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Virginia Law Schools

Virginia is for Lovers, state motto and welcome sign on a billboard surrounded by trees

Virginia is a cultural, economic, and political hub. The state borders Washington, D.C., and Richmond served as the capital of the Confederacy in the Civil War. It is home to the U.S. Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. It is also one of the largest economies in the region, with a bustling technological sector drawing investment capital from across the country.

Virginia's historical and contemporary importance as a regional hub has led to the establishment of numerous law schools. The following article provides a brief overview of the state's accredited law schools with some observations that can help you narrow your options.

Appalachian School of Law

Established in the 1990s, Appalachian School of Law has small class sizes that allow for a considerable amount of personal attention for individual students. The school emphasizes community service, and students must complete at least 25 hours of service each semester to qualify for graduation.

ASL is located in Grundy, a small town of about 1,500 in the Appalachian Mountains. If you enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing, you'll find many great opportunities when you need a break from your studies.

The school offers a handful of certificate programs, including two cybersecurity tracks offered in partnership with Virginia Tech. Tuition at ASL is around $41,000 a year.

In recent years, the school has struggled to meet ABA standards for bar passage — in 2021, only around 34% of first-time test takers passed the bar. However, ASL remains an accredited school and is not currently under probation or subject to a teach-out plan.

George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School

Renamed in 2016 following the Supreme Court justice's death, Antonin Scalia Law School is one of the top law schools in Virginia and among the top 15 public schools in the nation. The school is located in Arlington, a short train ride away from Washington, D.C.

Justice Scalia was widely known for his conservative politics, so it's probably no surprise that the school's faculty tends to have a conservative inclination. However, taking inspiration from Justice Scalia's close friendship with the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the school has announced new events bringing together scholars from differing viewpoints to discuss important issues.

Scalia Law is a fairly affordable law school option for Virginia residents, with tuition of about $27,000 a year. Out-of-state students pay closer to $43,000.

Graduates from Scalia Law achieve higher than average bar passage rates, with around 90% of first-time test takers passing in 2021. The national average for 2021 was around 78%.

Liberty University School of Law

Liberty University School of Law is a private Evangelical Christian school located in Lynchburg. The school does not appear on the U.S. News and World Report's list of the nation's best law schools, meaning it ranks among the bottom 25 percent of law schools. However, those interested in a legal education from a Christian perspective may find Liberty an attractive option, particularly since all students receive some form of financial aid to offset the $40,000 annual tuition.

Regent University School of Law

Regent Law was founded by media mogul Pat Robertson as "Christian Broadcasting Network University" in 1986. The school maintains a "Christ-centered mission," so those holding differing viewpoints may not find Regent to be entirely welcoming. But for those open to a religious law school experience, Regent is highly ranked and boasts very high employment and bar passage rates for graduates.

Regent is also an economical law school option, with tuition of about $27,000 a year.

University of Richmond School of Law

Richmond Law produces the majority of the state's judges, a remarkable accomplishment given that each year's class of law students is particularly small. The school is considered highly selective and only accepts about 150 juris doctor candidates every year.

Richmond grads typically achieve high bar passage rates — around 85% of first-time test takers passed the bar in 2021. Tuition at Richmond is on the higher side, about $50,000 a year, but around half of the students receive scholarship funds for at least half of their tuition.

University of Virginia School of Law

Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the fourth-oldest active law school in the country. The school consistently ranks among the top ten law schools nationwide and is considered Virginia's top law school. Major firms looking to recruit new talent often seek out University of Virginia grads, and the school places a large number of Supreme Court clerks.

The attention and prestige associated with the school have led to highly competitive admissions and the highest tuition for a legal program in the state. Tuition is around $70,000 a year, and only about 13% of applicants for the 2022 entering class received offers of acceptance.

Washington and Lee University School of Law

Washington and Lee offers another small law school option, with just a little over 100 students in each class. The school generally ranks among the top 30 law school programs in the country. Tuition is about $52,000 a year, and while there are merit scholarships available, the school does not currently offer need-based grants or scholarships.

One unique aspect of W&L's student culture is its "Honor System." Established by General Robert E. Lee during his tenure as President of the university, the Honor System provides that any student found guilty of a single violation of an "Honor Violation" is subject to expulsion. Interestingly, the Honor System is defined and administered by the students without oversight or appeal and isn't even codified.

William and Mary Law School

Although many Virginia law schools have a long and prestigious history, William and Mary Law School is the oldest law school in the nation (though it closed for about 60 years during and following the Civil War). Those interested in history will appreciate the school's many connections to U.S. history and its close proximity to Colonial Williamsburg.

Tuition for Virginia residents runs around $32,000 a year, while out-of-state students should expect to pay closer to $50,000. Nearly the entire student body receives at least some scholarship funding.

Learn More About Law School

Starting law school involves a number of complicated decisions. A little information can help ensure you make the choices that will lead you to a successful and satisfying career. You'll find articles and links covering a wide array of helpful topics at FindLaw for Law Students.

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