Law Schools, U.S. News

Washington & Lee Tries To Calm Fears Of Entering Students


Dear Class of 2017:

Washington and Lee University School of Law (W&L Law) attracts a student body that is confident in its identity. That identity appreciates honor and integrity, close personal relationships and collegiality, and a commitment to the highest standards of the legal profession. W&L Law has always provided its students with a very unique law school experience in a community they can call their own.

Since the U.S. News & World Report rankings of law schools were first released in 1987 until last year, W&L Law has had an average ranking of 23rd nationally, ranging from a high of 18 to a low of 34. The most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings have placed W&L Law far below our historic national average ranking. Although the rankings cannot capture the full measure of our or any other law school, we recognize that they are an important market force.

And yet, all of the qualities that make W&L Law a wonderful law school—for example, the welcoming learning environment that comes with our small class size—remain the same. As rankings may fluctuate from year-to-year, W&L will continue to offer a legal education that is innovative and personalized. The small student to faculty ratio supports small class sizes, as well as independent study opportunities, tutorials, seminars, and small practicum courses and facilitates direct dialogue and one-on-one meetings between the faculty and students.

Finally, many different pieces of data make up a school’s ranking. Some of these data points are based on our performance in years past, as there is a lag time before such data appears in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. This is particularly true for employment and bar passage data. Some of the data points may, therefore, not fully reflect the current situation. Over the last year and a half, we have taken steps to offer new initiatives and programs not available to prior graduating classes. These efforts include stronger bar preparation support, externship and interview programs in Washington, D.C., a more robust post-graduate fellowship program, changes in our approach to the employment market, and new leadership in our career planning office.

Washington and Lee University School of Law is committed to maintaining an institution of the highest quality, an institution of great history and innovation. We look forward to you joining our family in the fall.


Shawn D. McShay
Assistant Dean of Admissions

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