Vanderbilt Law School, or VLS, was established in 1874. With a population of just over 550 students, it is a smaller school but one with an especially lively atmosphere. The school is well-known for having an extremely high bar passage rate; over 92% of students pass on their first try. Class sizes are a little bit larger than the other top-tier law schools, but all students do receive individualized attention from faculty.
Students can choose to complete degrees other than a traditional J.D., including joint degrees like a J.D./M.B.A. with the Owen Graduate School of Management, a J.D./M.D. with the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and a J.D./M.P.P. through Peabody College. In a regular program, first-year students are required to take civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, legal writing, property, the regulatory state, and torts. They must also take the mandatory “Life of the Law,” which provides students with the skills that will help prepare them for their other 1L classes.
Second and third-year Vanderbilt Law School students are also required to take a number of courses including constitutional law, professional skills, and professional responsibility. Students can also choose from over 230 courses for their electives. Upper-level programs are also available for students to receive a certificate in Law and Business or focus their studies in specific fields like international law, litigation and dispute resolution, and criminal law.
Vanderbilt Law School students participate in clinics during their second or third years. Clinics are available in litigation and transactional practice, which gives individuals the chance to practice law in a hands-on way. Some students’ experiences in clinics encourage them to go into public service after graduation. In fact, the school offers a Public Service Initiative, in which graduates get six-month stipends to take 20-hour a week positions in a public interest organization. Additionally, there is a Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) for students working in public service. Many students also pledge to complete 75 hours of pro bono work during their law school career.
There are many opportunities for students outside the classroom and clinic settings. They can write or edit for one of the four academic journals. Membership in the “Vanderbilt Law Review” is very competitive and students are chosen during their first spring semester. There are also more than 45 student organizations on campus, with a wide range of interests including Law Students for Social Justice (LSSJ), the Women Law Student Association (WLSA), and the Social Justice Program. With a bustling on-campus environment, students will have many opportunities to grow at Vanderbilt Law School.