From TLS.com's analysis (through the dean's and students' testimonials):
Two factors help maintain the relaxed atmosphere. Classes are graded on a B+ curve, which is generous, and to keep competition less cutthroat, no class rank is issued. The result of the lack of ranking, says a first-semester student, “means no direct rivalry; you’re not looking at a list and seeing a couple other students directly above [you] and getting an urge to sabotage them to help yourself.” Accordingly, students seem to freely share notes and information, supporting each other wherever possible.
Is this an accurate assessment of the classroom "culture"? Also, I understand most of the professors adhere to either Socratic or so-called semi-Socratic Method. Is it a fair statement that the professors are balanced politically and do not, for the most part, bring their views to their lectures.
Any feedback is appreciated.
1) Classroom culture - very few profs do harsh cold calls; most incorporate cold calls into their lectures and some don't cold call at all. I think there is a general expectation that you will do your reading, etc. (i.e., some profs get snarky if people are regularly unprepared)
2) Political leanings - if you were to look at party affiliation / donations, I'm pretty sure UVA profs are split 50/50. However, few, if any, professors let their personal views come into the classroom. I have professors who I have absolutely no clue where they fall on the political spectrum. Additionally, some of the 'conservative' powerhouses lecture from a completely viewpoint neutral standpoint. Example - Prof. Nelson is one of the top textualist academics in the nation - but, when you take his Statutory Interpretation class (aka Legislation), he teaches it from a very balanced, neutral standpoint (and spends as much time critiquing the Scalia viewpoint as the Brennan viewpoint).
3) Lack of rankings - this is kind of BS. Why? I can provide several datapoints for you - 1) Law Review invitations are extended to ~ 40 people after 1L year - 25/40 = the top 25 of the class and 15/40 = write on. The GPA cutoff is announced for the top 25 - which means you have a datapoint for top 6.7%. A GPA is announced for employers representing the top 25% - 3.48. There are a few other publicly available datapoints as well. So, my point is - there are a bunch of data points if you really want to know your approximate class rank. Plus, the grade distributions for each class (not year, but literally for each class) are provided.
4) Competitiveness - I think overall, UVA isn't that competitive. Yes, people want to do well. However, I don't know of anyone who seeks to do well as the expense of others. People freely share notes. People who know me IRL know that I freely and spontaneously send notes to people who miss class and I freely share my own outlines.