Preliminary Education The study of law requires the constant application of a disciplined mind. Therefore, those courses are best suited to prelaw study that, either in content or method of instruction, are best adapted to inculcating habits of disciplined thought. Furthermore, the scope of law is so broad that no single field of study can be peremptorily excluded. Subjects such as economics and political science are customarily recommended, but to recommend these subjects is not to suggest that other courses, such as history, mathematics, English and American literature, philosophy, the natural sciences, psychology, Latin, and modern languages are not of equal value. A lawyer is constantly engaged in communicating ideas, and to that end, emphasis on the capacity to write clearly is properly stressed. Courses in English composition are therefore recommended. Courses in accounting and public speaking are often recommended. It should be noted, however, that the School of Law offers the opportunity for pursuing these courses as related to law, so they are not specifically recommended in preference to broader and more culturally oriented courses.
Profile of the 2002 Entering Class The 350 students who entered the first year of law study at the University of Virginia in August 2002 were selected from a total of 4,417. Of the entering students, 198 came from 35 different states, the District of Columbia, and foreign countries (Austria, China, Germany, Japan, The Marshall Islands, Morocco, Sweden, and Turkey). The remaining members were from Virginia. This class also included 148 women students, and of the 292 students who identified their ethnicity, 51 were minorities.
Although widely differing approaches to college grading often serve to render comparative statements about undergraduate records misleading, it is significant that most students in this fall’s entering class ranked in the upper 20 percent of their graduating classes. The median grade point average was 3.65 on a 4.0 scale. (This computation does not include several students whose grades could not be accurately interpolated to a 4.0 scale.) The median LSAT score was 166. Many of these students had also completed advanced degree work. The average age was 24.
The Law School has continued its policy of giving preferred status to Virginia applicants, and a large number of highly qualified non-Virginians must be turned away for lack of space. A total of 784 Virginia residents applied for admission, compared with 3,633 out-of-state applicants.
Candidates for the degree of Juris Doctor must have attained the age of 18 years (counting to the nearest birthday) before entering the School of Law; they must produce a certificate of good character from each school or college attended, or from another satisfactory source; and they must conform to the general requirements set forth below. The Law School does not offer a summer session.
Applicants should inform themselves of the character and other qualifications for admission to the Bar of the state in which they intend to practice.
Academic Requirements Each candidate must present evidence that he or she is a graduate of an accredited college.
Candidates for admission who have not completed the required entrance credits will not be admitted with the privilege of making up the deficiency.
Applications for Admission Applications for admission must be submitted on forms obtained from the Admissions Office. Students are accepted only for the fall semester starting in late August of each year.
Applications may be filed after the completion of six semesters (or the equivalent) of undergraduate work. Application volume has been around 4,400 in recent years; applicants should therefore file and complete their applications as soon as possible in order to allow the Admissions Office sufficient time to process them efficiently. Because of the problems encountered with processing the large volume of applications, the Committee on Admissions established January 15 as the deadline for receipt of applications for admission. All required materials, in addition to the application form itself, should be received at the Admissions Office prior to that date. The Committee on Admissions may, at its discretion, accept or reject applications received after that date. Whenever possible, we suggest that the application be filed and completed by January 1.
All applicants will be notified, upon acceptance, that they will be required to pay a deposit to secure a place in the entering class. This deposit will be credited toward tuition.
Standards for Admission In recent years, the admission process at the University of Virginia School of Law has been rigorously selective. Spatial restrictions have necessitated the denial of admission to hundreds of applicants who would otherwise have been routinely accepted.
The Committee on Admissions believes that an absolute standard based solely on a combination of LSAT score and undergraduate grade point average (GPA) is neither the most equitable nor the most effective way to select an entering class. Consequently, the committee considers a broad array of elements in addition to the essential factors of LSAT and GPA. The committee’s purpose is to assemble a diverse student body while arriving at a fair appraisal of each applicant based on many factors, both subjective and objective, quantitative and qualitative.
This broad array of data used in determining admissions decisions makes it difficult to predict what action may be taken on an individual application. The LSAT score and GPA surely are the primary determinants for the committee. However, the committee views these factors in the context of the maturing effect on an individual of some years spent away from formal education; continuing improvement in academic performance as opposed to steady but unexceptional work; financial pressure requiring employment while a full-time student; significant personal achievement in extracurricular work at college or in a work or military situation; and unusual prior training, background, or ethnicity that promises a significant contribution to the Law School community. In addition, economic, social, or educational obstacles that have been overcome successfully by an applicant have contributed to favorable consideration. Other similar factors are also considered.
Law School Admission Test The School of Law cooperates with the Law School Admission Council in the preparation and development of the Law School Admission Test. All applicants for admission are required to take the test. Test scores are used to supplement college records and other criteria that determine admission.
For the convenience of applicants taking the Law School Admission Test, examination centers have been established in many colleges throughout the country, and the test is offered in October, December, February, and June. Applicants are urged to take the test no later than October. Applicants with outstanding academic records who score poorly on the first test and who have good reason to believe they can improve their performance significantly should seriously consider retaking the test. Application forms and further information concerning the test may be obtained from the Law School Admission Council, Box 2000, Newtown, PA 18940; www.lsac.org.
LSDAS The applicant should register with Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) by completing and mailing the registration form obtained from LSDAS. A transcript from each college or university attended should then be sent not to the Law School but directly to: Law School Admission Council, Box 2000, Newtown, PA 18940.
The LSDAS will analyze and duplicate the transcript. If accepted, the student will be asked to submit a final transcript, showing the award of a bachelor’s degree, directly to the School of Law.
Admission From Other Law Schools No person who has previously attended any law school in the United States shall be eligible for admission as a student in this School of Law unless he or she is eligible for re-admission to the Law School previously attended. Applications of students contemplating transfer with advanced standing will not be acted upon until one full year of work has been completed.
Advanced Standing Credit Credit toward the degree of Juris Doctor in this School of Law may be given, at the discretion of the dean or assistant dean or upon vote of the law faculty, for courses satisfactorily passed in a law school in the United States that is either approved by the American Bar Association or is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. However, in no event, is this credit to exceed the equivalent of the work of three full quarters or two semesters. Similar credits may be given, in like manner, for work done in law schools outside the United States.
No credit will be given for work in any single session during which the student failed in two or more courses, nor will credit be given for any course in which the student did not receive a grade of D (or the equivalent) or better, and credits once given may be withdrawn for unsatisfactory work in this school. The dean and assistant dean are given power to make such rulings and adjustments as necessary for the fair and equitable administration of this general provision.
Transfer students are eligible to participate in combined degree programs with other departments and schools of the University and to receive academic credit for graduate-level courses taken in other departments and schools of the University on the same basis as regularly enrolled students. In considering the admission of a transfer student to a combined degree program or the authorization of non-Law School credit for a transfer student, the faculty advisor or the assistant dean, as the case may be, may take into account the transfer applicant’s academic record and the institution from which he or she has transferred.
Health Students who have been admitted to the University must complete a personal medical history form. Appropriate forms are sent after admission is granted. All health requirements must be met prior to registration.
A limited number of applicants who, though unable to fulfill the foregoing entrance requirements, can present proper evidence of good character, maturity, and training, may, in exceptional cases and by special action of the law faculty, be admitted as special students. (The limitation of the number of special students admitted conforms to the recommendation of the American Bar Association.) Applicants who fulfill the regular graduate entrance requirement but who are unable to meet the intense competition for places should note that the special student category is not available to them. Special student applicants must take the Law School Admission Test.
The applicant for admission as a special student must apply on forms available from the Admissions Office, supplemented with detailed information as to prior education, business experience, and general fitness to undertake the study of law. A statement explaining why the applicant is unable to qualify as a regular student must accompany the written application.