Preview of the Supreme Court Preview…

October 19, 2010

A preview of a preview? Well, at W&L Law, anything is possible. It’s kind of like that Land of Lakes butter container. You know the one with that  picture of a woman holding a box with a picture of a woman holding a box with a picture of a woman holding a box. Sally Draper. Child genius.

Tonight marks the occasion of our annual Supreme Court Preview. As part of this yearly event, members of our faculty highlight and discuss interesting cases before the Supreme Court of the United States in the upcoming term. This year’s Preview promises to be particularly entertaining. Discussion topics include: funerals, protests, violence, video games, Arnold Schwarznegger, gender discrimination, custody battles and evidentiary issues, to name a few. And that’s all in about an hour. In fact, there is a great post about this very event (as well as video clips of our faculty members previewing their, er, preview) on our Faculty Scholarship blog. Check it out:

For Your Viewing Pleasure

February 2, 2010

The most recent issue of W&L Law, the alumni magazine of Washington and Lee School of Law, is now available online. The fall/winter issue contains a feature story on Tim Jost, W&L law professor and health care reform expert, who has been a frequent commentator in the media during the last year as the debate over health reform legislation has come to a head. Several alumni who work in the health care sector also share their thoughts on the health care crisis, the Senate and House legislation, and the opportunities that exist for lawyers interested in health law.

We’ve also posted a Scene on Campus photo gallery covering the events of the first few weeks of school. Notably absent are any snow-fall pictures. The Lexington/Rockbridge area made the Weather Channel after a December snow storm dumped upwards of two feet of snow in the area. All that melted away just in time for another six inches this past weekend. Of course, it is snowing today, and more is on the way for weekend. Suffice is to say, we will have some snow pictures for you next time.

W&L Law ACS Named Chapter of the Week

October 29, 2009

The W&L Law American Constitution Society (ACS) chapter was recently recognized by the national ACS organization as “Chapter of the Week,” and this honor is certainly well-deserved. It may be only October, but our chapter has already sponsored a number of extremely successful campus events with even more slated for the coming weeks.

On October 13th, ACS hosted the always popular Supreme Court preview in which several W&L Law professors discussed a few of the compelling cases that will be before the Supreme Court of the United States in the upcoming term. To read more about this event, as well as listen to audio commentary from the participating professors, click here. Video of the event is available below:

Last Friday, the group sponsored two events including a drug policy panel discussion entitled, “Drugs: Science, Reality and Legality.” As part of the discussion, Dr. Stuart Finkelstein, M.D., a leading addiction specialist in the United States, explained the science and reality of drugs and addiction, and Washington and Lee Law Professor Erik Luna presented the legal aspects of drug policy. The speakers also contrasted the current legal and medical responses to drugs in the United States with approaches in the rest of the developed world. Later that evening, on a slightly more lighthearted note, the group hosted a Trivia Night at a downtown Lexington eatery that was open to all members of the W&L Law community.

Lastly, the group will be sponsoring two events next week that will allow W&L Law students to explore the relevance of story-telling to the effective practice of law. Next Wednesday, November 4th, noted storyteller, Noa Baum, an internationally known, professional storyteller who was born and raised in Jerusalem during the turmoil of the ’60s and ’70s, will tell the story of the friendship she developed with a Palestinian woman while living in America, a narrative entitled, “A Land Twice Promised.” In this one-woman theater production, Ms. Baum will weave together the story of their developing friendship and the experiences of their mothers–two generations of women living on opposite sides of a long-standing struggle.

The following day, Ms. Baum will lead a workshop, “Creative Lawyering – Storytelling to Develop Innovative Thinking” in which participating law students will have an opportunity to enhance their ability to hear and tell the stories of their clients, explore and expand their creative self-expression and thinking, examine the process of storytelling and its relation to facts and develop collaboration and team building skills.

We would like to congratulate our ACS chapter on its recent accolades. For a listing, as well as detailed descriptions, of our many student organizations, click here. If you are a prospective student who is interested in learning more about what our many student organizations have planned for the coming year, click here.

If Life Gives You the Lemon Test…

October 26, 2009

by Peter Jetton

Well, you know the rest. The three prongs of the Lemon test took center stage during the 2009 John W. Davis Appellate Advocacy competition, and Chief Judge Michael Luttig, formerly of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and now Executive Vice President of Boeing, was none too pleased.

The problem for the competition involved a war memorial on federal land featuring a cross, and all the competitors faced tough questioning from the three judge panel on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and just what case or test should guide the judges’ decision in the case. There seemed to be no clear answer for the panel, which included Irene M. Keeley of the Northern District of West Virginia and Colonel Mark Johnson of the Court of Military Appeals. Luckily, they didn’t have to decide the case, only who made the best argument. But that could not have been easy either.

In the end, Mike Gardner ’10L was named Best Oralist of the competition, and Margaret Hannapel ’11L was named Runner-up. Kiyomi Bolick ’10L and Patrick Chamberlain ’10L also argued in the final round. Bolick and her writing partner Marti McCaleb ’10L took home Best Brief awards, and Chamberlain and Joshua Shaw were named Runner-up for their brief. Below, you can watch Gardner’s winning argument. A video of the entire competition is available on W&L Law’s YouTube channel.

So you’ve received your LSAT score…

October 20, 2009

by Brett Twitty

We know that those of you who sat for the September LSAT administration have now received your score and while some of you are likely very happy with your result, some of you are not. So, what to do?

First and foremost, please know that, while LSAT scores are important, at W&L Law, we do not use an admissions formula, and applicants are not ranked by any numerical index. While a candidate’s LSAT and GPA are important components of our decision, our application review process extends beyond the numbers.

All applications are reviewed by members of the Admissions Committee which selects applicants for admission to the School of Law on the basis of a comparative evaluation of the credentials submitted by the applicants.  We consider undergraduate grades and transcripts, LSAT scores, recommendations, significant employment or post-graduate educational experience, extracurricular activities, special skills and talents, community service involvement and the personal statement, to name a few factors weighed when an admissions decision is rendered.

Even still, some of you may be considering re-taking the LSAT. Below are the answers to a number of questions students taking a later LSAT administration often have.

Which LSAT should I take? December? February?

If you elect to retake the LSAT, we strongly recommend you sit for the December test administration. Scores are not reported from the February administration until very late in our application cycle – while some seats typically remain available, we have extended many offers and the competition for the remaining spots can be exceptionally keen.

If I choose to take the December LSAT, should I go ahead and begin sending in my application materials?

Yes. I repeat: Yes. If you choose to take the December LSAT, we encourage you to submit an application now, and begin sending along the various constituent parts of your Credential Assembly Service (CAS) report (transcripts, letters of recommendation) to the LSAC. By doing this, your file will be complete (and therefore eligible for review) much sooner than if you wait until you receive your results to begin the application process or to submit other required documents to the LSAC.

But I took the September LSAT. If I apply, how can I make sure my application is not reviewed before my new LSAT score is available?

If you’ve previously taken the LSAT, do not worry that we might somehow review your (technically complete) file before we receive your new LSAT score. Simply provide us, in Section I, Item 8 of our application, the date of your future LSAT administration, and we’ll hold your file for review until we receive scores from that test.

If my file is not complete until late December, won’t I be really far behind?

No. We make admissions decisions on a rolling basis, and there is no early action program. Each year, we wait until we have a critical mass of applications to begin our review (so that we might have some perspective on the kinds of applications we’re seeing in a given cycle), and while each year is just a little different than its predecessors, we don’t typically achieve this volume until November or December. We usually mail out our first admissions decisions around the first of the year and will continue to make decisions over the next few months. We guarantee every applicant whose file is complete by March 1 a decision by no later than the end of March/first week in April.

How will the Admissions Committee look at my multiple LSAT scores?

In accordance with our policy of reviewing all the materials submitted with an application, we look at each of your LSAT scores as we consider your candidacy. Absent a compelling reason that persuades us otherwise, we place the greatest weight on your highest score because statistical analysis indicates that a student’s highest score is the best predictor of his/her success at W&L Law. In accordance with American Bar Association guidelines, the median LSAT score for an entering class is calculated using matriculants’ highest LSAT score.

What if I change my mind and choose not to sit for the December LSAT?

If you change your mind and decide not to sit for the test after all, or decide to sit for a later test administration, simply contact us so that we can either remove the “hold” on your file or change the date on which we’ll check for a new score.

Have other questions? Please feel free to send us an email at

Symposia Coming to a Law School Near You?

October 19, 2009

by Brett Twitty

At W&L Law, we are fortunate to have a number of great lectures and events on campus each and every year, and this year, we will host a number of symposiums addressing a broad range of timely legal issues and topics.

On Friday, November 6, 2009, we will host a symposium exploring what psychology, medical science, and the law can teach us about school-related violence such as that witnessed at Columbine and Virginia Tech and the appropriate institutional responses to such events. Speakers will include Gary Pavela, a well-know authority on campus suicide, and Lucinda Roy, an English professor at Virginia Tech who served as Seung-Hui Cho’s tutor. Conference organizer and W&L Law professor Ann Massie has written extensively on this topic and developed a legal theory placing at least some responsibility on campus personnel to intervene when a student is in crisis. This event is co-sponsored by our Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice (JCRSJ) and the Frances Lewis Law Center. For more about this event, click here.

Our law school has recently announced a new partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to explore the prevention and efficient management of investment treaty disputes. A joint Symposium is currently being organized to foster dialogue and collaboration between international investment law and dispute resolution experts in order to provide government officials, investors, practitioners, arbitrators, scholars and other stakeholders with tools to approach issues associated with investment treaty disputes.  The effort culminates in a conference at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia on March 29, 2010. To read more about this event, click here.

The Washington and Lee Law Review and our Journal of Energy Climate and the Environment (JECE) will also host symposia in the coming months. For more information on our four journals, click here.

For content from last year’s JECE Symposium on Climate Policy for the Obama Administration, click here. For a complete listing of prior symposia sponsored by the Frances Lewis Law Center, click here. And lastly, watch video of the Tucker Lecture (featuring noted constitutional law and federal civil procedure scholar Erwin Chemerinsky) from last year’s Law and Media Symposium:

Appellate Advocacy Finalists Named…

October 15, 2009

By Brett Twitty

After many late hours, long brief drafting sessions, several highly competitive rounds of oral argument and even an appearance before a three judge panel consisting of members of our faculty, the finalists for the annual John W. Davis Moot Appellate Advocacy Moot Court competition have been named. The finalists are:

Kiyomi Bolick
Patrick Chamberlain
Mike Gardner
Margaret Hannapel

The Final Round of oral arguments is scheduled for October 23, 2009, and, during this round, the four finalists will argue before a three judge panel of federal judges that will include Judge Michael Luttig, a W&L undergraduate alum and former Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals judge who was on President Bush’s “short list” for the Supreme Court.  Judge Luttig now serves as Chief Counsel for the Boeing Corporation in Chicago. The other judges are Irene M. Keeley of the Northern District of West Virginia and Colonel Mark Johnson of the Court of Military Appeals.

This year’s problem centers upon a fascinating First Amendment issue, and the finals should be exciting. At the conclusion of the final round, awards will be presented to the top oralists, to the winner(s) for Best Brief, and to the first runner-up for Best Brief.

As previously noted, the Appellate Advocacy competition is unlike any other Moot Court event, and our finalists deserve to be commended for the job they’ve done. Video of this year’s final round will be available soon after the completion of the competition here, as well as on the W&L Law Admissions Facebook page and on W&L Law’s YouTube channel. Until then, check out video of last year’s winning oral argument by current Moot Court Board member and Mock Trial administrator, Victoria Corder.