Founded by Thomas Jefferson himself, the University of Virginia School of Law is one of the oldest law schools in the country, and has educated generations of lawyers and turned out hundreds of law firm heads, law clerks, and judges. This “unique and great place” is one of the country’s most selective law schools, and currently offers thirteen dual degrees, twenty clinics, eight international exchange programs, and ten student-run academic journals, including the prestigious Virginia Law Review. UVA is on “a very positive trajectory“ at the moment, with student quality on the rise, improved fundraising, ongoing facilities improvements, and good job placement rates.
One of the first things students are made aware of is how "pulled together" UVA feels. “Everyone I spoke with in administration, as well as the faculty, was focused on making the law school an excellent place to learn and grow as a future lawyer,” says a 2L of his first visit. There is a wide variety of classes to choose from (including a selection of short courses in January), and there are “plenty of opportunities to get practical experience through a well-developed pro bono program” and the clinics. “For example, right now I’m taking an estate planning class where I actually get to draft wills and trusts under the guidance of two leading practitioners,” says a 2L.
The focus on the student experience is “apparent throughout the entire law school,” and the faculty is “incredibly accessible,” which gives students the “unparalleled” opportunity to rub elbows with “some of the best legal scholars in the nation.” Members of the faculty have previously served in high level government positions, or are former federal prosecutors, to name a few. The school’s reputation among lawyers is “phenomenal,” and the Career Services department “gives fantastic advice, works hard to help students make connections to markets all across the U.S., and are incredibly friendly and accessible.” The staff “walk us through every step of finding and getting jobs that we are excited about.” There is a ton of engagement with the institution at UVA, “precisely because students don’t vanish into the ether once class ends for the day.” Students also have many opportunities to have “a significant influence” on the law school’s governance and policies through the Student Bar Association. The school is generally receptive of student influence in the improvement and alteration of academic policies, “which is quite empowering for students.”
Classrooms are well-equipped with the latest technology, and there are “plenty of comfortable and well-lit places to study throughout the law school.” The student services wing of the law school building was “beautifully renovated” over the summer to expand the admissions, career services, and clinic offices, and the city of Charlottesville is “amazing.” There’s “a lot to do around here for such a relatively small place,” including “great food, great music, UVA sports... [and] good hiking nearby,” and D.C. is just a couple of hours away. “I think that it is telling that 3Ls dislike talking about having to leave the law school at the end of the year, wishing that their law school careers could last longer,” says a happy student.