Second and Third Year
Just as the first year lays the foundation upon which the remainder of your legal education will build, the second year and third year at Washington and Lee require students to engage in an even more advanced and challenging course of legal study and identify and pursue their own interests in particular areas of the law.
Washington and Lee is very much a "liberal arts" approach to legal education and at no point during your three years at the law school will be expected to pick a track, specialization or commit to the intensive study of only one area of the law. However, our upper level offerings are extensive and comprehensive, allowing students to tailor a curriculum best suited to their career objectives.
The Next Step
There are just two courses you must complete during your second year of study at W&L Law: Constitutional Law and Evidence. The remainder of the second year is comprised of electives, at least one that requires research and writing along with the completion of a substantive research paper. The range of courses and special research seminars open to second-year students is considered remarkable for a law school the size of W&L. View upper-level course descriptions.
Experience Starts Now
In addition to delving deeply into specific subject areas, students also begin taking classes in our innovative experiential curriculum during the second year. Blending traditional classes with practice-based offerings like practicum classes, legal clinics and externships allows students to create unique opportunities to learn in context, speeding the transition from law student to legal professional. As your education progresses, you will continue to learn the law, but increasingly you will do so as lawyers do, in the process of solving problems for clients.
Students are required to take 18 experiential credits over two years, including representing real clients in an actual practice setting. By spreading this requirement over two years, you will have tremendous flexibility in course selection and scheduling. There will always be room in your schedule to take a legal seminar that interests you or a key class to make you more attractive to employers or help you get ready for the bar exam. Learn more about our experiential offerings.
While most of our students do not work outside of law school during the school year, they are extremely busy. During your second year, you may choose to join one of our four journals, participate in one of five internal Moot Court competitions open to second- and third-year students, or even hold a leadership position in one of our over forty student organizations.
Many other students choose to get involved with the administration of Washington and Lee's nearly 150-year-old Honor System as Honor Advocates or Executive Committee members. The Honor System is student-run and Honor Advocates play an integral part in the adjudication process. Specifically, they assist students accused of an honor or conduct violation in preparing and presenting their cases to the Executive Committee, Student-Faculty Hearing Board or the Student Judicial Council. They also provide information to accused individuals about additional on-campus resources available to accused students.
At W&L, involvement is the expectation not the exception. You will know your classmates and they will know you. Both inside and outside the classroom, you will have a multitude of opportunities to cultivate the interpersonal skills essential for the effective practice of law. You will be invested in the academic and extracurricular life of the law school, and you will help shape and inform its distinctive culture. If you are looking to make an impact, Washington and Lee is a school where you can certainly do so.