University of Richmond School of Law
Located in the capital of Virginia, the University of Richmond School of Law is situated on one of the nation's most gorgeous campuses. In addition to the main campus, students can take classes at downtown satellite location just blocks from state government buildings. For applicants seeking to build a career in Virginia, the University of Richmond offers strong academics and plentiful opportunities for networking. While some URichmond graduates go on to find work in New York, California, and other major legal markets, the majority of Richmond Law students choose to work in Virginia, Northern Virginia, and Washington D.C.
Richmond's cost of living is relatively low, and nearby hiking trails, mountains, and beaches offer many options for outdoor recreation. Overall, students are pleased with their time at URichmond, reporting a challenging experience in a positive and non-competitive atmosphere. The law school works to nurture the sense of community encouraged by its relatively small class size of 150 students. With a student to faculty ratio of 10:1, URichmond students enjoy an accessible and highly esteemed faculty.
- 1 Tuition and Fees
- 2 Admissions
- 3 Law school culture
- 4 Professors
- 5 Classes
- 6 Curriculum
- 7 Employment prospects
- 8 Quality of life
- 9 Facilities
- 10 Housing
- 11 Indebtedness
- 12 Extracurricular
- 13 Synopsis
- 14 Contact information
- 15 Quick Reference (as of May 2014)
Tuition and Fees
Tuition and fees 2009-2010: $32,450
Estimated living/travel expenses, books and health insurance: $15,030
Tuition and fees 2013-2014: $38,250
Tuition and fees 2014-2015: $39,200
Estimated living/travel expenses, books and health insurance: $16,240
Source: UR Law
Applicants should note that URichmond Law is reducing its enrollment by about ten students per year to reach a permanently reduced class size of around 150 for the Class of 2013. This increased selectivity means admissions will be more competitive in the future.
Associate Dean of Admissions Michelle Rahman describes the ideal candidate as "somebody who will bring something special to the table, some experience they've had that distinguishes them from other applicants. It's not only about the [LSAT and GPA]." With the decrease in class size, URichmond admissions officers will be afforded greater leeway to select candidates with interesting backgrounds or work experience among a group of applicants with similar numbers. For this reason, applicants are encouraged to showcase such experience in a personal or diversity statement. Applicants with numbers near or above the school's medians (161 LSAT, 3.48 GPA) will be competitive, but a solid statement highlighting what special contributions he or she would make to the class will boost the applicants' chances of admission.
|25th - 75th percentile LSAT||158-162||159-162||159-163||159-164|
|25 - 75th percentile GPA||3.23-3.66||3.11-3.55||3.19-3.63||3.24-3.71|
|Percentage Students of Color||20%||22%||19%||unkwn|
|Percentage of Applicants Admitted||35%||30%||29%||unkwn|
|Source: University of Richmond Office of Admissions|
Associate Dean Rahman offers the following description of the admissions committee's method of reviewing applications:
We holistically review each applicant's file and make admissions decisions based upon numerous factors… GPA and LSAT are both given fairly equal weight. An applicant with a low GPA and high LSAT (or vice versa) may present a somewhat more 'balanced' file than would an applicant with a low GPA and a low LSAT. While credentials are an important component in our consideration we are also seeking insight into an applicant's passion, character and commitment to 'giving back.' A student should take time off for the right reasons - because he or she wants or needs to - not because he or she feels that one or two years off makes him or her a stronger applicant. Many students feel mentally prepared to continue their education immediately after college.
Furthermore, an upward grade trend is a positive factor in an application, and the admissions committee does account for the applicant's undergraduate institution's caliber. For applicants with multiple LSAT scores, Richmond will consider the highest score.
Dean Rahman will most likely personally call applicants to let them know of their acceptance. The admissions office encourages current students to pick up index cards with prospective student's information on them- you may receive an email or a text from a current student offering to answer any questions.
Addenda and soft factors
Reasons that a student may want to submit an addendum to Richmond Law include explaining a poor academic semester or an LSAT score that is unrepresentative of the applicant's ability due to certain circumstances. A diversity statement highlighting an applicant's unique background or qualities can also benefit the application. Emphasizing experiences such as Teach for America, the Peace Corps, and Americorps will add a great "soft" factor to an applicant's file, as will highlighting prestigious academic achievements such as Fulbright scholarships.
In addition to receiving a full-tuition scholarship, the John Marshall Scholarship program includes a unique component. There are opportunities for John Marshall Scholars to meet with and be mentored by lawyers and judges in the region, and participants are invited to the faculty colloquy speaker series where cutting edge legal issues are explored. In prior years, the John Marshall Scholars have met privately with Supreme Court Justices, including Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist, prominent government official such as Harold Koh, the former dean of Yale Law School and Legal Advisor to the Department of State and Jeff Lacker, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, and numerous other prominent lawyers.
Applicants with a strong academic record are encouraged to apply for the JM Scholarship. Applicants must write a short essay on a topic provided by the law school. The selection process is fairly selective, with the scholarship committee awarding around twelve of the scholarships per year, although the committee is seeking to increase this number (unknown what the conditions are to keep scholarship or how to go about applying- May 2014).
Aside from the JMS, Richmond awards other scholarships based on the regular law school application; there is no separate application for other scholarships.
Richmond has two waitlists, a priority waitlist and a regular waitlist. Dean Rahman encourages waitlisted students to "contact the admissions office by phone or email to check on the status of the waitlist and to express their continued interest in remaining on the waitlist if they are so interested." Notifications of selection from the waitlist can go out up until the first day of classes, and students report that a good February or June LSAT score or a well-written letter of continued interest (LOCI) can increase a waitlisted applicant's chances of being selected out of the law school application "purgatory."
Current law students interested in transferring to URichmond will need to submit first-year grades, a letter of recommendation from a law school professor, and an undergraduate record including the applicant's UGPA and LSAT score. According to Dean Rahman, "There is no minimum law school GPA requirements; however, successful transfer applicants have a fairly strong GPA and class rank, if their school ranks." Generally, transfer students report a seamless integration into URichmond law. Richmond welcomed 21 transfer students in Fall 2013.
Those seeking to transfer out of Richmond will not face too much resistance. However, the Dean's Office will require you to meet with Dean Williams who will try and tell you 'everything you will be giving up' (high class rank, journal opportunities, networking, etc.). It is up to the student to decide what is best. Students get around five letters of good standing for free from the Dean's Office, but any more will be $5/each. Dean Rahman will also track you down to discuss your transfer options, even if you did not mention it to her.
Law school culture
When visiting URichmond, many prospective students are most impressed with the intimate nature of the school, one recent applicant reporting that "Dean Rahman and Dean Douglass are very nice and outgoing, and the administration in general has done a wonderful job of making me feel comfortable." Be prepared for hugs.
Students select URichmond for its congenial atmosphere, quality faculty, and opportunities the school provides its students. Below, several students describe their experience of URichmond's collegial and close-knit community.
"There is a very helpful and friendly culture among University of Richmond students. I have not experienced the cutthroat competition you often hear about at other schools. Everyone is willing to help their classmates, share outlines, provide notes for missed classes, etc. There have even been times where I missed class due to an illness and classmates sent and offered notes without me even asking."
"Socially, most of us seem to stick together. There are older students who are married and have families, but most of the younger students tend to socialize and hang out together. Students do compete with each other but they also bend over backwards to help one another. Almost everyone is on a first name basis."
"URichmond is very laid back and friendly. There are some necessary exceptions to this general rule - for instance, the Socratic method is employed in most first-year classes and some upper-level courses. For the most part, however, the faculty, staff, administration, and students are very collegiate. There are monthly or bi-monthly gatherings at the school for all to mingle."
"Each student at Richmond Law is assigned an individual study carrel in the library, which functions as a personal "office" or work environment. Students are permitted to take their final examinations in their personal study carrels rather than in a classroom."
"In summary, I like Richmond. My favorite thing is how easy it has been to make friends and how willing everyone is to help each other. Moreover, the admissions staff and professors are there to support students any time they are needed. I've taken advantage of this multiple times already and I am only in my second semester. It was also especially helpful when I had swine flu, they helped me coordinate my classes and even granted me an extension on a large memo assignment. Richmond's culture makes law school more bearable. I couldn't imagine trying to do this somewhere less supportive."
"The culture is very friendly, but this might actually be a bad thing. Richmond is very 'kumbaya' and holds your hand through everything. This may help deal with the stress and adjustment of first year, but I think it is bad for the long run."
Students describe the student body at URichmond as politically diverse, with most of their classmates open to rational discussion of current events and politics. However, during the first-year, many students are very busy and do not follow current events, let alone discuss them. While the school may lean slightly to the left, students report meeting and talking with people with views across the political spectrum. This diversity and open-mindedness combined with an inherent sense of community make students of all political leanings comfortable at URichmond.
The undergraduate part of the school is stereotypically seen as 'preppy.' There will be J. Crew, derby wear, and pearls.
With highly prolific faculty, URichmond law has been ranked fourth on a measure of academic productivity by Roger Williams University. Dean Rahman describes the effect such accomplished professors have on their students:
The real proof is in the classrooms of Richmond Law. Our professors are on the cutting edge of legal scholarship with a record of productivity and achievement that would make any law school proud. When they bring their scholarly insights into the classroom, the experience is better for everyone.
Our professors know that the law is dynamic; it is constantly adapting to changes in society, technology, and demography. And they know that only by studying those changes can they truly impart to their students an understanding of what the law is.
After channeling substantial funds into hiring distinguished faculty, URichmond has lowered the student-to-faculty ratio to an impressive 10:1. In 2009, faculty members published in a number of law reviews and journals, including Yale Law Journal, Columbia Law Review, NYU Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Virginia Law Review, Duke Law Journal, Northwestern University Law Review, Cornell Law Review, and UCLA Law Review, to name a few.
An admissions counselor reports that "Every one of our current tenured and tenure-track professors has published a law review article or book chapter in the last five years, and the average is much higher." Students have nothing but praise for the full-time faculty. The adjunct faculty, however, are not as highly regarded by some students as the tenured professors.
A first-year student says the following about their experience with URichmond faculty:
The professors, for the most part, seem to enjoy teaching and take interest in students' progress. Most professors are very accessible outside of class. I would often drop in without an appointment to ask a question or two, and they always seemed happy and willing to help me out.
Some professors even invite students to dinners, events, and other activities outside of school. Most first-year professors set up lunch dates during the first semester to get to know students. This really helps build a good rapport with professors and is an amazing way not only to "pick their brains," but also to build networks and procure recommendations down the line.
Some students describe their favorite faculty members:
"My favorite professor is probably Chris Cotropia. He's one of our many outstanding intellectual property professors. Like nearly all professors at URichmond, he maintains an open-door, open-cell phone policy: call or stop by anytime."
"Professor Corinna Lain is my favorite. She turned Criminal Procedure into an animated television show! Everyday was exciting and entertaining. She successfully applied the text to everyday life. There was never a dull moment!"
"My favorite professor is Professor Walker. She provides Academic Success Program training for all first year students and their transition from undergraduate/masters programs to law school. Once a week, she provides success tips for legal writing, reading and briefing cases, stress management, note taking, study habits and exam taking. Without her lessons and guidance, my first year would have been much more difficult."
"Professor Harbach is amazing. She's really accomplished and smart; just being in her class makes you want to be better. She teaches first-year Civil Procedure, which honestly isn't the funnest class, but she makes it somewhat enjoyable. She also teaches upper-level Family Law so you can take her again."
As for the adjuncts, a third-year says:
Most professors understand that their class isn't the only class students are taking, and they are reasonable with their reading assignments. Others, unfortunately, don't care - by 'others' I mean the adjuncts; the full-time professors at Richmond are wonderful, the adjuncts - not so much.
The first-year Legal Skills curriculum use to be taught by adjuncts, but is now taught by full-time professors and librarians.
Finally, another first-year reports:
They do a good job, in my opinion, of comparing Virginia law to other states as they teach us the law. They spend less time theorizing about what the law should be and more time helping us figure out what it is first as well as teaching us how to think like lawyers in the process, and I personally appreciate this a great deal.
URichmond Law lives up to its reputation as a school with excellent full-time faculty. While there are some complaints about the adjunct members of the faculty, it should be noted that all law schools show some variation in professor quality.
Each instructor at Richmond Law has his or her particular style of teaching. A first-year holds that teaching methods vary class to class, stating,
Some professors are very into the Socratic method, while others prefer a lecture or volunteer format. I would say a majority of the first year courses are taught using some version of the Socratic Method, but the professors are not harsh or mean. They are generally helpful and interested in guiding you to the correct answer.
Another student shares this assessment and elaborates on what is expected from first-year students:
Your first and second semester, most of the professors do cold-call, but by the time you've made it into the second semester, a lot of them either lighten up or stop cold-calling completely. Some more traditional professors will continue to cold-call, others won't do it at all in upper level classes and it is more of a discussion format.
You are expected to come to class prepared. A lot of professors do not expect you to use supplements, but some do. Most will give you at least three absences before failing you, and some don't take attendance at all. There are very few midterms, but during your first year especially, some professors do give them.
In summary, the teaching styles and methods vary a great deal at the school depending on the professor and type or level of class they teach, but many of the professors have been teaching the topics for over 20 years and know nearly everything there is to know about their chosen area. Many of them provide old exams for practice before the final.
Students at URichmond will learn the law, whether the professor's teaching method is Socratic or more lecture-based. Professors at Richmond are hands-on and will do what they can to ensure their students are fully prepared by exam day.
A second-year describes the workload at URichmond as "intense, but manageable. The school has a strict curve for first-year students, but students that study hard generally do well." The curve for first-year class is changing Spring 2014 to a B+ median. The upper-level classes are also having their curve changed as of Fall 2015.
A 1L elaborates on this description:
You take three major courses in your first semester along with a legal research class, which meets for half of the semester and a legal writing course, which meets for the full semester. The workload never feels too taxing. The model is the same in the second semester, except an extra class is added.
I have not experienced many 'gunners' here, and most students seem genuinely interested in the class material. Nearly everyone uses laptops to take notes. There are students who don't pay attention during class, but they are few and far between. Class attendance is high, and it's rare that someone comes to class unprepared.
First-year students are required to take the following classes: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, lawyering skills, property, and torts. There is also an upper-level writing requirement that can be satisfied by a "substantial paper that requires in-depth research and rigorous analysis of a specific area of law…fulfilled by an independent research paper, a paper for a seminar, or a published article or student note in a law review," according to Richmond Law's website. Before graduation, students must also take Professional Responsibility and Law Skills 3.
A first-year student describes their approach to successfully handling the workload:
It is absolutely crucial to not waste too much time and to take your law school work seriously because it is your job for three years. I do my work on a 9-to-5 schedule and I am generally home somewhere between 3:30 and 6:30 every day. I don't bring my books home and I don't work on the weekends.
I've been told that it adds about 8 hours of work every week to two weeks if you do law review. The other journals are a smaller time commitment. It can get complicated when you're trying to schedule activities and school, but so far I've found time to do my work in addition to volunteer and perform in competitions. I am also married, so that contributes to my work schedule. I think single students are more willing to take work home as a whole because they aren't taking away time from their partner by doing work at home.
The typical first-year class size is an relatively small 55 students. Over 100 classes are offered to upperclassmen that have 25 students or less. Classes are initially broken up into three sections which are broken into smaller sections for lawyering skills and legal research classes.
Exam styles vary from professor to professor, though a first-year notes that "many of the professors, at least in my experience, put word limits on their exams. Of the 7 exams I will take, (3 first semester, 4 second semester), four have word limits. I can't say I'm a fan of this, but I know many students who like it. It's really a matter of preference." When it comes to grades, a 1L informs us:
The curve is to a 3.0, but after doing some research, we've found that most classes actually have a median around 3.15. The curve seems fair, and most professors, at least from my limited first semester experience, construct the layout of their curve based on how the class did on the exam. I've seen everything from extremely flat to extremely sharp curves in my classes so far.
Students, especially first-years, stress over registration, but do not need to. There is much movement among the classes and waitlists that students usually get into the class they want. Students can also register for clinics and placements instead of classes during their second and third years.
Classes at Richmond Law are small, collegial, and have a relatively generous curve. Students are not overworked, though there is the opportunity for the overzealous student to take on more than he or she can can handle if time is mismanaged. Even so, professors, classmates, and administrators work to make sure everybody is focused on their studies.
Although Richmond requires students to have a laptop, a few professors ban laptops from their classes, some of whom make audio recordings of their lectures available online. Gibson, Harbach, and Lain are all professors which ban laptops.
Dean Rahman names a few of the several specializations on which URichmond prides itself:
For more than twenty years, the law school's Robert R. Merhige Center for Environmental Studies (http://law.richmond.edu/) has engaged in research, instruction, and public outreach on energy and environmental issues.
In 2004, the school founded the Intellectual Property Institute (http://law.richmond.edu/ipi/), with four full-time professors, a clinic, a certificate of concentration in intellectual property, and a variety of engaging programs that focus on important intellectual property and cyberlaw issues.
And our most recent specialization is The National Center for Family Law (http://law.richmond.edu/ncfl/), which offers a wide variety of courses, a certificate in Family Law, a pro bono initiative, and numerous annual events.
Applicants are encouraged to refer to http://law.richmond.edu/centers/index.php for a complete list of URichmond's specializations. These programs provide students a leg-up in a particular field of the law by exposing students to professors and concepts invaluable to each specific field.
Study abroad and dual degree programs
Richmond Law has a partnership with Emmanuel College at Cambridge University in England. Students can spend a summer studying across the pond or, if they so desire, a semester abroad at one of UR Law's partner universities around the world. A sampling of available options is available here.
Students at UR Law also have the opportunity to gain a dual degree in one of many fields. These include an MBA/JD, MHA/JD, MSW/JD, MURP/JD, and MPA/JD.
Clinics and externships
A current student describes the value of clinics and externships:
The ability to actually learn what you're going to be doing after graduation is very important, and you don't always get that chance if you're stuck in classroom 14 hours a semester. As someone interested in litigation and trial work, there is an opportunity to see firsthand the attorneys practicing every day; I get to watch them serve court every day, an experience that has been very valuable to me.
Richmond has seven in-house clinics available including Actual Innocence, Family Law, Delinquency, Disability, Intellectual Property, Juvenile Law and Policy, and Advanced Children's Law. The law school recently added UR Downtown, a 4,500 square-foot facility in the heart of the city that further expands Richmond Law's outreach and opportunities for students by collaborating with non-profit and government partners to address pressing community needs in part through pro bono legal services. Students can also take classes at this facility, steps away from important government buildings. Additionally, Richmond maintains an extensive Clinical Placement Program permitting students to take full advantage of the legal and political resources offered by the capital city.
Dean Rahman continues:
Students can select clinical placements in civil, criminal, judicial, litigation, and in-house counsel fields. Sample clinical placements include the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, Virginia Supreme Court justices, ProctorSilex, and the Department of Environmental Quality.
A first-year agrees that clinics are a valuable addition to the law school:
The clinical programs are excellent. I am very excited about them. They have a clinical placement program to put you somewhere in the community in addition to all of their other advertised programs. I am trying to get into the Intellectual Property Law Clinic that they just started because it's their only major transactional clinic.
My teaching assistant for my lawyering skills class is currently placed with a judge and she loves it. If you wait until your third year to do the placement program then you can actually try cases with your third-year practice certificate. That leads to students that worked for the Commonwealth's Attorney's office over the summer actively seeing cases through during the fall and spring semesters. In short, there are tons of opportunities to get hands-on experience while studying at Richmond.
A third-year student is frank in describing the employment situation at UR Law:
Like everywhere, the job markets in Richmond and Virginia have declined over the past few years. Many of my 3L classmates are still without job prospects, and many who have jobs are dissatisfied with their employment.
That said, I think Richmond remains more insulated from job losses than other cities. As the capital, all levels of federal and state courts are here. Notably, many of our alumni occupy high-level positions in government, law firms, and public interest organizations, giving URichmond students a leg up in the job search.
Another third-year describes her experience:
I have a job upon graduation this May clerking for the Fairfax Circuit Court. From what I've heard, though, most third year law students do not have jobs lined up [as of February 2010].
As far as summer jobs, a lot of firms seem willing to hire students for unpaid internships, and summer clinicals (where the school places you in a position and you earn 5 credits upon completion). Last summer, I was placed with a Circuit Court Judge; not only was it great to put on my resume, but it helped me get my clerkship.
Some graduates are still looking for work several months after graduation. Dean Rahman concedes the point that "the current legal market offers many unknowns." She continues, "Nationwide, record changes in the marketplace have left almost everyone questioning and guessing as to how things will look in the future."
Only 66% of students had employment secured at the time of graduation in 2008, a rather troubling percentage. However, in 2009, over 95% of students had found jobs or were enrolled in a full-time degree program nine months after graduation. 2009 graduates going into the private sector earned a median starting salary of approximately $105,000. Those in public service started with a median salary of $50,000.
|Placement Statistics (9 months after graduation)|
|Government (including military)
|Business and Industry||22%||29%||24%||20%|
Source: UR Law Career Center
As mentioned above, URichmond is considered a regional school, possibly its greatest strength. A current first-year agrees, with a caveat:
I will say it is definitely a regional school, but it is possible to get jobs in other regions. It simply is a bit more difficult and requires a lot more networking. If you want to work in Virginia, URichmond is an excellent choice. The school seems to place reasonably well in DC for a non-DC school.
Another first-year student describes Richmond's strong local network:
There is more regional than national placement, but it is not because of name recognition - a lot of people just decide to stay in Richmond.
Of course there will be fewer opportunities to work at a large, top law firm than there would be going to a top school, that should be clear. Finding a job at one of the top firms is possible, [since] Richmond is well-respected in the area, it is just more difficult than it would be coming from UVA.
But if you're looking for a judicial clerkship, public interest career, or small- to medium-size firm, I think you won't have a problem [as a Richmond grad] even in this economy.
Another student believes URichmond's location gives students greater access to local opportunities. It should be noted that most students at Tier 2 and Tier 3 schools with regional reputations do have options outside of a their state or region - it just takes some extra push to get those jobs. A first-year agrees:
I don't think graduating from Richmond would keep you from getting a job somewhere outside of Virginia. What I am trying to say is that I think if you're shooting for a top 250 law-firm job in Chicago or you're trying to become a law professor, it's going to prove to be more challenging.
That being said, it's all about what you make of it. If you go to Richmond and perform well and you're in the top of the class you'll be doing just as well as you would be near the middle of the class at a larger, higher ranked school in my opinion.
Still, at UR Law, these students are the exception to the rule. Less than 10 percent of graduates venture West of the Mississippi, as the numbers below show. That said, self-selection certainly plays a significant factor in these statistics; many Richmond Law students choose Richmond Law due to their specific interest in working in the South Atlantic.
|Top Geographic Locations (2007 Graduates)|
|South Atlantic (DC, DE, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA [60%], WV)||87%|
|Middle Atlantic (NJ, NY, PA)||5%|
|Pacific (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA)||3%|
|New England (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT)||1%|
|Mountain (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY)||1%|
|West South Central (AR, LA, OK, TX)||1%|
|Midwest (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI)||1%|
|East South Central (AL, KY, MS, TN)||1%|
An admissions representative states that students at URichmond often pass the Virginia bar exam at a rate exceeding those of more highly ranked law schools. The law school also notes that students who take the bar in other states enjoy a pass rate of as high as 100% in those states.
|2008 Bar Passage Rates (via ABA)|
|State||UR Law's Passage Rate||Jurisdiction's Overall Passage Rate|
Each year, about 20% of the graduating class take judicial clerkships -- a rate which is double the national average. Richmond has more courts than anywhere in the country outside of Boston and D.C., offering graduates many opportunities for clerkships. It should be noted that, in turn, this high percentage of graduates in clerkships has a misleadingly adverse effect on graduate salary statistics, as these positions pay significantly lower than most private-sector jobs.
According to an admissions representative, Richmond Law has offered summer stipends to students working in public interest jobs since 2005. The recent opening of the Harry L. Carrico Center for Pro Bono Service in downtown Richmond also indicates the law school's commitment to this branch of work. The center matches students with local attorneys, legal organizations, and community outreach groups in a variety of settings - from helping a victim of domestic violence obtain a protective order to assisting a nonprofit with its incorporation. Furthermore, students logging 120 hours of service during their three years graduate with a pro bono certificate.
A second-year shares some general information about the Richmond market:
The University of Richmond Law School is a regional school with an excellent reputation in the area, and Richmond has a very sophisticated legal market. These factors combine to provide great job opportunities at large, medium and small firms throughout Virginia. I am fortunate enough to have been offered a summer job with one of the large firms in Richmond.
For some students, the proximity of URichmond to firms and courthouses has tangible benefits.
Quality of life
Richmond's southern flair and lively atmosphere combine with the law school's welcoming and collegial environment to make URichmond an enjoyable place to spend three years. According to Dean Rahman,
Prospective students will find Richmond Law to be a welcoming, collegial, and social environment. Our students find social outlets through a variety of student organizations, Student Bar Association-sponsored happy hours (to which faculty and staff are often invited), and sports teams such as intramural softball and flag football. Popular annual events include the Phi Alpha Delta auction, which raises money for summer public interest stipends, the student-sponsored Halloween party, and the Barrister's Ball.
A first-year adds:
The quality of life here is quite good. Richmond and the surrounding area is really pleasant. The area around the law school is relatively safe and crime free. Rent is very affordable, and many students can easily find places to live within a 5-minute drive or less of the law school.
Other students choose to live further away, but they seem to do fine as well. The city itself offers some interesting and diverse neighborhoods full of young professionals and other graduate students. The social scene there is nice, and there are a lot of bars and attractions available.
I chose to live near campus in a neighborhood occupied by a lot of families and older adults. I really like where I live, as I have easy access to the school, but I'm not far from any of the social activities or downtown. Parking on campus is reasonable and very affordable. Nearly all students drive to class.
I must say most of us don't go downtown very often. Usually "going out" results in going to local bars and establishments. I think this speaks more to the time constraints of the 1L year than anything else.
Richmond has a reputation for being high in crime, but it is really overblown. There are some bad areas in the city, sure, but the area around the university is very safe and comfortable, and most of the city is safe and pleasant to visit.
Another student reports:
The campus is gorgeous. It is a park-like setting with a lake in the center; the only negative right now is there is a ton of construction since they are building a new football stadium as well as a new international studies center.
I believe both projects will be done by next fall [in 2010], and in the meantime, it doesn't hamper movement too much. Parking isn't great on campus, mostly due to construction.
95% of law students live off campus and commute as there are very few dorms available. The dorms are about a 10-minute walk from the law school.
Students have many positive things to say about the URichmond Law facilities:
The law school is a beautiful brick building just across the street from the brand new football stadium. It is located a short distance from the downtown restaurants and nightlife. For those that prefer a quieter lifestyle, the campus is located in a very quiet neighborhood with large parks and the river nearby.
The school also has an office downtown which is right across the street from the Federal District Court House, three blocks from the General Assembly, four blocks from the Fourth Circuit US Court of Appeals, and two blocks the State Circuit Court.
Current students suggest visiting URichmond as it is the best way to get a sense for the campus.
Dean Rahman says:
Our classrooms have been remodeled to state-of-the-art status. The library has added several gorgeous group study areas to complement the private individual study carrels for those who wish to study in their own office.
The faculty study has been turned into a student commons with free coffee available to our students at any time. Our Atrium area has been refurnished for casual student use and several of our restrooms have been totally renovated.
A third-year says, "The law building is older, and that comes with the usual maladies. The school is renovating, though, and I've been comfortable in this building throughout my time here." Another student states campus has "any number of places to sit, relax, focus and enjoy a beautiful surrounding." The red brick of many of the study areas and buildings complements the plentiful greenery right outside the law school's windows.
Students also have praise for the new gym and the law library, in which every student has their own assigned desk.Overall, URichmond is described as a comfortable and attractive setting to study law.
URichmond offers a limited amount of on-campus housing on a first-come, first-serve basis. For students looking for housing off-campus, current students offer some advice:
"The Fan features historical urban setting with cool shops, fantastic restaurants, museums, historic theaters, and great night life."
"You can find much, much cheaper housing than the apartment complexes in The Fan. Honey Tree, in the West End, is less expensive, but I haven't heard much good said about them."
The Estates and The Village are both owned by Gumenick. The Estates is more modern with up to date appliances. They have access to a swimming pool, fitness center, and clubhouse (with free printing and coffee). The properties are townhouse-like and have a small porch either in the front or back. The Village is right next door and has access to a different pool. They have vinyl siding and carpeting throughout. Both are pet friendly and have access to a walking trail, playgrounds, and volleyball courts. Both properties are 5 minutes from campus and are 2 minutes from a Martin's, Starbucks, and CVS. One bedrooms at The Estates start around $1200/month. One bedrooms at The Village can be around $700. Gumenick also owns Malvern Manor, which is cheaper than The Village, but is 20 minutes from campus.
A helpful first-year gives us this rundown of the campus surroundings:
The campus is only about 15-20 minutes from the more affluent suburbs of the area that houses a ton of restaurants and shopping. Most people live within about 5-10 minutes driving distance at various apartment complexes nearby.
The immediate area surrounding the campus is safe and has places to eat as well as a grocery store. I grew up in Richmond, so I am a bit partial, but I think it's a great city. It's not too large, but it's large enough to find something fun to do at any given time. There are also plenty of historical sites to visit or weekend trips to take in the state.
In sum, housing in Richmond is reportedly plentiful and not too costly. Most students are able to find an affordable and pleasant place to live that is not too far from the law school.
Richmond is full of history and power with "great restaurants, cool pubs, and neat people." A former resident says, "It's a city with a small-town, neighborhood feeling." The city is full of parks, places to relax, read, or exercise. Students enjoy their time in Richmond partly due to the city's relatively low cost of living. However, during 1L year, many students do not have time to explore the city.
Richmond natives say:
I feel like it's the next best place to northern Virginia to find anything you want to do and anywhere you want to go. There's history as well as nightlife, restaurants, shopping, etc.
The beach is only two hours away, and outlet malls and even more historical attractions are within an hour. D.C. is also relatively close.
Nearby are massive state and city parks (Maymont is absolutely breathtaking). The James River adds something immeasurable to the cityscape. You can literally whitewater raft beneath skyscrapers.
The city is an important financial and business center, offering many high profile jobs. Furthermore, it seats a Federal Court and a Federal Reserve Bank. You can practice in at least 10 different state courthouses within a 30-minute drive from your office. These things are what make the experience in Richmond an amazing and worthwhile one.
For the Class of 2008, the average amount of debt at graduation was $84,710. This average is lower than those at many top law schools; however, this still represents a significant financial commitment on behalf of Richmond Law students. As with any other law school, prospective students are advised to carefully weigh their own ambitions and goals along with University of Richmond's strengths, weaknesses, reputation, and recent employment statistics before taking the plunge into student debt.
The law school offers about 30 clubs and organizations to its students, a full list of which can be found here. An admissions representative says:
Richmond Law is rife with intellectual opportunities outside the classroom. In the last five years, the law school has hosted more than a dozen conferences and symposia and more than seventy-five panels, forums, debates, and similar engagements. Add to that the school's three endowed lecture/debate series and other recurring annual events, and the result is a stimulating intellectual environment for the study of law.
A first-year student reports, "Students can plug into various student organizations ranging from the Women's Student Law Association to Veterans and Friends of Veterans Law Association to Animal Law Society. Students find instant homes in these organizations." Clubs and similar organizations offer students to come together around a common interest. Some of the opportunities available are more specific than others, as is highlighted by the following statements from a student:
As a first-year student, I have the honor of being on the Trial Advocacy Board. This organization provides second-to-none training and practice in trial advocacy, case development and Federal Rules of Evidence with practicing attorneys at a large Richmond firm.
I am also involved with the Veterans and Friends of Veterans Law Association, which provides a forum for veterans issues and advocacy. As a veteran, I have the ability to give back to veterans through advocacy, special military events, recognition and legal research efforts.
Overall, students at URichmond are highly likely to find something that suits them.
There is a competition process to join journals; each journal gives different weight to each part of the competition. Currently, you have to take a weekend-long Bluebook exam [sample], and then write a comment on a topic that the journal gives you after finals. They give you a closed research list (detailing which cases/other sources they want you to use), and two weeks to write the comment.
The four legal journals available to students are University of Richmond Law Review, Richmond Journal of Law and Technology (JOLT), Richmond Journal of Law and the Public Interest (JOLPI), and Richmond Journal of Global Law and Business (Global). Students can learn more about each during during the spring as each journal hosts a social and information session. Each journal requires students to hold office hours.
Law Review is the most prestigious and is the only journal which does not have an interview. Law Review is the only journal which considers 1L grades. The 2014 breakdown: 1L grades (25%), Bluebook (25%), casenote (50%). They have a large office on the third floor of the law school.
JOLT allows 2Ls to become published on their blog. Previous knowledge of technology is not required. They have a large office within the law school on the second floor. They held a fiesta social in Spring 2014.
JOLPI has a small office on the third floor. They held a pizza social in Spring 2014.
GLOBAL requires members to attend informational library research sessions.
Richmond has several competitions open to all students. 1Ls can compete for membership in TAB, Moot Court, and the Negotiations Board. However, due to the timing of the competitions, 1Ls may not have learned the skills necessary for success or mastered the material involved.
Moot Court membership is determined by the results of an internal competition administered each spring for 1Ls. A second competition offers membership opportunity for 2Ls in the fall of the following year. The Moot Court Board sends a number of teams to interscholastic competitions across the country and usually places in a few each year.
These opportunities help students strengthen their resume and hone litigation skills. The law school's commitment to these competitions has resulted in a slew of victories including national championships in trial advocacy, mediation, labor and employment and admiralty and seven regional championships and individual advocacy awards.
There is clearly much to love about Richmond Law. In three years, students have the opportunity to make valuable, powerful contacts in the worlds of business, law, the judiciary, and non-profits. Furthermore, students are able to take advantage of three years in Richmond, one of America's most charming and livable small cities. Many students find that Richmond Law is the perfect school for them -- especially those intent on working in Virginia after graduation.
Unfortunately, the effects of the recent economic downturn have affected many law graduates adversely, and the University of Richmond is no exception. Students are rightly worried about their ability to find work, with many third-year students did not have work lined up just a few months away from graduation. However, those who are currently enrolled seem well-aware of the risks involved in finding work after graduation -- a challenge that is hardly unique to URichmond students.
Any prospective students potentially interested in the University of Richmond T.C. Williams School of Law are encouraged to visit the law school and also to reach out to the admissions office. The highly accessible admissions staff will do everything they can to answer your questions or address your particular concerns.
Quick Reference (as of May 2014)
University of Richmond School of Law
U.S. News & World Report Ranking: 51th
LSAT Median: 161 (Class of 2016)
GPA Median: 3.54 (Class of 2016)
Application Deadline: July 31
Application fee: $50
Entering class size: ~150
Yearly Tuition: $38,250
Bar passage rate in Virginia: 89.6% (2009)
Percent of graduates employed at graduation: 45.3% (Class of 2013)
Median private sector salary: $67,500
Median public sector salary: $48,975
Source: US News