The First Year

At W&L Law, as the smallest of the nation's top law schools, with a total enrollment of around 320, we strive to create a first year experience that is 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. Our dynamic and distinguished professors are accessible and 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 and issues they encounter in their first year courses. And if they still have questions, our faculty are here to help.

It's Personal

With a 9-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 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 faculty that is consistently rated among the country's best teaching law faculty.

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 carry throughout the years at W&L. All first year courses are required, 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. View first-year course descriptions.

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 Affairs office, regular student-mentoring meetings with your Kirgis Fellow, or your classes with your Burks Scholar who helps teach you how to conduct legal research, you will receive 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.