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Washington and Lee University School of Law

Make Each Year Count Washington and Lee University School of Law
W&L Law - make Each Year Count Video

During each of your three years at W&L Law, you will be challenged in distinct ways.  Each year of your law school career will have a defined purpose and represent an additional, essential step along your path to your future professional life.

While law schools have traditionally taught all students in the same way for all three years, at W&L Law, you will encounter a sequence of learning experiences rooted in the basic assumption that each year of law school should build upon the lessons of its predecessor but also present new and different challenges while pushing you further along the continuum from beginning law student to lawyer-to-be.

After all, law school is three years. Make each year count.

Curriculum Information

First Year Curriculum

The First Year at W&L Law Video

The first year curriculum exposes all students to foundational areas of the law upon which the second and third years will build. Each semester, all students will take one of these core courses in a small section of about twenty students where they will also receive personalized instruction in legal writing from a full-time member of the law faculty. View first year course descriptions.

Fall Semester Spring Semester
Civil Procedure American Public Law Process
Contracts Legal Writing II
Criminal Law Professional Responsibility
Legal Writing I Property
Torts Transnational Law

Second Year Curriculum

The Second Year at W&L Law Video

Along with critical required areas like Constitutional Law and Evidence, students in their second year can explore more specialized areas of the law and also choose from an array of seminars. Students often choose topics that they have an interest in practicing following law school.

Students usually fulfill their upper-level writing requirement during the second year, either through a research note developed for one of the School's four journals or a through a research paper completed in a seminar course. Seminar offerings include:

Law of Terrorism Mass Media Law
Bioethics Cyber Crimes
Comparative Health Law Law and Poverty
Gender and the Law Children, Culture and Violence
Environmental Law View all courses and descriptions.

Third Year Curriculum

In the third year, students encounter a curriculum that is entirely experiential. The course of study consists of practice-based simulations, real-client experiences, and advanced explorations into legal ethics and professionalism. The curriculum builds upon and expands the lessons of the first and second years of instruction, moving students from a passive classroom role into one more closely connected to the world of legal practice.

The third-year curriculum is not merely a year devoted to practice skills, though lawyering skills are addressed in a variety of ways. Instead, the primary focus is to develop in law students the habits of mind and judgment of legal professionals, in short, to learn and apply law the way lawyers do in the process of solving problems for their clients. Learn more about the third-year curriculum.

Skills Immersion Courses Video   Practicum Courses Video   Clinics and Externships Video


Washington and Lee advances a "liberal arts" approach to legal education, and you will be free to pursue a broad range of interests during your upper-level years. At no point during your three years at the law school will you be expected to pick a track, specialization or commit to the intensive study of only one area of the law. However, we do offer a wide array of courses in different areas of the law. Select the links below to explore your interests.

Business Law International Human Rights Civil Litigation Public Interest Law
Tax Law International Trade Criminal Law Poverty Law
Patent Law/IP Environmental Law Health Law Constitutional Law