The Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary or the William and Mary law school is a public research university located in the city of Williamsburg in Virginia. It is the oldest law school in the United States and can count several American presidents and lawmakers among its alumni. William and Mary law school ranking is quite high among the top law schools in the country and here we will discuss what makes the law school one of the best.
Due to its age and significance, William and Mary law school has been a pioneer in American law, and a home of many firsts in US higher education. Although a prestigious institution, many other law schools have popped up over the years that are now ranked higher on lists of the best law schools in the US made by various publications, William and Mary still hold a certain gravitas in their name and they still have high standards that they adhere to.
The William And Mary Law School Rankings will depend on what metric is used and what publication makes the list. Year by year it also changes a bit, but generally, it will stay around the same range. Here we will be looking at William and Mary law school rankings over a few years to give you some idea of where the university stands among some of the best law schools in the States.
Before we look at William and Mary law school ranking, it is important to establish a bit of context with a bit of History and their parent institution the William and Mary College.
William And Mary Law School
Before going into the William and Mary law school ranking, we will take a brief look into their history. The William & Mary school of law is officially known as The Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary. It is the oldest law school in the United States, founded 242 years ago in 1779. It is part of the College of William & Mary, which is the second oldest institution of higher education in the US (the oldest being Harvard). It is recognized as one of the best law schools in Virginia which is one of the reasons that makes William and Mary law school ranking higher.
A Short History
The School’s creation was at the behest of the then governor of the state of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson. This was during the reorganization of the College of William & Mary, from the former Royal institution under the British, into the first University in the United States. The American Law professor and Declaration of Independence signatory to George Wythe were appointed chair of law for the College. The school was one of its kind and you can imagine where William and Mary law school ranking would be if there was any ranking system back then.
College Of William And Mary
The Marshall-Wythe School of Law is part of the broader College of William and Mary. It is a public research university founded in 1693 in Williamsburg, Virginia. It takes its name from King William III and Queen Mary II who wrote the letters of a patent that decreed its creation. It can count several early US presidents, lawmakers, and founding fathers among its alumni, including Thomas Jefferson himself. As such it has earned the nickname of “The Alma Mater of the Nation”.
It became a full University in 1779 with the creation of its graduate programs in Law and Medicine, although it still retains its title of “college” to this day, even with it being a top research university. Today it hosts a variety of undergraduate programs, as well as many graduate programs, and four professional schools. This includes their schools of the Arts & Sciences, School of Business, The previously mentioned School of Law, The School of Education, and School of Marine Science.
In 1985, Richard Moll included William & Mary in his book as one of the “Public Ivies”. That being a public University that provides an Ivy League collegiate experience. At the time of writing this, the current William and Mary student population is 6,236 undergraduates and 2,703 graduate students enrolled for this academic year.
William & Mary was also recognized as a top producer of volunteers for the independent agency of the Peace Corps for the 12th consecutive year in 2020, with 46 William & Mary alumni serving in the organization. This prestigious reputation no doubt affects the William and Mary law school ranking that we will see later.
William And Mary Law School Campus
The William and Mary location is in Williamsburg, Virginia. The broader College of William and Mary covers an area of 1,200 acres or 490 hectares and is notable for its beautiful scenery, Georgian Architecture, and picturesque landscapes. The publication Travel+Leisure described William & Mary as “one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States” in 2011.
Among its buildings, the college includes the oldest college building in continuous use in the United States, the Sir Christopher Wren Building. For a time it was referred to simply as “The College” as it was the only academic building in the college until 1723 with the creation of the Bafferton building. It is now also a National Historic Landmark. They also have off-campus locations such as Gloucester Point for the School of Marine Sciences, and Washington, D.C.
Most of the main campus is made up of woodlands and the artificially created body of water that is Lake Matoaka. The college has over the years championed a stance of preserving the natural beauty and environment of the campus, instilling a sense of stewardship for nature. The forested areas are accessible via trails that run across the campus.
The William and Mary law school buildings are located in an area a little outside of the contiguous campus of the rest of the college. It is located near the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center, about four blocks away from the Old campus and Wren building.
William And Mary Law School Ranking
In the law school ranking 2021 of US News and World Report, the William and Mary Law school ranking was placed at number 35. It holds 35th place tied with another law school, the Washington and Lee University School of law. The US News and World Report rankings are the most famous law school rankings and easiest to find online, however like previously mentioned there are other publications. For example, the TFE Times places William & Mary at number 30 in the USA.
Additionally, if we consider certain metrics we can also see the William and Mary law school ranking changed up a bit. For example, if they are measured just by student credentials (LSAT Scores and GPAs) they would rank at number 26. Or if we were to rank them based on the number of times their law reviews and journals are cited they would be significantly higher, at number 19 among US law schools.
Even if we go back to the previously cited publication, the US News and World Report. Under their specialty rankings, they are placed differently. William & Mary places 18th in Constitutional law and Criminal law. This is because different schools have different focuses. Of course, the degrees offered may be the same, but depending on their staff, their history, and their connections, they may have different fortes that they are better at instilling in their graduates.
A prospective law student would do well to look deeper into the context and nuances of what a school has to offer when making their choice of where to apply rather than simply focusing on the ranking. Of course, these rankings aren’t everything hence we will look to explain a bit about the William and Mary Law school curriculum, the performance of their students, and how one might try to apply there.
William And Mary Law Ranking – School Curriculum
The William and Mary course list for their law school includes two full-time degree programs. These are the Juris Doctor (J.D.) program, and the LL.M. Degree in American Law. Students that also wish to learn about Business may get a Combination Degree program in cooperation with the Mason School of business.
Juris Doctor Program
The Juris Doctor degree program is a three-year-long course that provides the graduate with a professional doctorate in Law and allows them to take the Bar exams to be qualified to practice law in a particular US state or Jurisdiction. It is one of several doctor of law degrees that are given in common law countries like the USA, Canada, and Australia.
LL.M. is short for the Latin “Magister Legum” or Master of Law. This is an advanced postgraduate degree that can be pursued either by those with a professional degree in law or an academic undergraduate degree in law. The program offered at William & Mary is particularly geared towards foreign law students and attorneys that wish to learn US law, in the increasingly globally competitive legal profession.
In the school’s programs, they implement simulated legal education initiatives. This includes a 2-year long Legal Skills Program. This works by grouping students into simulated law firms and presents cases for students to tackle that try to be as close to what they would encounter in real life as possible.
William And Mary’s Average GPA
The William and Mary GPA median sits at 3.6. This is based on their class of 2023, which was accepted into the college on the 17th of August, 2020. This class included 229 students in total. The average median GPA over several years is around 3.8. According to PublicLegal, this places William and Mary law school at 11th place in Median Undergraduate GPA in US law schools making it a very competitive environment for prospective applicants.
However, it would seem that they put more stock into the undergraduate GPAs of their applicants, as it is only 36th in terms of Median LSAT of applicants, so that is something to keep in mind. Overall, William and Mary average GPA sits at the top among the best of the law universities in the country.
William And Mary Law School Acceptance Rate
Considering the William and Mary law school ranking and their illustrious history, this reflects in their acceptance rate, making it hard for applicants to get in. According to PublicLegal, the acceptance rate of applicants at William and Mary law school is 36.1%. This puts it at 57th place in terms of student selectivity. So perhaps not the hardest to get into, but difficult nonetheless.
William And Mary Enrollment Process
The application deadline of the William and Mary law school ends on the 1st of March every year. Applicants looking to take a full-time degree program are subject to an application fee of $85. Like in any law school application, it is important to have a good GPA from your undergraduate course as well as good LSAT scores to increase your chances of being admitted into the college.
The William and Mary Law school is a public law school and therefore has tuitions that are lower than that of private law schools. The tuition for full-time students in-state is $35,000, and $44,000 for students coming from out-of-state. For what the William & Mary law school ranking is, this fee is relatively lower than other universities on a similar footing.
So to conclude, the William and Mary law school ranking in the US News and World Report for 2021 is 35, tied with the Washington and Lee University School of law. However, like mentioned earlier, rankings are not everything, and if looking at it from different metrics, the William and Mary law school ranking can be radically different because of the unique specialties that it has.
The university is one of the oldest harboring centuries of tradition and educational culture behind its stone walls. It has produced some of the brightest minds in the country while still instilling wisdom and knowledge in those that are currently enrolled. The university campus is something that provides a great student experience beyond education and learning. It creates an environment that many students look towards when applying to universities. The William and Mary law school ranking makes it one of the top law schools in the country, not only because of the education provided but also the alumni it has successfully produced.