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Vanderbilt Law School

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Vanderbilt Law School, ranked 17th by U.S. News and 12th by Above the Law in 2022, seems to operate with several enduring principles in mind: collegiality, excellence, and service. Vandy is located in Nashville, Tennessee, both the state capital and the country's best spot for country music. The school was founded in 1874, and since then, Vanderbilt Law School has been a leader in legal education. The faculty is nationally recognized for its scholarship and teaching, and the school is consistently ranked among the top law schools in the country.


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The Vanderbilt Law School opened in 1874, one year before the main university campus. Only seven students attended the class that first year, and the faculty was trimmed to one. William B. Reese taught all of the classes. At the end of the year, Dean William F. Cooper administered final exams to William Van Amburg Sullivan, who had completed the two-year course of study in a single year. Sullivan, the school's first graduate, returned to Mississippi to practice law and later became a senator from that state.

The law department was reorganized the following year under a lease arrangement, a semi-proprietary contract that would last 25 years. Thomas H. Malone was named dean and was joined on the faculty by Reese and Edmund Baxter. All were part-time faculty members practicing attorneys and judges and maintained offices in downtown Nashville.

In the 130 years since its founding, Vanderbilt Law School has likely surpassed the expectations of its founders, earning a national reputation as a leading education institution fostered by its accomplished student body, its impressive roster of alumni, and its respected faculty—past and present.


Getting into Vanderbilt Law is difficult, though if your numbers are above both medians, you should be OK. Students come from all over the country; the class of 2015 hailed from 36 states, plus D.C., and three countries outside of the U.S., and most (62%) were out of college at least one year before law school.

Vanderbilt Law School's admission process ensures that each applicant receives individual attention and a fair evaluation. The rolling selection process allows for extended consideration in cases where it is appropriate, ensuring that all applications are given the time and attention they deserve. This careful review process results in a student body that contributes to the positive learning environment at Vanderbilt.

Like all admissions offices, the file readers at Vanderbilt Law look for standout applications. This means that if one particular part of your application shines, whether it's your statement, LSAT score, or work experience, your chances of gaining acceptance may improve.


Admissions Stats
Class of: 2020-2021 2021-2022
25th - 50th - 75th percentile LSAT 162 - 167 - 168 165 - 169 - 170
25th - 50th - 75th percentile GPA 3.65 - 3.82 - 3.92 3.7 - 3.89 - 3.95
Acceptance rate 22.6% 14.3%
Applications received 5184 6884
Acceptances 1170 981
Matriculants 1648 1512

The following is a list of the median GPAs and LSATs for each top law school and the 75th percentile GPA and LSAT scores. As you can see, Vanderbilt Law School has very high standards, and if you want to be admitted, you'll need top grades and test scores.

Acceptance Rate

The admissions process is very competitive, and only a small percentage of applicants are offered admission. For the 2022 application cycle, 6,884 people applied, and 981 were offered admission. Of those offered admissions, 149 out of 981 accepted, meaning that 15.19% of those offered admissions ended up attending the school. If you're considering applying to Vanderbilt Law School, keep in mind that the competition is stiff, and the admissions process is very competitive. However, you will join a community of passionate and dedicated legal scholars if you are admitted.

Application Fee

To attend Vanderbilt Law School, you'll need to pay an application fee of $70. This fee is non-refundable, so make sure you're certain about your decision before you apply. You can pay the fee with a credit or debit card online. If you have received a need-based fee waiver through LSAC or a VLS fee waiver, your Vanderbilt application fee will be automatically waived.

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Admissions Basics

Your application is not looked at as separate parts; rather, the admissions process stresses the interdependence of each item you submit. According to Dean Morton, your transcript, grade trends, undergraduate major, and any personal information potentially relevant to academic performance will be considered before determining your GPA's true value.

Dean Morton gave us some insight into the application process. "Each application is reviewed in its entirety by at least two readers. Readers use ratings that approximate each application's overall strength' relative to other applications." In other words, your application, as strong as it is, is paired with other, equally strong applications.

Imagine a pyramid with a small peak level containing relatively few standout applications, a larger second level of "near-standout" applications, a larger third level, and another level or two. Imagine further that there are permeable boundaries between levels because our assessments are admittedly imprecise and differences in "strength" across adjacent levels are often small.

This pyramid structure allows admissions offers to admit students according to their appropriate "level." There are no hard-and-fast rules as to what puts a student at one level or another. This is because admissions officers see students with the same GPA who went to different colleges with different grading standards; students who worked full-time, part-time, or not at all during school; others who were the first in their families to graduate; and others with chronic illnesses or serious handicaps.

The pairing system allows file readers the option to "tip" one student up or down a level, depending on "individual characteristics and potential contributions to the class," Dean Morton said. He added, "In considering work experience, community involvement, extracurricular activities, and the like, we tend to think about not only the what' (i.e., military service, corporate work experience, Teach for America, etc.) but also the how,' to the extent possible."

While some students might gain a slight advantage by applying before decisions start going out, Morton says, "[Any] potential advantage is offset by staging' decisions to avoid exhausting all offers of admission before we have reviewed all applications." Therefore, submitting later in the cycle shouldn't hurt an applicant's chances too much.


A few things will put your transcript ahead of the pack. An upward grade trend is good, especially if your course load, work hours, or extracurricular obligations increase as you improve your grades. If you are fresh out of graduate school, your degree will add to your viability as a candidate.

The school's level of prestige may not play as important a role, though Morton says that "the college attended provides a backdrop" for admissions counselors to evaluate your performance.

Multiple LSAT Scores

Vanderbilt Law School will consider both LSAT scores when deciding on admission rather than discarding one score or the other. Admissions personnel stay away from language that suggests an addendum will make them toss out a lower LSAT for consideration; however, Dean Morton did offer this:

if an applicant provides information that they feel helps interpret their GPA or LSAT (or any other aspect of their application), Vanderbilt will review it, whatever format the applicant provides, and whatever information is included. It is up to the applicant to decide on content and presentation.

If two scores are very far apart (say, six points or more), then an addendum may allow a file reader to lean in favor of one score. In this case, your file readers will need some evidence to help them decide to weigh this score over the other.

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The Interview

Unlike most other law schools, Vanderbilt Law offers an optional interview for all applicants. Most of the time, these interviews are conducted by alumni in or near the applicant's city, which is an impressive testament to the breadth of Vandy's alumni base. Indeed, there are Vanderbilt alums in 49 states, Washington D.C.; three U.S. territories; and 26 foreign nations.

The purpose of the interview is to give each applicant a chance to find out more about Vandy and present herself professionally. In person, this is your moment to show that you can succeed in the legal profession. Valued characteristics include "sociability, maturity, commitment, intelligence, concern for others, [and] listening skills."

Dean Morton stressed that these interviews are good for both the school and the applicant since each can better decide whether Vandy is the right fit or not. "In short, it's a win-win proposition." Alumni will even conduct interviews abroad, and no matter where they are, "your interviewer will write up a brief report of your conversation that provides some impressions of you as a prospective law student."

Personal Statement

To write a personal statement well, you first have to realize that you are put on a stage with no props, no special effects and a single spotlight. All you have is your voice, which has to be clear, if not strong, and the facts of your personal story. Vandy receives many statements that focus on "the people, experiences, and events that have shaped the candidate's course to law school."

Admissions officers read thousands of personal statements each year. If you include a detail or event only because it sounds impressive, they will catch it and write it off as disingenuous. Dean Morton said, "Work to communicate rather than to impress, and to show rather than to tell." That said, if you mention Vandy, it has to be well integrated into the statement, or else it may come off as pandering.

This generally requires thoughtfulness, revision, and sincerity. If you pull it off well, then this is more than likely going to help your application. If you choose the more general route, that is, if you write a statement that will go out to all schools, this can also be useful to file readers. Morton said, "Readers like to know what you will be like as a law student, so a general personal statement helps in that regard."

Dean Morton told TLS what makes for a great personal statement:

Outstanding personal statements are the product of candor, self-reflection, earnest engagement with the prospect of entering the legal profession, attention to detail, and effective communication skills.

He also added a vignette about how a personal statement can get out of hand with detail:

I once read a personal statement with a cover memo that indicated the applicant recognized that the suggested length was two pages, but there was so much importance to convey that his statement required ten pages. The memo closed with an apology and an assurance that the author had done everything possible to keep the statement brief and on point. The first line of the statement began: "It was a dark and stormy night when I was born…"

Whatever you do, don't do this. Stick to the requirements and don't send law schools anything they don't ask for, even if it is the greatest story ever told. For personal statements and application essays, check out the TLS Guide to Personal Statements.

Letters of Recommendation

Vanderbilt Law School requires that applicants submit at least two letters of recommendation. These letters should ideally be from faculty members at the applicant's undergraduate or graduate school who can speak to the applicant's academic abilities and research skills. If the applicant has been recently employed full-time or serving in the military, letters from supervisors or commanding officers are also acceptable. Finally, employer letters may be submitted instead of academic recommendations if the applicant has been out of school for several years.

Overall, it is best if letters of recommendation are submitted through the CAS letter of recommendation service. However, recommenders can always send their letter directly to the Admissions Office.

Listen to the advice of Dean Morton, as it mirrors the advice given on TLS and elsewhere regarding letters of recommendation:

The best recommendations are written by people who have known the candidate well for a sufficient period and in a capacity to have something to say about [the candidate's] work ethic, honesty, maturity, ingenuity, persistence, intelligence, communication skills, or other attributes important to success in law studies. Letters from people who barely know the applicant are usually not very helpful in assessing these attributes and represent a lost opportunity.

Sometimes, he said, the law school will get a letter that says the applicant requested the letter of recommendation repeatedly, and only after this insistence did the recommender agree to write something. In these cases, you should know that this anecdote might find its way to law schools and that the letter might be only a qualified endorsement.

Suppose you're coming out of a graduate program. In that case, Dean Morton has some good news: "Letters of recommendation from graduate school faculty members are usually detailed and insightful as a product of student-faculty collaboration and close interaction." So, ask your thesis adviser for help, and you may have an excellent endorsement. For additional advice on obtaining letters of recommendation, click here.

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The Wait List

One student said, "Vandy puts tons of people on the wait list, so if you want to go here badly, you need to stay in it for the long haul, even if that means two days into orientation." Further, since the number of wait-list offers varies from year to year, the level of uncertainty can be highly stressful for those who have Vandy as their first choice.

Dean Morton played up this variance and indeterminism:

The number of applicants that accept our offer to be included on the wait list varies from year to year; the number of "active" wait-list applications varies from day to day as the summer progresses and some waitlisted applicants remove their applications from consideration.

In order to get out of admissions purgatory, some steps should be taken. First, be sure to keep in touch with the Office of Admissions. Make certain they have your correct contact information; if you earn any accolades or awards, let them know; and know that if you do get an offer, you'll have to decide relatively quickly.

A first-year student offered some more advice:

Once you're on the wait list, you must keep in constant contact. I would suggest calling once a week, especially right after seat deposit deadlines, just to tell them that you're still interested. Second, you must either interview or re-interview. An interview can be crucial to getting in since Vandy is a very small law school. Make sure you come prepared with good questions and knowledge (all of which can be found on their website).

Finally, literally start asking anyone you know or meet if they have any connection whatever to Vanderbilt Law. I know someone who probably didn't have a realistic shot off the wait list but, because he asked around and found a friend of a friend of a friend who was friends with someone in the admissions office, he was able to have a good word put in and boom, here he sits next to me.

I hope that helps, but the bottom line is, if you want in and you're on the wait list, you need to scratch and crawl your way in.

While Dean Morton might not characterize getting off the wait list as a battle requiring scratching and crawling, he does echo the points that an interview is helpful and regular contact is important.


The law school at Vanderbilt University welcomes applications from J.D. students who wish to transfer for their second and third years of study. The law school only offers a full-time program; no part-time or evening programs are available. Transfer students are an important part of the Vanderbilt community.

Vanderbilt Law School is one of the most prestigious law schools in the United States, and its transfer application process is highly competitive. Transfer applicants are advised to apply as early as possible in order to ensure participation in the complete on- and off-campus interview process/offerings. Depending on the date of application completion and admission, an incoming student may not be able to participate in OCI.

Tuition and Expenses

Vanderbilt Law School is one of the world's premier law schools. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt offers a top-tier legal education with an experienced and internationally renowned faculty. The school provides a rigorous academic experience for its students, preparing them for success in a variety of legal careers.

Vanderbilt Law School tuition for the 2022-2023 academic year is $66,696. This includes tuition for full-time and part-time students. The total cost of attendance for the 2022-2023 academic year is $98,784. This includes tuition, fees, books and supplies, living expenses, and other miscellaneous costs.

Vanderbilt Law School is committed to providing a world-class legal education. The school's faculty is experienced and internationally renowned, and the curriculum is rigorous. Vanderbilt Law School graduates are prepared for success in various legal careers.

Cost of Attendance

Tuition and Estimated Indirect Expenses, 2022-2023
Tuition $66,696
9-month estimates of indirect costs
VU Student Services Fee $582
Law School Programming Fee $700
One time transcript fee| style="text-align: center;" | $100
Student Health Fee $738
Books / Supplies $1,700
Housing $12,910
Meals $6,562
Personal and miscellaneous / Health $5,614
Transportation $1,526
Loan fees $1,656
Total of estimated indirect costs $32,088


  • VLS merit scholarships and need-based grants awarded in the admission process automatically renew each semester the recipient is enrolled in the Law School.
  • VLS does not award conditional scholarships. Students must remain in good academic standing to retain their Law School scholarships or grants. Good academic standing requirements can be found in the Academic Regulations section of the Law School Catalog
  • Federal Direct Loans are available for tuition costs not covered by scholarships/grants as well as for living expenses.

External Scholarships

They maintain a listing of external scholarship opportunities that come to our attention. In addition, school counselors, civic associations, local bar associations, and other organizations may be helpful to identifying scholarship funds for law school.

VLS Loan Repayment Assistance

Vanderbilt Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program pays from 20 to 50 percent of annual loan repayment obligations for up to 10 years for graduates in qualifying public service positions.

Law School Culture

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Dean Guthrie chimed in on the culture at the law school:

I do know that Vanderbilt has a distinctive culture. I would describe it as collegial, collaborative, and friendly. This culture applies not only to the students but also to faculty, staff, and alums. It means that the Law School is a wonderful place to study, work, and visit. The warm cultural environment is palpable in the building.

Vanderbilt has a good, collaborative culture going for it, Guthrie said, "and I think this, more than any other single factor, is our comparative advantage when recruiting both students and faculty."

Nonetheless, grades remain a point of competitiveness among students. One 1L said, "If you work your ass off, you can get that good grade." Students who are at the top of the class are the workhorses. To crack into the all-As club is extremely difficult because of the grading curve, and most students will find themselves smack in the "incredibly tight curve in the middle."

One student who received grades "ranging from B-minus to A," said that the grades corresponded to his efforts in respective classes. "I tried in the classes I liked and didn't in the classes I didn't like." This student said he studied about four hours a day during finals. Many students will say that grades are random, but some say, "you get what you work for, and if you can write well, you will get great grades." A student offers this advice:

The key to success is staying up on your reading and starting your outlines early enough to have time to study when finals come around. Know everything black letter down to the detail and be able to spit it out quickly on the test so that you have time for theoretical and alternative arguments.

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Tolerance at Vandy

For some who have never visited Nashville, the stereotype of the South as intolerant is hovering over the city. In reality, minorities and gays feel welcome in Nashville, and the bar scene is not as segregated as in other urban cities. Nashville is "a big blue dot in an otherwise red state" and may not fit some people's conceptions of what the South is like.

Several students (including a 3L and a former undergraduate) commented extensively on the level of tolerance found at the law school and in the city:

"Our Law Students for Social Justice MLK Day Teach-In yesterday included several discussions on LGBT civil rights. Vandy's OUTLaw chapter runs a number of events during the school year for the student body."

"The gay community in Nashville probably isn't what you'd expect when you think of the Bible Belt. I have never actually hung out with so many members of the gay community in other cities as I have here. [Many] LGBTs originally moved to Nashville to get into the music or arts biz but ended up staying because they felt comfortable here, and they've built up a pretty solid crowd that dominate the city's independent art galleries."

"It's still the South-there's still a lot of socially conservative groups trying to push their private religious views into the public sphere, and the ACLU is still busy pushing for family cohabitation rights and a number of other issues-but if you're potentially interested in working on gay civil rights work during law school that could be a good situation to find yourself in."

Vanderbilt's Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI) Life is a cultural center, a place of affirmation for individuals of all identities, and a resource for information and support about gender and sexuality. Campus Pride gives Vanderbilt four stars and Honor Roll status on its LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index.

The best way to see if any place is a fit for you is to pay that school a visit.



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The student-faculty ratio at Vanderbilt Law School is 8.8:1, meaning that there are 8.8 students per faculty member. This is a decrease from the 2021 student-faculty ratio of 9.3:1. The decrease in the student-faculty ratio is due to an increase in the number of faculty members and a decrease in the number of students. The student-faculty ratio is an important factor to consider when choosing a law school, as it can impact the quality of your education and the amount of individualized attention you receive from professors. Vanderbilt Law School's student-faculty ratio is competitive with other top law schools and indicates that students will receive a high-quality education with plenty of individualized attention from professors.

Vandy's professors are not stacked in one particular area of the law; their interests are across-the-board, which helps those students who want to explore different fields of the law.

Whether or not professors will use the Socratic Method will vary from class to class, and for the most part, professors know how intimidating the law can be. They are there to challenge you, but, most of the time, are not there to flat-out embarrass you. If you go into class each day prepared and with a positive attitude, law school will have a hard time turning you into a ball of stress.

Recently, Vandy has amped up its Distinguished Lecture Series, bringing in prominent lawyers, scholars and judges, including justices O'Connor and Scalia. This lecture series has several different components to it, each of which invites a different sort of scholar, including those who work in international law, health policy, or civil rights advocacy. A full list of the series' components can be found on this page.


Vanderbilt Law School is known for being highly selective, and this is largely due to the scholarly productivity of its faculty. Vanderbilt's faculty are nationally and internationally renowned legal scholars. They approach the study of law from two essential perspectives: an evolving intellectual discipline that demands rigorous scholarly inquiry and reflection and a solid preparation for a high-level professional career. Scholarship and teaching are closely linked at Vanderbilt.

The faculty at Vanderbilt Law School are experts in many different areas of law and other disciplines. This diversity of knowledge and experience allows students to get a well-rounded education that prepares them for success in many fields. Vanderbilt Law School is committed to providing an interdisciplinary education that will prepare students for the ever-changing landscape of the legal field.

In addition to classes offered by our resident faculty, class offerings are enriched each year by adjunct professors who are leading practitioners as well as visiting professors from other leading law schools in the United States and abroad.


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First-year students all take civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, legal writing (for two semesters), property, regulatory state (covering statutes and agency decisions) and torts. One other required course, Life of the Law, introduces students to how to study law and, according to the website, "gives students the skills that will prepare them for their other first year courses." This course is pass/fail.

Second- and third-years are required to take constitutional law, a professional skills course, and professional responsibility; other than that, they have a list of over 100 course titles to fill out the rest of their course of study. Nearly 65% of these upper-level courses feature an enrollment of less than 25 students. Some academic programs (discussed below) are there to help you make decisions, as choosing a handful of classes out of 100 can be a daunting task. Law school staff can help you form a curriculum that is well-aligned with your career goals.

Vanderbilt Law does not rank its students, though each semester, if you score in the top 20% of your class, you earn a spot on the Dean's List. The top 10% of those who graduate will receive Order of the Coif honors.


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Vanderbilt Law School provides a broad and flexible curriculum that allows students to tailor their education to meet their individual needs and interests. In the first year, students take a set of required courses that provide them with the intellectual foundation on which to build their legal education. In the second and third years, students have almost entirely elective coursework, allowing them to choose from various courses, clinics, externships, independent work, and courses outside law school. Students can also pursue specific areas of interest through the law school's special academic programs.

Study Abroad

Speaking of travel abroad, of particular note is the law school's Vanderbilt in Venice program, which allows students to study abroad in a charming Italian city under the guidance of Vanderbilt Law and University of Venice faculty.

It is a six-week summer program that "brings together a small group of law students and four professors to study selected international and comparative law topics." Dean Guthrie tells us that classes are held "in a 500-year-old palace" that has been refitted to include the modern wonders of air-conditioning, a computer lab, and wireless Internet. Students can discuss the law while a gondolier ferries them to and fro, or walk through streets that end in inlets. Vandy students also get a unique perspective during their extended stay in this world-class tourist destination. Venetians are used to honeymooners, so law students are an interesting and welcome addition to residents of the sinking city.

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Joint Degree Programs

Join degree programs are plentiful at Vandy, and for a hefty sum, students can add a veritable alphabet soup to their resumes; an MBA, M.Div. (Master of Divinity), MTS (Master of Theological Studies), M.D., MPP, Ph.D., and M.A. (in Latin American Studies) are all available to interested students.

According to Dean Guthrie, the law school "also allows students with multi-disciplinary interests to design their own joint degree programs." Even if there is no formal program set up, you can make one at Vandy without too much fuss.

Keep in mind, though, that joint degrees are very expensive and time-consuming. They can be valuable, but only if you have a specific, targeted plan in place with a good idea of the payoff.


Many students, in their second or third year and with an open schedule, will choose to work in a clinic for credit. All clinical courses are offered on a pass/fail basis, and students can sign up for one semester or for the entire academic year. The time you spend working on a clinical course will vary, but the clinical experience being a significant time commitment.

Vandy has clinics available in litigation and transactional practice. "Even in the litigation model," Guthrie said, "our students represent clients in civil, criminal, and appellate courts as well as in administrative hearings." This experience looks good to employers, as it shows you have experience developing a relationship with and counseling clients.

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Employment Prospects

JD graduates from Vanderbilt University make $170,000 (median) upon graduation if they work in the private sector. If they go into the public sector, a grad can expect to make $64,000. 60.7% of law graduates from Vanderbilt University go directly to work for law firms, while 21.5% clerk for a judge. 4.3% of graduates go into public interest. 92.5% of Vanderbilt University graduates pass the bar on their first try.


J.D. Class of 2022

(First-Year Students 2019-20)
5,305 applicants
174 students (three first-year sections of 58 students)
48% women
25% minority
23 median age
35 states; Washington, D.C.; China; and Mexico represented | view list |
108 undergraduate schools represented | view list |
8 students (5%) hold advanced degrees: M.A. (2); M.S.(4); M.P.P.; Ph.D.

Experience counts

The majority of the Class of 2022 (63%) graduated college at least one year before entering VLS; 29% were age 25 to 35 at entry. Collectively, the members of the class bring a wealth of experience in a variety of areas. Their backgrounds include business, science, education, technology, service, public policy, and graduate training in a number of fields.

Career Services

Vanderbilt Law School's Career Services program is highly successful in placing its well-trained lawyers in public- and private-sector positions at law firms, government offices, and organizations throughout the United States. Vanderbilt graduates have a wide array of geographic options and professional opportunities due to the school's excellent reputation. Vanderbilt students are highly sought-after by employers for their excellent legal training and the interpersonal and other professional skills they develop during law school.

Quality of Life

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Located on the Vanderbilt University campus in Nashville, Tennessee, the law school combines the advantages of a stimulating university community, a top-tier faculty, a small, carefully selected student body, and a vibrant, livable city.

Known for offering a rigorous academic program in a collegial, supportive atmosphere, Vanderbilt Law School attracts law students and faculty seeking a first-rate academic institution that also affords an excellent quality of life.

Situated on the park-like Vanderbilt University campus, which is a national arboretum, the law school's state-of-the-art building offers an atrium with comfortable study nooks and wireless internet access throughout.

Vanderbilt Law School is located on the campus of Vanderbilt University, next to the Owen Graduate School of Management. In addition to the law school's proprietary resources and services, law students have access to a broad array of campus resources—including the Student Recreation Center, a well-equipped work-out facility that offers a pool, an indoor track, a large weight room, and indoor squash and tennis courts, as well as club and intramural sports. You'll also find ample opportunities to attend arts performances and exhibits and lectures within easy walking distance.

According to a recent graduate, Nashville allows Vanderbilt Law students to reach "that elusive equilibrium of work and play." Though the city offers all of the amenities and activities that a city should offer, it is not so large as to cause the hassles and headaches one would find in a large metropolis.

Musical outlets are everywhere, and there are stretches of bars, clubs, and restaurants spread throughout the city. Although Vanderbilt's campus is near the heart of Nashville's downtown, parking is not that much of a problem. Housing is relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Recently, Vanderbilt's law school building underwent a complete renovation; most students and graduates are impressed and satisfied with the new facilities. Also, because the law school is located on Vanderbilt University's main campus, students can enjoy the university's vast green grounds.

The campus is only about 324 acres, and it is designated as a national arboretum. Most buildings are close together, so once you are on campus, you can easily hop from the business school to the law school to the main library. Dean Guthrie adds to all this, "Princeton Review's annual surveys rank [Vanderbilt Law] in the top five or 10 schools in the nation in terms of our students' classroom experience and quality of life."

Student activities add to the school's reputation, and you can easily find YouTube videos of the Black Law Student Association Talent Show to get a feel for some of the events that make Vanderbilt a unique experience.


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Vanderbilt Law School is a community that values its students and works to ensure that everyone feels like they belong. The school offers intentional programming and communities that create an atmosphere of friendship, respect, and recognition. Vanderbilt takes care of its students and wants them to have the best experience possible.

Current students share the following about finding housing in Nashville:

The law school owns the Barbizon apartments right next to the Career Services building (right across the street from the law school). But they're not the cheapest apartments in the area and they're not nearly as nice as some of the other apartment buildings. Your cheapest option is to look on Craigslist and find a place a few miles away. Some people live in houses out on Granny Smith and pay in the realm of $400 to 500/month but they have a solid 15- to 30-minute commute depending on traffic.

Indeed, students will likely have to decide between saving some money on rent or having to deal with Nashville traffic five days a week. Students continued:

20th & Grand ($$) is the most popular these days for people living right by the law school, followed by Americana ($$), Adelicia ($$$), University Square, Bristol on Broadway, and of course Barbizon. All of them are within four blocks of the law school.

Barbizon's the closest, but it doesn't have covered parking and I generally wouldn't recommend living there if you have other options.

A little more than a mile from school you've got the Gardens at Hillsboro, where a good number of people live (much nicer than Barbizon, though again, no covered parking). Also, the area around campus is mostly residential. You can likely find places within a mile or two that will charge less than the apartment buildings and give you your own garage, porch, and a yard.

The No. 1 most popular complex for law students overall (and particularly the 1Ls) would be the two connected Groves (Hillsboro and Whitworth). They're between 2 and 3 miles from campus and also don't have covered parking, but if you're looking for where most of your classmates will be, that's probably a good target. As an added bonus, a lot of undergrads live there and they've got swimming pools scattered around.

One student commented further on the Americana, saying it "has a great roof deck and it's definitely close to school, though understand you're sacrificing quality as the price goes down." This student lived two miles down the road, right off of the No. 7 bus line, and paid "$650/month for a 3br/2bath with a huge back deck, garage, and fenced in back yard with extra parking for friends." Final remarks on housing follow:

It really depends on what you want out of school. For instance, I am single and my social life revolves around school, so I moved from 2 miles out last year to right across the street from the school. I am paying $200 more a month to do that.

However, if your social life revolves mainly around staying in with a significant other, or hanging out with native Nashvillians in some of the outer neighborhoods, then it makes perfect sense to live farther out and save money.

It is just a huge pain in the butt to drive 15 minutes to the law school to meet up with people to cab downtown. … I know some people who do that, but I personally would hate it. Because I am so tied to law school in every aspect of my life, I decided to live close by. I may regret it when I am paying off loans but it is only about a $4,000 difference in the long run.

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The "It" City Nashville is one of the top cities to move to or visit in the United States. It was named National Geographic’s #1 travel destination in the world in June 2022.

In Nashville, strip malls are popular but they are hardly offensive to the eye, as the city maintains a good balance between wide, well-manicured streets hemmed in by businesses and a multitude of winding roads that cut through narrow, tree-lined neighborhoods. Driving is king in Nashville, so if you lack a car and are too far to walk from campus, chances are you'll likely be carpooling or learning the bus routes.

Dean Morton says it is "an ideal location for law school with both federal and state courts and agencies, large national firms and small boutiques, nonprofits, the entertainment, and healthcare industries, and it is a sophisticated and livable city that offers a great quality of life." The metropolitan area has about 1.5 million residents, but there is enough space between houses and buildings so that the city maintains its small-town feel. Music is prevalent, people are nice, football is a beloved pastime and the restaurants, greenways, and countryside of Tennessee are all nearby. Students tend to be surprised, as this1L says:

I love Nashville! I was skeptical before I came to visit, but after living here for a couple of months I can't believe I ever doubted it. I'm not into country music either, and I still love it!

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Country music, dueling piano bars, karaoke, and exciting nightlife are all integral to the city. Students have the Grand Ole Opry to visit, can go to the home of Elvis a few hours away in Memphis, and can enjoy the city that brought Dolly Parton and hundreds of other country stars to world renown. Note that Nashville is home to the Country Music Hall of Fame; there is no more fitting place to have such a tribute to the genre.

One visiting student had some qualms about the city:

What I didn't love [about it]: Nashville's small. Makes Boston look like a behemoth. Definitely would need a car. And Vandy (from my amateur perspective) didn't seem to be in the most going-on part of town. West End Avenue wasn't gorgeous. And there's no MLB team.

Nashville and Southern culture, for many outsiders, takes some getting used to. One third-year recommended embracing the honky-tonk nature of the city-where else can you see "Kenny Chesney and Kid Rock drunk and jumping on stage to sing together?"


Dean Guthrie said the law school has "50 active student organizations. Large, well-established, and popular student organizations include the Legal Aid Society, the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), the Women Law Student Association (WLSA), the Entertainment and Sports Law Society, the Law & Business Society, the International Law Society, the Federalist Society, and ACS."

Vanderbilt Law also has three academic publications: Vanderbilt Law Review, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, and Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law. There is also the Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review, published in conjunction with the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C.

Membership on a law school's primary law review is coveted; accordingly, becoming a member of the Vanderbilt Law Review is very competitive. Students are selected in the spring of their first year. There is a case comment competition after students take their final exams of the year, and students are chosen based on their score from this competition along with their first-year GPA.

If you find yourself holding a position on any journal, chances are your duties will include cite-checking articles and writing editorial notes for the journal.

Contact Information

Vanderbilt University Law School
Admissions Office
131 21st Ave. South
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 322-6452


Established 1874
Location Nashville, TN
Dean Chris Guthrie
2022 US News Ranking 17th
LSAT Median Score 169
GPA Median Score 3.89
Bar Passage Rate 92% (2022)
Employment Rate 82% (2022)
Cost $66,696
Average Debt $141,854
Application Deadline April 1, 2023

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Interview: Chris Guthrie, Dean of the Vanderbilt University Law School
Interview: G. Todd Morton, Assistant Dean and Dean of Admissions for Vanderbilt University Law School Forum: Vandy 2L Taking Question