Third year students are competitively selected to assist attorneys representing defendants at the pretrial and trial stages of state and federal death penalty cases throughout Virginia, and to research, write and update a web-accessible array of legal pleadings, memoranda, jury instructions and practice manuals for use by defense counsel in Virginia capital cases. All participants also assist the Clearinghouse director in planning and presenting VC3's annual continuing legal education seminar, "Defending a Capital Case in Virginia."
Students enrolled in this course are assigned to one of the following components. Each component offers a different supervised clinical experience.Black Lung Program
Second and third year students provide legal assistance to coal miners and their dependents who seek federal benefits for pneumoconiosis. Students screen potential cases for the clinic; assist attorneys in representing claimants in pre-trial motions and depositions; assist in developing medical evidence; participate in federal administrative hearings by making opening statements and calling witnesses; prepare post-hearing briefs; and handle appeals to the Benefits Review Board and the Fourth Circuit.
Community Legal Practice Center
Students provide assistance on a full range of legal issues facing the elderly and victims of domestic violence. Students' work representing elderly clients includes simple wills, incompetency and medicaid planning, guardianship/conservatorship, public benefits problems, housing issues, age discrimination concerns and consumer protection issues. The Center's domestic violence clients present opportunities for students to obtain protective orders, negotiate divorce, child and spousal support claims and assist with housing and consumer protection issues.
W&L Law has launched a new legal clinic focusing on misdemeanor criminal defense. Law students working in the Criminal Justice Clinic will represent in district and circuit court indigent clients facing criminal charges including assault, driving while intoxicated, shoplifting, and marijuana possession.
Through the Clinic, selected law students provide free legal representation to low-income taxpayers who have post-filing controversies with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Such disputes might include audit representation, appeals, non-filers, collection issues, innocent spouse relief, and representation before the U.S. Tax Court. In addition to this free legal representation, the students also engage in educational outreach to taxpayers with limited English proficiency, or who speak English as a second language (ESL), about their rights and responsibilities as U.S. taxpayers.
In addition to the on-campus clinical programs, students may pursue individual external placements for course credit. These placements, or externships, allow students to integrate substantive and procedural learning with practical experience. Students reflect on their roles as novice lawyers with feedback from supervising attorneys in their placements and in seminar meetings with other externship students. Students work with federal and state agencies, public interest service providers and organizations, general counsel and even with some private practitioners.
This program focuses on resolving legal disputes related to immigration and naturalization. Students working in the program, which is part of the School's general externship program and third-year curriculum, will represent individuals before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice in order to obtain immigration benefits such as permanent residence, citizenship, asylum, and relief from deportation.
Two students are selected to clerk for Virginia Supreme Court Justices in Salem, Virginia. Nine students are chosen each year as clerks for Circuit Court (trial) judges in Covington, Lexington, Roanoke, Salem, and Staunton, Virginia. One student is selected as a clerk for a United States Bankruptcy Court Judge. The clerks receive four hours graded academic credit for these positions which require research and writing as well as courtroom and in chambers observation.
Public Prosecutors Program
Third year practice qualified students work with attorneys in the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia and Commonwealth Attorney offices throughout the region. Work assignments involve all aspects of criminal case preparation including drafting of indictments, interviewing witnesses, conducting sentencing hearings, assisting in plea bargaining, and researching and drafting responses to motions. Most students participate in criminal prosecutions under the Virginia Third Year Practice Rule in United States Magistrate Court and United States District Court or in state General District and Circuit Courts. Occasionally, students appear in appellate actions. Students in the United States Attorney program also conduct civil litigation.
The Washington and Lee Law Review is a scholarly publication of the Washington and Lee Law School and is managed and published by students to provide a medium for discussion of important legal problems. The Law Review each year publishes four issues that include lead articles by practicing attorneys and legal academicians, and notes by students who have demonstrated superior capacity for effective legal writing.
The staff of the Law Review is made up of second- and third-year law students. Second-year students are chosen as a result of their participation in the annual "write-on" competition that is held at the end of their first year. The write-on is a rigorous competition and selection process. The application process begins with a series of short meetings to familiarize applicants with the Law Review and its writing and citation styles. No positions are awarded to students based solely on grades.
All first year students who wish to be considered for the Law Review will participate in the writing competition. The competition requires each student to write a paper outlining their solution to a complex problem. The Law Review provides the problem along with all supporting cases and other sources that the student is permitted to consult. The submissions are anonymous and are graded by the Law Review's editorial board.
Twenty-nine students receive an invitation to join the Law Review. The authors of the top six write-on submissions receive automatic invitations to join the Law Review. Twenty staffwriters are chosen by combining their writing scores and their first-year grades, with fall semester grades, spring semester grades, and the write-on score each comprising one-third of the total score. The remaining three staffwriters are chosen based on a combination of three factors: (1) first-year grades, (2) performance on the write-on, and (3) a personal statement.
The Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice is a scholarly research and reference publication. The journal publishes articles and Notes that focus on the intersection of race and ethnicity with gender, sexuality, religion, class, and age and disability discrimination. In addition, the CRSJ Journal concentrates on legal realities and reports on developments in both statutory and case law in an effort to monitor their impacts on minority communities. Staff members for the CRSJ Journal are selected through a competitive writing process. Students may participate as Case Note or Note writers.
Journal of Energy, Climate, and the Environment
The Washington and Lee School of Law Journal of Energy, Climate, and the Environment (Journal) is a student-edited periodical published by student volunteers at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, whose members comprise the JECE. The Journal includes articles, notes, case summaries, and legislative summaries from professors, practitioners, and students focused primarily on the areas of law surrounding energy and the climate, including, but not limited to, energy generation, energy usage, and climate impacts. JECE publishes the Journal solely in an online format.
German Law Journal
The German Law Journal is an online journal that publishes commentary and scholarship in the fields of German, European and international law. Its English-language treatment of comparative and international law attracts more than two million site visits from more than 50 countries each year. W&L students have the opportunity to write book reviews, case comments, short articles, and, following instructional learning, assist in discussing and assessing submissions for the Journal.
The Moot Court Executive Board administers the Moot Court Program. The nine members of this board are selected on the basis of demonstrated ability in brief writing, oral advocacy, and administration. The Program consists of the following activities open to second and third year students:
Client Counseling Competition
Teams of two interview and counsel a client with a legal problem. Competitors are judged on their ability to establish and maintain an effective rapport with the client, to discover relevant facts, to analyze substantive legal issues and to understand legal ethics. Finalists represent W&L Law in regional and national trial competitions, including the American Bar Association's national competition.
John W. Davis Moot Court Competition
The Davis Competition provides interested students the opportunity to sharpen their brief writing and oral advocacy skills. Participants individually write a brief on an issue of constitutional law and then perform at least two oral arguments. Arguments by competition finalists are presented to a bench of distinguished judges. Students who place at the top in this competition go on to represent W&L Law in several competitions around the country.
Mock Trial Competition
Participants, in teams of two, try an entire case and argue pre-trial motions through closing statements. The competition is judged by a distinguished Judge. Those competing develop and demonstrate their courtroom skills in the areas of trial advocacy, evidence and procedure. Finalists represent W&L Law in regional and national trial competitions.
Participants in this intra-school competition receive a hypothetical factual situation. Teams of two act as attorneys representing their client's interests and meet with an opposing counsel team to negotiate a resolution to the fact scenario. Competitors are judged on their handling of legal and factual issues, their ability to work with opposing counsel in structuring settlements, and their recognition of ethical responsibilities. The law school annually sends the competition finalists to compete in the American Bar Association's national competition.
Teams of two represent a client in a hypothetical scenario requiring mediation. A neutral party acts as the mediator. Competitors are judged on the ability to interact with opposing counsel and the mediator, legal analysis and arguments, and the ability to advocate for the client's best interests. Four students are chosen from the intra-school competition to represent W&L Law at the regional and national competitions.
Burks Scholars are chosen for their superior academic achievements, their demonstrated ability in legal research, writing, and oral advocacy, and their potential for effective teaching. They are teaching assistants in selected first year courses. Each Burks Scholar assists in teaching legal analysis, research, writing, and advocacy to approximately twenty first year students under the supervision of a faculty member.
The Kirgis Fellows function as peer mentors, advisors, and counselors for first year students.
The Fellows work in concert with the Burks Scholars as a resource for their small group of students. The entire group of Fellows sponsors programming on thriving in law school, and draw on University resources for speakers. The Fellows also meet three to four times during the semester with the Associate Dean for Student Services to provide feedback and suggestions related to the needs of the first year students, and to serve as a focus group to discuss ideas about improving our student support. Fellows complete approximately 15 hours of training.
The Fellows are an integral part of First-Year Orientation, meeting with their small section several times during Orientation and providing information on everything from buying books to how to brief a case.