Your 1L Year
W&L Law is one of the smallest of the nation's top law schools, with a targeted incoming class size for the Class of 2013 of 134 and a current total enrollment of 410. Our small size means your first year experience will be not only challenging, demanding and stimulating but also personal, collegial and humane. We work hard to create a friendly and supportive environment in which students are free to pursue their intellectual curiosities and questions in and out of the classroom. Learning at W&L is very much a collaborative experience. The cutthroat competition so often associated with law school is simply not a part of life at our law school. Students work together as they grapple with the challenging legal problems they encounter in their first-year courses. And if they still have questions, our faculty are here to help.
With a 9.52-to-1 student to faculty ratio, there is no arm's-length teaching at W&L. During your first year, your largest class will be approximately sixty students, and you will have a small section of twenty students in which you learn a substantive area of the law as well as legal writing from a full-time professor. You will be expected to do a lot of writing and a lot of rewriting even in the first year, but not without feedback from a member of our faculty, consistently rated among the country's best law teaching faculty. Furthermore, there are no office hours at Washington and Lee. Rather, our faculty have an "open-door" policy. If your professor is in his office, he has time for you.
The Foundation of Your Future Years
What courses will you take? Everyone takes the same first-year courses, creating a shared intellectual experience and a true sense of collaboration that will resonate throughout your time at W&L. All first year courses are required and your course load is designed to give you a broad perspective of legal issues: American Public Law Process, Civil Procedure, Professional Responsibility, Criminal Law, Contracts, Property, Torts and Transnational Law.
A Community Experience
There are many people, in addition to your classmates and professors, who will shape your first-year at Washington and Lee. Whether it's the academic success series provided by our Student Services office, regular meetings with your Kirgis Fellow, or your classes with your Burks Scholar in which you learn how to conduct legal research, you will received an unparalleled level of support as you transition from your life before legal study into law school. When you enroll at Washington and Lee, you are joining a community defined by character, integrity and collegiality, and you will begin to feel a connection to your classmates and the institution from your very first moments on campus.
With over 40 student organizations and an active student body, W&L Law is a school where students feel a real connection to the life of the school. Two great examples of the active and institutionalized role upper-level students will play in shaping your curricular and extracurricular experience at W&L Law are the Burks Scholars and Kirgis Fellows.
While you will learn how to write like a lawyer from a full-time, tenure-track professor, you will learn how to conduct legal research and cite the work you do (or Bluebook, as it is known) from an upper-level student. Burks Scholars are third-year students who are chosen to act as teaching assistants working with faculty in small sections of first-year courses emphasizing writing and research skills. They are chosen on the basis of scholastic achievement, writing ability, skill in advocacy and teaching aptitude.
Kirgis Fellows are second- and third-year law students who serve as formal mentors to first-year students. A Kirgis Fellow is assigned to each small section, and works closely with those students on a variety of issues ranging from law school life and University services to extracurricular options and study skills. They are managed by our Student Services office, and they are a tremendous resource for students adjusting to life in law school. And if you ever have questions about Lexington, Washington and Lee, how to study or even how to deal with exam stress (and you most likely will), your Kirgis Fellow will be there to help.
Continue to your 2L year at W&L Law...