yan wrote:Wasn't really considering UVA before, but after receiving a hefty scholarship offer, it's now on my radar. After some further research, the school sounds like a great place to spend three years. Dean Faulk really sold it in the interview. I just have some follow-up questions that I'd appreciate if any current or former students could shed any light on.
1. I am not athletic and would not be participating in any softball related activities. The very idea stirs some mild anxiety in me. Will this be a large social impediment?
2. If my goal is landing district and CoA clerkships after graduation, is this a probable outcome if I put my head down and study, don't slack off in classes, and nurture professor relationships, or is this not something that students should come in expecting?
3. How accessible are professors? Do they hold office hours, or do you really need to hound them down to get face time?
4. How bike friendly is the area around the campus, as well as the city at large? If I only had a bike, no car, would that be feasible for three years?
5. How difficult is it to get on to the Supreme Court clinic? The professors for it seem like they have a good record with the court and this looks like a great opportunity, or am I wrong?
6. Is the law review admissions process in any way ideological, or are they friendly to students of all political stripes?
7. Are students more focused on the vocational aspects of the education provided, or is there also interest in discussing legal theory, social justice, politics, morality and the law, etc., in colloquial settings? (I don't mean to come off as a pretentious douche with this question, I'm just genuinely curious how the climate is in this regard at law school.)
8. If you're interesting in legal academia, in what ways does/can the school support you with this?
Thanks in advance!
1. Softball is fun, but is not required that you participate. I would recommend minimally showing up for a few of your section's 1L games to watch/cheer for esprit de corps, but even that isn't required of students. If you want to play softball, great and you're encouraged to do that even if you don't have an athletic bone in your body. If you really have no interest in playing, that's totally fine and no one will bat an eye at it.
2. Many students come in wanting a clerkship, and if you do the right things like get good grades, cultivate strong relationships with professors, and get on the clerkship train early with the clerkship office, it's very attainable. There is an obvious correlation with how well you do and what clerkships you're competitive for, but UVA students regularly get some of the most highly desirable clerkships in the country, to include feeder clerkships to SCOTUS clerkships (UVA seems to get 2-3 SCOTUS clerks per year, although these are usually a mixture of graduation years because it's almost unheard of to get SCOTUS straight out of law school anymore. Maybe out of HYS, but I don't have/seek any data on that).
3. Professors are very, very accessible. Every professor I've had so far had regular office hours, open door policies they really mean (some are more enthusiastic than others seeing students outside office hours such as asking you to email first to set up a meeting, etc.). Professor availability has been nothing short of fantastic in my experience.
4. Cville is pretty bike friendly so long as you don't mind hills. You can't get past the fact that it's in Central Virginia, which is pretty hilly, but beyond that, there are bike lanes pretty much everywhere, and certainly has at least decent bike accessibility everywhere on North and Main Grounds. Plus most of what you'll want or need is within walking distance of the most popular places for law students to live such as Ivy Gardens, Pavilion, Jeffersonian, and Arlington Courts. You would theoretically need a car for a few things like visiting a winery, Carter Mountain apple orchard, Skyline hiking trail, etc., but this can be covered by friends with cars and obviously Uber/Lyft.
5. I can't speak to this, outside of knowing it's competitive and needs really good grades to qualify. If you end up on the right side of the curve, it'll probably be possible, but I can't speak with authority on that, so I'll defer to others.
6. Journal tryout is in no way ideological. The journal tryout process is entirely blind graded, and is based entirely on your grades, writing ability, and legal analysis (there is also a blue book citation fixing exercise, but this is much more about familiarity with proper legal citations and not ideology or writing ability). Whether you lean right or left, if you have good grades and sound legal reasoning that is clearly demonstrated through your writing, you'll have a good shot. How you get on VLR can also be through several qualifications. 15 make it on grades alone. Another 15 will make it strictly on the journal tryout. Another 5 will be the next 5 on the grades ranking who place in the top half of journal tryout submissions, and another 5 will be the next best journal tryout submissions with top half grades, and finally 5 will be admitted based on what is called the Virginia plan, which means you had top half grades, top half journal tryout, and submitted a compelling personal statement with your journal tryout submission that is selected. I hope this is clear, but if not, feel free to ask.
7. There's obviously a spectrum of people who are primarily in school to get the job they want, while others really enjoy the academic nature of classes, but the most accurate thing I'll say is you'll find people at the school with interests similar to yours. Not everyone is going to want to discuss legal topics outside of class just for fun, but others will. If that's something that interests you, you'll find it. With few exceptions (I can't actually think of any off the top of my head, but any good lawyer or law student will hedge when they're not sure), you will find people with similar interests to your own at UVA Law. Despite the cliche of being incredibly congenial (it is, but it's tired to hear it from those not actively involved in admissions), just understand that your experience at UVA Law can be what you want to make of it. There are even groups formed if you want to purposefully cross ideological divides (Common Grounds started following the last presidential election, and is geared specifically to letting ideologically diverse students exchange ideas without polarizing the discussion).
8. This question kind of goes back to professor availability and interest in students along with support for clerkships. If you show a consistent interest in academia, and you show a knack for it, you'll get the support you need. Not everyone can meet this bar, as academia is an incredibly difficult field to get into generally, but if you have the chops and demonstrate it, you'll get all the institutional support you'll need. That doesn't necessarily guarantee a career in academia (seriously, it's a tough market if you're not a Ph.D from my understanding, and you can't really plan on academia from most places without practicing first, publishing a ton, and having other credentials like a Ph.D), but the support from the school won't hold you back if you're qualified.