross-competing, or something like that. I suspect that part of the reason for it is regional.

I had a great time looking over the joint and learning about it. Here’s some of what I remember.

The place was established just prior to the Revolutionary War as Augusta Academy (I think), then during the war it was renamed Liberty Hall. George Washington granted the college what was then the largest endowment ever given to an educational facility in North America, and so the school renamed itself Washington Academy, then Washington College. In the late 1700s the first African-American to graduate from an American college came from Liberty Hall. He was an interesting fellow named John Chavis.

In the late 1840s Thomas J. Jackson began teaching at VMI next door. He met and married the daughter of the President of Washington College, a fellow named Junkin. An addition was built on to the President’s home and Jackson and his wife lived there for some time. She died during childbirth and Jackson moved up the street.

Then, after the Civil War, Washingon College invited Robert E. Lee to be President, which he accepted. It appears to be a fairly natural decision because R.E. Lee was a the son of Lighthorse Harry Lee, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and he was married to Mary Randolph Custis, a descendant of one of George Washington’s stepchildren, and of course his own home in Northern Virginia was now Arlington Cemetery. (No doubt the adjacent Virginia Military Institute was also an attraction for Lee, a former Superintendent of West Point.)

Lee therefore moved into the President’s home–the same house in which Stonewall Jackson resided. For some reason, the Lee-Jackson home is not part of the regular W&L tours, but it’s easy enough to go see, as it’s right next to the Lee home. Facing the house, Jackson’s addition is on the right side. (If you happen to see a shaggy black dog with a bum hind leg lying around there, give him a scratch behind the ears for me. His name is Buddy.)

A new house was built next door and Lee eventually moved into that place in about 1869 and died there (I think) in 1870. It remains the President’s home today. One interesting thing about that place is that Traveller’s stable is now the President’s garage. Tradition dictates that the stable doors be left open at all times, in case Traveller ever decides to return.

After Lee’s death the college was renamed Washington & Lee University.

The student center is an amazing piece of work, and the school has a UVA-style honor code which is strictly enforced. There are work centers where students can set up their study documents and computers and leave them unattended without fear of having their stuff ripped off. The University has at least two newspapers, a nice recreation center, and a first-class job resources center with private interview rooms. They have an excellent lecturer program, but I can’t remember who has been there lately. The Washington & Lee Law Review is a well-respected publication of the School of Law.

Now there’s the rub… I got a 162 on the LSAT the first time around (and that was on minimal sleep because I was working 2 jobs at the time… I’m expecting at least a 167 or so this time). Unfortunately, my GPA is horrible, at least by law school admissions standards- hovering around a 2.7 right now, thanks to spending the first two years of college pretty much permanently intoxicated.

Thus, the best possible law school I’m admitted to will probably be the only one, too. Washington & Lee, for example, looks to be pretty much a no-go now that I’ve looked at their lower end admission statistics on LSAC.org.

Yeah. That 2.7 is going to hurt your chances at the better school. If you had a particular difficultly during your undergrad and that affected your grades (i.e. family member died and therefore 1 or 2 shitty semesters) but the rest of was ok, be sure to talk about that. When I first went to college I fucked around and was pulling 2.8s and 2.9s without even trying. When I got serious I was pulling about a 3.7 average. Because my grades were on an upswing, the admissions’ offices considered that. In other words, if you think you have a compelling reason why your cumulataive undergrad GPA is not indicative of the type of student you are, be sure to explain why in your personal statements.

Since you’re on the borderline (a good LSAT score but low undergrad GPA), I would apply to many law schools. First tier law schools are not likely not admit you, but be sure to apply to a lot of 2nd tier schools and then choose a few 3rd tier schools as back-ups. Remember, even if you don’t get into the school of your dreams, you can always try to transfer to a better school after your first year (if your grades are good enough).

Start applying as soon as possible. Most schools are on a rolling admissions basis and are more likely to give someone a chance when there are still plenty of seats open rather than when there are only a few left.

Finally, if you have any connections, use them. I got into my law school because I had worked for a guy who used to be a former professor there and he basically picked up the phone and got me in. I’m not kidding, he called up the Dean of Admissions and told him that he wanted to get me in - and he said Ok.

Good luck.

Let me add this advice: go to school in the area you want to work. It is much easier to make connections with alumni, interview with firms on campus, and learn about the legal market in the city you go to school in. There are only a handful of schools that this doesn’t apply to, and with a 2.7 you’re not going to be going to those schools.

I’m a 3rd year, and feel I would have been better off going to a slightly lower ranked school in the city I want to settle in, but instead, I went to a higher ranked school elsewhere. I know much more about the legal community, and know many more alumni, in the city where I go to school than in the city where I live. Plus, travelling to interviews gets expensive.

I second the advice to apply to a lot of schools, as well. It’s really a craps shoot. I got scholarship offers from schools I didn’t think I’d get into, and got waitlisted at “safety” schools. Every school has their own criteria, and this really plays out if you have split numbers. If you’re in doubt whether it’s worth it to apply because you don’t think you have a chance, just do it. You never know.

Law student here also -
re W&L - I have one older friend, I think he is a '98, who went to W&L, clerked for a fed judge (can’t remmeber if it was Cir or Dist.)got a great job at BIGLAW in Chicago and recently chose to enter gov’t work. One thing that annoyed him was people constantly thought he went to William & Mary. I think he was in the top 5 in his class, so his experience may not be representative.

Re law school generally - I go to a top 25 school, my undergrad GPA was, wait for it, a 2.47. Way too much fun was had by RR. My LSAT was in the 95% range though. I stayed out and worked for a couple years, and then applied to L. School. Even though your grades aren’t great, throw some apps to the better schools. But, like someone said, don’t get wrapped up in numbers, it may be better to go to a lower ranked school in the market you want to work in. It also helps to have an idea about what you want to do with your degree, i.e. if you want BIGLAW you need to try to go to the best school you can, whereas if you want to do public interest other factors, like debt, may be more important. Transfer is also an option after the first year. I know some people who have transferred from 3rd tier schools to University of Chicago, for example. Where ever you go, GET THE BEST GRADES YOU CAN FIRST YEAR. Seriously, you cannot overestimate the importance of those grades. Being on law review helps too. Good luck!

W&L’s law library is open 24 hours a day. I got a free application from them, but never applied. They have a really good reputation, especially in the southeast.

By the way, where did you get your undergrad degree from? The reputation of your school can have an effect, but a 2.7 is hard to overcome. I think for the most part schools look at these things in this order (I am sure I am forgetting things and you can flip 1 &2):

  1. LSAT
  2. GPA
  3. Work experience/post grad work
  4. Personal Statement
  5. Undergrad School
  6. Recommendations
  7. Goals

Understatement of the year. If you want to do certain things after law school you almost have to be on law review.

Or so I know what to look for :wink:

Hey, better a doper than anyone else, right?

If you don’t think your 2.7 is going to get you into the places you want to go, you might consider grad school first. If you can get better grades in graduate school, law schools will consider that an indication of your ability to do graduate-level work and that will take some weight away from your undergrad GPA. Talk to professors in your department, you may even be able to work as a TA and get your grad degree paid for…

What do you suggest I do at grad school?

My BA will be in political science, with an international relations/comparative politics emphasis.

When I actually go to law school, I’d like to specialize in international law.