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Academic Rules and Regulations
I. Academic Policies and Procedures
The Academic Policies contain current information regarding the Law School’s requirements, policies, and procedures. For additional information, consult the Academic Services/Student Records Office in 107 Slaughter Hall. These requirements, policies, and procedures may be changed at any time within the student’s term of residence and apply to all law students, including graduate and dual-degree students. These requirements, policies, and procedures may be waived (if waivable) only by the assistant dean for academic services or the assistant dean for student affairs. Appeal of any decision by an assistant dean may be made only to the faculty/student Academic Review Committee.
In addition to the Academic Policies, all law students are responsible for complying with the policies listed in the Graduate Record, a University publication available on the University’s website. The Graduate Record has important information on the University of Virginia, tuition, fees, financial aid, regulations governing graduate law and dual-degree programs, policies that apply to all University students and the honor system. NOTE: jurisdictions oftentimes impose eligibility requirements for bar admission beyond those required by these Academic Policies, and students are therefore strongly advised to study and adhere to the eligibility requirements of any jurisdiction where they may seek bar admission.
In accordance with American Bar Association standards, regular and punctual class attendance is part of each student’s required work in courses. While instructors are authorized to require a higher standard of attendance, at a minimum students are required to attend 80 percent of class sessions. Poor attendance may be taken into account by the instructor in any manner for grading purposes.
NOTE: See the attendance policy governing January Term and Short Courses section VI.I and VI.N.
The course instructor shall notify the Student Records Office when a student is frequently absent from class. If it is determined that the student’s absence from class is excessive, then the student shall not be permitted to complete the work for the course, shall not receive any academic credit for work performed in the course and shall receive the grade of WF (Withdrawn Failing). The grade of WF does not have exclusionary significance, nor does it preclude the student from re-enrolling in the course in a subsequent semester.
Any member of the Law School community (faculty, student or staff) who has reason to believe that a student is frequently absent from classes in general should inform the Student Records Office. If it is determined that the student’s absence from classes is excessive, the assistant dean for academic services may deny residence status for that semester, or may require withdrawal from the Law School.
B. CLASS RANK
The Law School does not use or disclose class rank except for limited purposes, such as determination of specific academic awards
C. COMPLAINT POLICY
The Law School is committed to addressing student concerns that directly implicate its program of legal education and its compliance with the ABA’s accreditation standards. In accordance with the University’s Student Academic Grievance Policy, any student who believes that an academic decision (as defined by that policy) violates the University’s or Law School’s academic policies may either consult with the vice dean or file an academic grievance with the vice dean. Any student who is concerned about the Law School’s compliance with the ABA’s accreditation standards may submit a signed, written statement explaining the concern and identifying the relevant ABA standard(s) to the assistant dean for student affairs. The assistant dean will work with a review committee consisting of the vice dean, the senior associate dean for administration, and other Law School personnel, as appropriate, to address the concern within a reasonable period of time. The assistant dean will notify the student in writing about the review committee’s resolution of the concern. A copy of all such concerns and their resolutions will be kept in the dean’s office until the next ABA accreditation visit.
D. CONCURRENT ENROLLMENT AT OTHER INSTITUTIONS
While enrolled in the Law School, no student may be enrolled concurrently in academic courses, as part of a degree program or otherwise, at another institution without prior approval by the Curriculum Committee. Exception: Students enrolled in external collaborative programs do not need Curriculum Committee approval.
E. DEGREE REQUIREMENTS
JURIS DOCTOR (J.D.) DEGREE REQUIREMENTS: Candidates for the J.D. degree must satisfy the following to earn their degrees. NOTE: In accordance with American Bar Association standards, the course of study for the J.D. degree must be completed no later than 84 months after a student has commenced law study at Virginia or another law school from which the student transferred, except in extraordinary circumstances.
- REQUIRED COURSES In addition to the basic first-year required courses (Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Legal Research and Writing, Property and Torts), J.D. degree candidates must successfully complete a professional ethics course and
- pass at least one professional skills course, if entering the law school as a first-year student prior to Fall 2016, or
- pass at least one professional skills course, if entering the law school as a transfer student prior to Fall 2017; or
- obtain at least six (6) credits from one or more professional skills courses if entering as a first-year student in Fall 2016 or later; or
- obtain at least six (6) credits from one or more professional skills courses if entering as a transfer student in Fall 2017 or later.
- ACADEMIC RECORD During each academic year of enrollment all degree candidates must earn a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.7 and accumulate fewer than three exclusion points (see section I.I).
- CREDITS J.D. degree candidates must successfully earn a minimum of 86 semester credits. Typically, students complete 30-32 credits during the first year and 54-56 credits during the second and third years. At least 64 of the 86 credits must be in courses that require attendance in regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction. Additional information about the courses that satisfy this requirement may be obtained from the Student Records Office. See Section I.P for the Law School’s credit hour policy.
- RESIDENCY J.D. degree candidates must complete six semesters in residence. A semester in residence is one in which a student enrolls in a minimum of 12 credits toward the degree and receives grades of D or better for at least nine of those 12 credits. Transfer students must complete at least 24 hours of classroom study at an accredited law school prior to enrolling at Virginia, for which they are awarded two semesters in residence at entrance.
- WRITING REQUIREMENT In accordance with American Bar Association standards, all J.D. degree candidates must satisfy the Law School’s upper-level writing requirement by completing at least one substantial research paper after the first year (see section I.M).
- CONDUCT All degree candidates must conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the Law School’s academic and non-academic student conduct requirements (see section VII).
MASTER OF LAWS (LL.M.) DEGREE REQUIREMENTS: Candidates for the LL.M. degree must satisfy the following to earn their degrees. NOTE: LL.M. degree candidates intending to sit the New York bar exam must satisfy separate New York bar course requirements (consult the Graduate Studies Office for details).
- ACADEMIC RECORD During each academic year of enrollment all degree candidates must earn a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.7 and accumulate fewer than three exclusion points (see section I.I).
- CREDITS LL.M. degree candidates must successfully earn a minimum of 24 semester credits. See Section I.P for the Law School’s credit hour policy.
- RESIDENCY LL.M. degree candidates must complete two semesters in residence. A semester in residence is one in which a student enrolls in a minimum of 12 credits towards the degree and receives grades of D or better for at least nine of those 12 credits.
- WRITING REQUIREMENT LL.M.degree candidates must satisfy the Law School’s upper-level writing requirement by completing at least one substantial research paper (see section I.M).
- CONDUCT All degree candidates must conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the Law School’s academic and non-academic student conduct requirements (see section VII).
DOCTOR OF JURIDICAL SCIENCE (S.J.D.) DEGREE REQUIREMENTS: Candidates for the S.J.D. degree must satisfy the following to earn their degrees. NOTE: In accordance with Law School policy, the course of study for the S.J.D. degree must be completed within five years of admittance to candidacy.
- CREDITS S.J.D. degree candidates must successfully earn a minimum of 30 semester credits. These credits are earned through completion of the student’s first year study plan, dissertation work in residence, and attendance at the S.J.D. colloquium. Please note that S.J.D. students who pay tuition at the research rate may not enroll in classes for credit, but may audit up to two classes with the instructor’s permission.
- ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS S.J.D. degree candidates must complete a dissertation approved by the Graduate Committee and successfully defend the dissertation in an oral examination. The dissertation must make an original contribution to legal literature and demonstrate mastery of the principles of scholarly research and critical analysis. It is expected that the dissertation will be publishable as a book or a series of law review articles. The oral examination is held by a committee consisting of the dissertation supervisor and two other faculty members. After the examination, the committee will report to the faculty its opinion of the candidate’s work and fitness for the degree. The dissertation may be submitted and the oral exam held at any time within five years of the student’s admission to the S.J.D. program. This period may be extended if the student shows good cause submitted in writing to the Graduate Studies Committee.
- CONDUCT All degree candidates must conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the Law School’s academic and non-academic student conduct requirements (see section VII).
F. DISABILITY ACCOMMODATION
- NOTIFICATION AND APPLICATION
A student who believes that he or she has a disability or other condition warranting accommodation for academic programs or exams at the Law School should notify the assistant dean for student affairs. This notification is separate from any communication with the Admissions Office or during the admissions process. Requests may be submitted at any time, but should be made as early as possible to ensure access to classroom work and exams. Requests specifically seeking accommodation for exams should be submitted at least 60 days before the beginning of the exam period. It may not be feasible to evaluate the disability and implement appropriate accommodations in fewer than 60 days, and hence any accommodation offered might be useful only for the following semester’s exams.
All requests for accommodation and related information will be confidential, except to the extent necessary to evaluate the student’s condition and determine and implement an accommodation. Students seeking accommodations for disabilities must submit a written request to the assistant dean for student affairs. This request should be accompanied by any documentation the student has, such as copies of previously compiled medical or psychological tests, evaluations or diagnoses. If prior psychoeducational testing reports and/or medical reports are not available, the request should also include the Verification of Disability Form available on the Student Disability Access Center’s web page. For conditions of which the student has previously been aware, any accommodations offered by other institutions, such as schools and undergraduate colleges, should be described and documented.
- TESTING AND EVALUATION
The assistant dean for student affairs or the faculty Disability Accommodation Committee may seek the guidance of the University’s Student Disability Access Center with respect to any request for accommodation. The Student Disability Access Center may request additional testing, assessments or evaluations.
- IMPLEMENTATION AND REVIEW
If the assistant dean for student affairs determines that an accommodation is appropriate, she will promptly prepare a written plan of accommodation. Reasonable accommodations in academic programs that do not impose undue burdens will be implemented, with the costs borne by the Law School or the University. An academic accommodation may be made for a limited period of time, in which case additional documentation will need to be provided by the student to renew it, or may be made permanent until the graduation of the student. The student will be provided with the written plan of accommodation.
The goal will be to structure a plan acceptable to the student. If, however, the action taken does not address the student’s disability in a manner that the student believes reasonably meets the needs of the student, the student may request reconsideration of the decision or modification of the planned accommodation by appeal to the Disability Accommodation Committee, and may offer new information or explanation in support of the request. The committee may seek the assistance of consultants, such as experts or evaluators, and may require additional testing and/or evaluation. The student may request to meet with the committee prior to its final deliberations (from which the student and others not on the committee will be excused). A student may seek review of a decision of the committee by the full faculty, which will hear the matter if the assistant dean or at least one member of the faculty committee dissented from the committee’s action.
If the student accepts a plan of accommodation, the assistant dean for student affairs will inform the student’s instructors of the accommodation and the reasons for it only to the extent necessary to assure effective implementation of the accommodation.
The assistant dean for student affairs and the Disability Accommodation Committee shall have authority to modify any Law School rule or course requirement to provide an accommodation. The complete waiver of any Law School rule or course requirement must be presented to the full faculty for its approval.
G. ELIGIBLE FACULTY SUPERVISORS
See Eligible Faculty Supervisors online.
Students may not engage in employment in excess of what is compatible with a full-time commitment to the study of law. No full-time student may be employed for more than 20 hours per week or receive financial compensation or financial award for activities requiring more than 20 hours per week. When a student is self-employed, or works at or performs other compensated activity other than at an hourly wage, the assistant dean for academic services shall decide whether the work or compensated activity is excessive. Such work/activity may be deemed excessive even if the person is engaged in fewer than 20 hours per week. The test is one of compatibility with a full-time commitment to the study of law. In making this determination, the assistant dean may consider the responsibilities of the employment or compensated activity; the rate of pay; the extent to which the student has control over the obligations attached to, and the timing of, participation in his or her employment or compensated activity; and other factors relating to the burden likely to arise from the employment. Failure to observe this regulation will result in loss of residency status for the semester in which the student is in violation.
I. GRADING SYSTEM
Faculty policy requires that instructors award grades in each course to a mean that will be enforced by the vice dean of the Law School. Instructors should ensure that grades have an adequate distribution around this mean.
GRADES Under the current grading system, there are 10 possible grades that can be used by the faculty in evaluating performance in courses and seminars (including Independent Research and the graded portion of Externships) : A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, D and F. In a few select courses, the grades S (Satisfactory) and U (Unsatisfactory), or CR (Credit) and NC (No Credit) are awarded. No credit will be awarded for a course in which a student receives an F, NC, U, W (Withdrawn) or WF (Withdrawn Failing) grade. The grades U and NC are treated as F grades for all purposes.
NOTE: University and Law School policy states that any grade, once submitted, can be changed only in the event of a clerical error in calculation (adding up raw scores incorrectly) or transcription. The Law School does not entertain appeals or grievances of the faculty’s academic evaluation of students.
NUMERICAL GRADE POINT VALUE FOR LETTER GRADES
|A+ = 4.3
||B+ = 3.3
||C+ = 2.3
||F = 0.0
|A = 4.0
||B = 3.0
||C = 2.0
|A- = 3.7
||B- = 2.7
||C- = 1.0
J. LEAVES OF ABSENCE & WITHDRAWALS
When a student’s course of study is interrupted, the interruption is categorized as either a leave of absence or a withdrawal. In general, a leave of absence is intended for a student who is in good standing, who needs to suspend his or her enrollment for a short period of time (for example, due to a medical condition), and who intends to return to the Law School immediately following the leave of absence. By contrast, a program withdrawal (as opposed to a course withdrawal addressed by Academic Policy VI.D) is generally intended for other situations, such as when a student needs to suspend his or her enrollment for a longer period of time or does not intend to return to the Law School. The process for readmission following a leave of absence is less demanding than following a withdrawal.
- Leaves of Absence From Degree Program
- Description and Conditions
The assistant dean for student affairs has the authority to grant or deny a request for a leave of absence. A student who is in good standing and has completed one semester of law school (including completion of all examinations) may submit a written petition requesting a leave of absence to the assistant dean for student affairs. The petition must be submitted prior to the start of classes for the semester during which leave is desired or, if the semester has already begun, on or before the last day of classes for that semester. The petition for a leave of absence should provide an explanation for the reasons for the requested leave and the expected length of the leave. If the leave of absence is not granted, the student may instead withdraw from the Law School pursuant to Section J.2.
A student may be granted only one leave of absence, and any further absence shall be considered to be a withdrawal pursuant to Section J.2. A leave of absence is normally granted for no more than one year; under no circumstances will a leave of absence be granted for more than two years.
A student granted a leave of absence after the add/drop period has ended for a given semester will receive W grades in all of his or her courses. NOTE: Any grades already posted for the semester will be converted to W grades.
Any student seeking a leave of absence must meet with the director of financial aid as a condition of approval from the assistant dean for student affairs. The meeting may be held in person or telephonically. A leave of absence shall not be granted until all amounts due to the Law School are paid in full. Any student on a leave of absence must continue to abide by the Law School’s and the University’s student conduct requirements. The assistant dean for student affairs may impose additional conditions upon which the leave is granted.
A student who has satisfied all of the conditions of his or her leave of absence may request readmission to the Law School by submitting a written request for readmission to the assistant dean for student affairs by April 1 for fall admission or October 1 for spring admission. The assistant dean for student affairs will provide the student with the relevant form and may request additional information or documentation in support of the readmission request. The student must meet any additional conditions that are deemed warranted by the assistant dean of student affairs upon return to the Law School.
A student who has failed to comply with one or more conditions of his or her leave of absence or who does not return to the Law School following a leave of absence will be deemed to have voluntarily withdrawn, and any readmission will be governed by the provisions of Section J.2, not section J.1.
- Withdrawals From Degree Program
There are four types of withdrawal—(a) voluntary withdrawal, (b) administrative withdrawal, (c) withdrawal (exclusion) due to academic deficiency, and (d) required withdrawal—each of which is described below. The process for readmission after withdrawal is described in section (e).
- Voluntary Withdrawal
A student who wishes to withdraw voluntarily from the Law School must submit a written notification to the assistant dean for student affairs. A student who withdraws after a semester has begun must do so on or before the last day of classes for that semester. A student who withdraws after the add/drop period has ended will receive W grades in all of his or her courses. NOTE: Any grades already posted for the semester will be converted to W grades.
- Administrative Withdrawal
A student who ceases attending the Law School without an approved leave of absence or voluntary withdrawal will be administratively withdrawn and will be assigned F grades in his or her courses for that semester.
- Withdrawal (Exclusion) Due to Academic Deficiency
Degree candidates must meet two standards during each academic year (August-May) of enrollment to remain in good academic standing:
- They must earn a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.7.
- They must accumulate fewer than three exclusion points. D grades earn one exclusion point; F, NC and U grades earn two exclusion points. The number of credit hours for a particular course will not be considered in calculating exclusion points because the relevant consideration is the number of independent faculty judgments about a student’s performance and not the number of hours per week that a course meets.
Students are evaluated for withdrawal (exclusion) as follows:
- Students who fail to earn a minimum GPA of 2.7 during an academic year will be withdrawn (excluded).
- Students who accumulate three or more exclusion points during a semester or academic year will be withdrawn (excluded) at the end of that semester. Students who accumulate three or more exclusion points during an academic year will be withdrawn (excluded) at the conclusion of that academic year.
- Students who accumulate three or more exclusion points or a GPA of less than 2.7 during their final academic year will not be awarded a degree and will be withdrawn (excluded).
Readmission after withdrawal (exclusion) due to academic deficiency is granted only in exceptional cases.
- Required Withdrawal
The Law School reserves the right to require the withdrawal of any student who, in the opinion of the faculty, is not profiting or is not likely to profit by the instruction offered or whose conduct fails to comply with the Law School’s academic and non-academic student conduct requirements. The faculty has delegated the authority to make such determinations to the Student Conduct Committee under the procedures outlined in Section VII.
Readmission after required withdrawal is not permitted.
Readmission after Withdrawal
A student may petition for readmission after withdrawal as long as such readmission is consistent with the Law School’s degree requirements, in particular the requirement regarding the length of the course of study described in Section I.E. Readmission after withdrawal (exclusion) due to academic deficiency is granted only in exceptional cases. Readmission after required withdrawal is not permitted.
A student who withdraws from the Law School prior to the completion of at least one semester (including completion of all examinations) and who wishes to resume his or her studies must reapply for admission through the Admissions Office in accordance with the deadlines and procedures set by that office.
A student who withdraws from the Law School after the completion of one semester (including completion of all examinations) and who wishes to resume his or her studies must petition the Academic Review Committee for readmission by April 1 for fall admission and by October 1 for spring admission. Any petition for readmission shall be prepared in the form required by the Academic Review Committee. Absent extraordinary circumstances, a student must wait at least three months from the time of the withdrawal before submitting a petition for readmission.
The Law School reserves the right to impose additional conditions upon any student seeking readmission after withdrawal.
K. SUMMER COURSES AT OTHER LAW SCHOOLS
Students may enroll in law courses during the summer at ABA-approved law schools subject to the following:
1) The assistant dean for academic services must approve in advance the school attended and the courses taken. Approval will be granted only when extenuating circumstances prevail, such as personal or academic hardship. Examples of acceptable hardship are: insufficient credits earned during the academic year due to illness, poor academic performance or financial hardship requiring the student to work part-time.
2) Courses taken must be comparable to offerings in the curriculum at the University of Virginia School of Law (Virginia) in both depth and substance, although the actual subject matter may differ from offerings available at Virginia.
3) Students are expected to attend a law school of comparable quality. If that is not possible in the area where the student is located, the student must attend the best available institution in that area, although that fact alone will not ensure its approval; all requests will be considered on an individual basis.
4) Students may not enroll in courses at the school visited that duplicate courses completed at Virginia.
5) Students who have received an F grade in a course at Virginia will not be allowed to transfer credit for that course from another law school.
6) No summer abroad program will be approved, including those sponsored by ABA-approved law schools.
7) A maximum of six semester credits may be undertaken in summer school.
8) The number of credits undertaken may not exceed the number of weeks in the summer school session (e.g., not more than three credits may be completed in three weeks).
9) Only grades of C (or its equivalent) or better earned at the school attended will be credited toward the Virginia degree. Pass/fail grades will be accepted for courses graded only on a pass/fail basis.
10) Summer school grades are not included in the calculation of Virginia grade point averages or in the consideration of Virginia honors.
11) Students must be enrolled in at least 12 credits per semester during the regular academic year, regardless of the number of credits completed in summer school.
12) Regardless of the number of credits completed in summer school, students must complete six residency semesters to earn the J.D. degree. Summer course work may not be used to accelerate a student’s graduation date.
13) Special limitations apply to summer school students holding outside employment as follows:
a. Students enrolled in courses at the rate of one credit per week of summer school (i.e., three credits in three weeks, six credits in six weeks) may work 10 hours per week.
b. Students enrolled in courses at the rate of one credit per two weeks of summer school (i.e., three credits in six weeks, six credits in 12 weeks) may work 20 hours per week.
c. Students enrolled in courses at the rate of one credit per three weeks of summer school (i.e., three credits in nine weeks) may work 40 hours per week.
L. TRANSFER STUDENTS
All transfer students, including transfers into the JD program from the Law School’s LLM program, are responsible for complying with Virginia policies and procedures, including degree requirements. Transfer students can be awarded a maximum of 32 semester credits and two residency semesters at entrance. Credit will not be awarded for work taken in a summer study abroad program or for work experience at their prior schools. While transfer students are eligible for Order of the Coif membership, their grades at their prior schools will not be used in considering their eligibility. Questions about transfer credits, degree requirements or other academic issues should be addressed to the assistant dean for academic services.
Students awarded two residency semesters at entrance may not participate in full-time externships, exchange programs or other semester/yearlong study abroad programs and may not visit away at another law school. Transfer students interested in dual-degree programs should discuss the possibilities with the assistant dean for academic services.
M. UPPER-LEVEL WRITING REQUIREMENT
In accordance with American Bar Association standards, all J.D. degree candidates must satisfy the Law School’s upper-level writing requirement by completing at least one substantial research paper during law school. J.D. students may not satisfy the upper-level writing requirement during their first year of law school. LL.M. degree candidates also must satisfy the Law School’s upper-level writing requirement as part of their degree requirements. Briefs, a series of papers or team-written papers may not be used to satisfy the writing requirement.
Students may satisfy the writing requirement as follows:
- Successfully completing a substantial research paper in a Law School semester-long or yearlong course included on the Approved Writing Requirement Course List.
- Successfully completing an independent research project (see section VI.H).
- Successfully completing a substantial research paper by “special request” in a Law School semester-long or yearlong course not included on the Approved Writing Requirement Course List. This option requires students to complete and submit a Writing Requirement Intent Form by the end of the fifth week of the semester in which the research paper is to be submitted. Contact the Student Records Office for details.
- Dual-degree students may satisfy the writing requirement by writing a substantial research paper on a law-related topic in a course taken in the other school or department — either at UVA or at another institution approved for participation in Virginia’s dual-degree program — provided that a resident Law School faculty member certifies that the written work meets the Law School’s standards for the writing requirement. In no case will this approval result in additional course credit; the certification relates solely to satisfaction of the upper-level writing requirement. This option applies only to work completed as part of the dual-degree program. Undergraduate papers, papers completed in other graduate programs, briefs written over the summer while employed and the like are expressly excluded from satisfying the writing requirement. For more information about this option, contact the assistant dean for academic services.
WRITING REQUIREMENT STANDARD
The expectation is that the written work will be typed, doubled-spaced and a minimum of 7,500 words, footnotes included. However, this is intended only as a guideline. Final determination of appropriate requirements is left to the judgment of the course instructor/supervising faculty member. Students should arrange with the course instructor/supervising faculty member to submit an outline, abstract, first draft or other mutually agreeable research plan for comment prior to submitting the final version of the paper.
For the semester in which a student intends to satisfy the writing requirement, it is the student’s responsibility to (1) timely enroll in a course designated as satisfying this graduation requirement in the online Current Courses listing. A student in such a course need not submit an intent form to the Student Records Office; OR (2) timely submit the required and completed forms with the Student Records Office to enroll in an Independent Research project, OR (3) timely submit a completed, approved and signed Writing Requirement Intent Form to the Student Records Office no later than the end of the fifth week of the semester, OR (4) timely submit a completed, approved and signed Dual Degree Substantial Research Paper form to the Student Records Office no later than the end of the fifth week of the semester. At the conclusion of the semester, the Law School’s faculty advisor for the Dual Degree Program will be asked to certify that the paper meets the upper-level writing requirement standard.
Every student should be certain that his or her understanding of what is required to meet the writing requirement coincides with that of the course instructor/supervising faculty member.
N. VISITING AT OTHER LAW SCHOOLS
Students seeking permission to visit away at another ABA-approved law school must petition the assistant dean for student affairs. Approval will be granted only when the student’s continued presence in the Charlottesville area places an exceptional hardship on the student. An example of a qualifying circumstance would be the onset of a severe illness of a close family member that requires the student’s presence outside of the Charlottesville area. The need to accompany or join a spouse elsewhere, out of area employment opportunities or the desire to study in another location, does not constitute such a hardship. For further information and assistance, contact the assistant dean for student affairs.
NOTE: Transfer students awarded two residency semesters at entrance are not eligible to visit away at another ABA-approved law school.
Students receiving permission to spend one or two semesters at another law school are governed by the following:
- Students are expected to attend a law school of comparable quality. If that is not possible in the area where the student is located, the student must attend the best available institution in that area, although that fact alone will not ensure its approval; all requests will be considered on an individual basis.
- Students must satisfy the upper-level writing requirement and complete the required professional ethics and professional skills courses while in attendance at Virginia.
- Students must be in good academic standing at Virginia before enrolling at the other school.
- The student’s proposed course schedule at the school visited must be approved by the assistant dean for academic services.
- Enrollment at the school visited must be on a full-time basis and for a minimum of 12 semester credits (or the equivalent) each semester.
- Students may not enroll in courses at the school visited that duplicate courses completed at Virginia.
- Only grades of C (or its equivalent) or better earned at the school visited will be credited toward the Virginia degree. Pass/fail grades will be accepted for courses graded only on a pass/fail basis.
NOTE: D, F, NC and U grades (or their equivalents) awarded at visited institutions earn exclusion points in the same manner as grades earned at Virginia (see section I.H.2).
- Students who have received an F grade in a course at Virginia will not be allowed to transfer credit for that course from the school visited.
- Registration as a “not-in-residence” student and payment of the associated fee at the University of Virginia are required during the semester in which the student intends to graduate.
NOTE: Grade and credit certifications from the school visited must be received by the Virginia Student Records Office no later than 10 a.m. on the Thursday preceding Virginia’s May commencement in order to receive a diploma at commencement.
- Students who undertake course work at the University of Virginia while visiting away are responsible for any resulting tuition and fee charges at Virginia.
- Grades received at the school visited are not included in the calculation of Virginia grade point averages or in the consideration of Virginia honors.
O. CLASSES DEADLINE
All class sessions and meetings must be completed on or before the applicable “Classes End” date identified on the Academic Calendar. Clinical instructors for single-semester clinics should not expect students to submit written work product or undertake other client-related work after the “Classes End” date on the Academic Calendar. Clinical instructors for year-long clinics should not expect students to submit written work product or undertake other client-related work during the Fall exam period or after the “Classes End” date at the conclusion of the Spring term. No examination “review sessions” (even optional ones) should be held by instructors during the reading period or the exam period. Instructor office hours, of any duration, location, and/or frequency, during the reading period or exam period are acceptable.
P. CREDIT HOUR POLICY
1) The Vice Dean, in consultation with the Assistant Dean for Academic Services and Registrar, determines and assigns the number of credits for Law School courses. Credits are assigned in accordance with Standard 310 of the American Bar Association’s Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools.
2) One credit hour is the amount of work that reasonably approximates 42.5 total hours of (a) classroom / direct faculty instruction time and (b) out of class work. One credit hour for other academic activities approved for credit by the Law School (e.g., independent research projects) reasonably approximates the equivalent amount of work. Ordinarily, exam, paper and professional skills courses will have at least 2 hours of outside work for every 50 minutes of time spent in class or direct faculty instruction.
a) Exam courses: 42.5 hours per credit of time spent in class, preparing for class (reading or completing class assignments or assessments), and preparing for and taking an exam.
b) Paper courses (e.g., most seminars): 42.5 hours per credit of time spent in class, preparing for class (reading or completing class assignments or assessments), and / or researching and writing the required paper(s). Note: If the written work product is a substantial research paper that fulfills the Law School’s upper class writing requirement (see section I.M.) additional out of class work may be required.
c) Field placement or clinic: 42.5 hours per credit of time spent in class, performing field placement or clinic work, preparing for class or completing class assignments, and preparing for and taking an exam (if applicable).
3) With the exception of independent research projects (see Section VI.H.), if a student spends more than the minimum number of total hours per credit on the course, no additional credit beyond the established amount will be awarded for satisfactory completion of the course.
4) For new courses, the Vice Dean, in consultation with the Assistant Dean for Academic Services and Registrar, will review the proposed course description, meeting times, requirements, and assessments to determine and assign credits. New course proposals should include a general course description, a description or estimate of out of class work, and a description or estimate of the time to be spent in class sessions or direct faculty instruction in order to justify the credits that will be awarded. The Vice Dean or the Assistant Dean for Academic Services and Registrar may consult further with the faculty member teaching the course, the Curriculum Committee, or other faculty at the Law School to determine the credits to be awarded.
5) Each semester, the Vice Dean, in consultation with the Assistant Dean for Academic Services and Registrar, will audit current courses to ensure compliance with this policy.
6) The Law School’s curriculum committee will review these policies and procedures annually.
II. International Programs
A. INTERNATIONAL DUAL-DEGREE PROGRAM
Third-year students may complete a dual-degree with University Paris 1 Pantheon - Sorbonne Law School and Sciences Po/Paris. Students who successfully complete the program earn 27 credits; two residency semesters; a French law diploma (entitling them to sit for the French bar exam); and a J.D. degree from Virginia. Interested students should contact Professor Paul B. Stephan for further information.
NOTE:Transfer students awarded two residency semesters at entrance are not eligible to participate in international dual-degree programs.
Selected students must complete four semesters at the School of Law, all graduation requirements, and a minimum of 59 credits towards their J.D. degrees before undertaking the program in Paris during their third-year of study. Selected students are responsible for complying with all requirements and procedures for foreign student travel imposed by the University’s International Studies Office, with proof of compliance transmitted to the chair of the International Relations Committee before the student departs.
NOTE: D, F, NC and U grades (or their equivalents) awarded at international dual-degree institutions earn exclusion points in the same manner as grades earned at Virginia (see section I.I.2).
B. INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE PROGRAMS
The Law School offers second- and third-year students the opportunity to participate in eight international exchange programs: the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Bucerius Law School in Germany, Instituto de Empresa (IE) in Spain, the University of Melbourne in Australia, Seoul National University in Korea, the University of Sydney in Australia, Tel Aviv University Law School in Israel, and Waseda University in Japan. Students who participate in these exchange programs will be abroad either in the fall semester of their third year or in the spring semester of their second year (Tel Aviv only). Students earn 12 transfer credits and one residency semester. Students who wish to earn additional credits may concurrently enroll in independent research projects at Virginia while on exchange. Interested students should contact Professor Paul B. Stephan for further information. NOTE: The individual course grades earned at the Exchange institution do not appear on the Virginia transcript. F, NC and U grades (or their equivalents) awarded at Exchange institutions earn exclusion points in the same manner as grades earned at Virginia Law if the course is part of the student’s 12-credit load.
NOTE: Transfer students awarded two residency semesters at entrance are not eligible to participate in these international exchange programs.
Selected students are responsible for complying with all requirements and procedures for foreign student travel imposed by the University’s International Studies Office, with proof of compliance transmitted to the Student Records Office before the student departs.
C. LAW COURSES AT FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES
Students may receive credit for law courses completed in law schools outside the United States under the following circumstances:
- A student may petition the assistant dean for academic services for permission to receive credit for courses taken in the regular law faculty of a reputable foreign university. The petition must meet the following requirements:
- The proposed courses must be relevant to the student’s existing or planned course of study at the University of Virginia and will complement the student’s professional education.
- The student must show sufficient academic ability and background, including proficiency with the language of instruction, to indicate that the courses completed will advance the student’s professional education in law.
- The university in which the courses are offered must have a substantial and well-established law program, and the courses to be completed must be part of its regular course of instruction for its degree in law.
- The nature and reputation of the university’s law program must show that it possesses a rigor that justifies the awarding of credit. NOTE: Summer programs offered through U.S. law schools at foreign universities do not qualify under the provisions of this policy.
- A maximum of six semester credits may be applied towards the J.D. degree; the credits earned will not count for residency purposes. Students wishing to earn more than six semester credits at a foreign university should consider Student-Initiated Study Abroad (see section II.D).
- The student must address his or her petition to the Curriculum Committee. The Curriculum Committee will act on the petition at its next regularly scheduled meeting. It may obtain whatever information it finds to be relevant in addition to the information contained in the student’s petition. The committee’s action is final.
The student will be responsible for complying with all requirements and procedures for foreign student travel imposed by the University’s International Studies Office, with proof of compliance transmitted to the Student Records Office before the student departs.
NOTE: University policy restricts University-affiliated student travel to (or continued presence in) locations for which the U.S. State Department has issued a Travel Warning. Such warnings can be issued unexpectedly, and students should choose their destination and prepare accordingly.
D. STUDENT-INITIATED STUDY ABROAD
Under the student-initiated study abroad program a student may spend one semester away from the Law School studying law in a foreign university law school or law department (hereafter the “foreign law school” or “host law school”), for which the student will receive, upon satisfactory completion, up to 15 credits (up to 12 transfer credits for coursework completed at the foreign law school and one to three graded credits for a research paper written as part of the study abroad experience under the supervision of an eligible Virginia law professor) and one residency semester toward the J.D. degree.
NOTE: Study abroad programs offered through U.S. law schools at foreign universities do not qualify under the provisions of this policy.
The program is administered by the International Relations Committee, which must approve all applications. The purpose of student-initiated study abroad is to enable a student to obtain an academic and research experience not otherwise available at the Law School. Given the Law School’s diverse array of academic and research opportunities, students will bear a heavy burden to demonstrate that study abroad is truly justified. Each student participating in student-initiated study abroad will be required to complete a substantial research paper on a topic of scholarly interest to the student, approved by a Law School faculty member who has agreed to supervise the student’s project (“Law School faculty advisor”), and related to the course of study undertaken by the student at the host law school. The topic of the paper must be included in the student’s proposal to the International Relations Committee. The host law school must be one that offers the first degree in law within that country, although graduate-level courses may be more appropriate for the second- and third-year Law School students eligible for the program. The host law school and the academic coursework pursued must be of sufficiently high quality to make the granting of credit from the Law School appropriate.
It is the student’s responsibility to contact and obtain admission to and the approval of the host law school as well as to locate and enlist the support of a faculty advisor at the host law school (“foreign faculty advisor”). Student contact with foreign law schools should be coordinated through the Law School’s faculty International Relations Committee. If the plan requires study in a foreign language, the student must demonstrate proficiency in that language. Students engaged in student-initiated study abroad will continue to pay full tuition and fees to the University of Virginia for the semester in which they are engaged in student-initiated study abroad. The Law School will customarily provide some financial assistance to the student to partially offset the tuition charged by the host institution, but international student tuition is highly variable among foreign universities and each case will require independent financial review by the International Relations Committee. No such financial assistance will be provided without the approval of the International Relations Committee, so students are advised to consult with the committee early in the process. Students are encouraged to discuss other financial concerns with the Law School financial aid office.
- ELIGIBILITY AND APPLICATION
A student in good academic standing may study abroad in his or her fourth or fifth semester of law school. Applications for student-initiated study abroad to be undertaken in the spring must be submitted to the chair of the International Relations Committee by Nov. 1. Applications for projects to be undertaken in the fall must be submitted by April 1. Planning for a student-initiated study abroad semester must commence much earlier, however, because several necessary steps — such as applying to an appropriate foreign law school, writing a research and foreign coursework proposal, and obtaining both Law School and foreign faculty advisors — are time-consuming.
NOTE: Transfer students awarded two residency semesters at entrance are not eligible for student-initiated study abroad.
The application for student-initiated study abroad should include:
- A description of the host law school (including its national and international reputation), its grading system, academic calendar and a description of a full course load for a semester.
- A proposed course of study, including the name and detailed description of each course to be taken (along with the name and qualifications of the instructor, when available), the number of hours per week and the number of weeks the course meets, the course type (e.g. lecture, seminar), and the evaluation method (e.g. written or oral examination, paper).
- A letter of acceptance and approval of the proposed course of study from the host law school.
A written description of the research proposal that identifies the research topic on which the student and both the Law School and foreign faculty advisors have agreed, indicating the sources and methodology through which the student plans to research the topic, and demonstrating the usefulness of the foreign study for the type of research indicated. A proposal to examine a series of general questions about a topic without indicating a thesis or plan that shows how the research relates to the topic will not be acceptable. The student should explore the structure of the research proposal with both the Law School and foreign faculty advisors before submitting the application. The length of this research proposal is usually five to 15 double-spaced typed pages. The main justification for a student-initiated study abroad program is the opportunity for the student to do unusual types of research and to expand his or her intellectual base in a chosen area of law or policy. Thus the research paper ought to be one that cannot practically be researched in Charlottesville.
A signed letter from a full-time resident Law School faculty member confirming that he or she has discussed the project and the foreign coursework with the student, will supervise the coursework and research project and will grade the research paper (see section I.F)
A signed letter from a full-time resident faculty member of the host law school indicating that he or she has committed to serving as the student’s foreign faculty advisor, including a statement from the faculty member in support of the student’s course of study and research project. A simple statement of support will not be sufficient; the foreign faculty advisor must provide an endorsement specific to the student’s course of study and provide some explanation of why he or she supports the student’s particular research project. The foreign faculty advisor need not commit to grading the research paper; it will be graded for credit by the Law School faculty advisor. The student must also provide the foreign faculty advisor’s curriculum vitae.
A Law School transcript and a current resume. If the plan anticipates study in a foreign language, the student must demonstrate proficiency in that language.
A signed acknowledgement confirming the applicant’s knowledge and understanding of all program requirements, application requirements and procedures, and financial obligations and procedures.
EVALUATION AND APPROVAL
Student-initiated study abroad applications are submitted to the International Relations Committee for review. The International Relations Committee may disapprove the application, approve it as submitted or request changes that would make the proposal acceptable. The committee will state in its approval how many credit hours (not to exceed 12) the committee will award for successful completion of the foreign coursework component of the student-initiated study abroad plan. The burden remains on the student to persuade the committee that the coursework is sufficiently rigorous and that it will enable the student to fulfill educational objectives that cannot be achieved at the Law School.
The International Relations Committee attaches conditions to its approval of the student’s application. Conditions include but are not limited to the following:
No student will be awarded more than 15 credit hours for successful completion of the student-initiated study abroad. Up to three of those hours will be allocated to the proposed substantive research paper and will be graded by the Law School faculty advisor. Up to 12 credits will be allocated to the student’s foreign coursework.
NOTE: For incidental study, students may earn up to six semester credits at a foreign university under the provision for Law Courses at Foreign Universities (see section II.C).
Steady progress must be made on the research paper during the student-initiated study abroad semester. Specifically, the student and the Law School faculty advisor should agree to a schedule for completion of a detailed outline of the paper, a first draft and subsequent drafts. Having agreed to such a schedule, the student will be expected to adhere to it. The final version of the paper must be submitted to the Law School faculty advisor no later than 14 days before the grading deadline for the semester in which the student-initiated study abroad is undertaken.
When the student submits the research paper to the Law School faculty advisor, the student will also submit to the Law School faculty advisor (with a copy to the chair of the International Relations Committee) a written summary of his or her experience in the student-initiated study abroad program.
As soon as it is available, the student shall forward to the chair of the International Relations Committee a copy of the grade report for his or her foreign coursework, with any additional explanation of the foreign law school’s grading system that the chair deems necessary to evaluate the adequacy of the student’s performance for Law School credit.
Periodic communications between the student and the Law School faculty advisor are required throughout the student-initiated study abroad semester to assist the student in making satisfactory progress toward completion of his or her academic coursework and research project. The responsibility for communication rests with the student, who should report to his or her Law School faculty advisor at least twice a month.
The student will be responsible for complying with all requirements and procedures for foreign student travel imposed by the University’s International Studies Office, with proof of compliance transmitted to the Student Records Office before the student departs.
NOTE: University policy restricts University-affiliated student travel to (or continued presence in) locations for which the U.S. State Department has issued a Travel Warning. Such warnings can be issued unexpectedly, and students should choose their destination and prepare accordingly.
III. Special Programs
A. DUAL-DEGREE PROGRAMS
The Law School and other schools and departments of the University have developed several dual-degree programs enabling students to obtain a J.D. degree and master-level degree concurrently. Students enrolled in dual-degree programs must file required documents with the Student Records Office. The following dual-degree programs are available:
- J.D./M.A. (English, government, foreign affairs, history, philosophy)
- J.D./M.S. (accounting)
B. EXTERNAL COLLABORATIVE PROGRAMS
The Law School does not maintain formal dual-degree programs with schools in other universities. However, for a student who is admitted both to the Law School and to one of the following three schools, the Law School will approve an external collaborative program for the study of public international law on application by the individual student:
- J.D.-M.P.A. (Public Affairs) in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University
- J.D.-M.A.L.D. (Law and Diplomacy) in the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University
- J.D.-M.A. (International Relations) at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies
Please refer to the Graduate Record for further information about admission, course, degree and residency requirements. Students enrolled in external collaborative programs must file required documents with the Student Records Office.
The Law School offers four different types of externships: part-time externships, J-term externships, full-time individualized externships, and UVA Law in DC, a specialized full-time externship program based in Washington, D.C. In all four externships, students obtain field placements for one semester in domestic or international government, judicial, or nonprofit organizations, where they engage in legal work under the direct supervision of an attorney in the host organization. Summer work does not qualify for externship credit. Externship proposals substantially similar to available clinical offerings will not be approved. Students may not earn a salary or other compensation for externship work, although reimbursement for work-related expenses may be permissible. Externship work hours may not count towards a student’s pro bono hours.
- Part-time externships: Part-time externships are primarily local and require 10 hours per week of work at the host organization (130 hours total) as well as specified reading and short writing assignments, for a total of 4 academic credits (1 graded, 3 credit/no credit).
- J-Term externships: J-Term externships may be local, national, or international, and require 35 hours per week of work at the host organization (105 hours total) that must be completed between January 1 and the first day of the spring semester, as well as specified reading and short writing assignments, for a total of 2 academic credits (1 graded, 1 credit/no credit).
- Full-time individualized externships: Full-time externships may be local, national or international, and require 35 hours per week of work at the host organization (455 hours total), directed readings, and academic writing assignments, including a substantial research paper on an approved topic relevant to the host organization’s work, for a total of 13 credits (3 graded, 10 credit/no credit).
UVA Law in DC: UVA Law in DC is a curricular offering requiring 35 hours per week of work at the host organization (455 hours total), which must be a government office or agency or a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, participation in a weekly seminar in Washington, directed reading and writing assignments, and a substantial research paper on an approved topic relevant to the host organization’s work, for a total of 13 credits (3 graded, 10 credit/no credit).
For all externships, the student is responsible for obtaining the placement with a qualified organization. The Public Service Center will assist students in finding placements. The organization must provide a letter to the director of externships acknowledging the program’s expectations and the organization’s obligations, including the role of the host organization supervisor, the faculty advisor and the director of externships.
OBJECTIVES OF THE EXTERNSHIP PROGRAM
The externship program provides students the opportunity to supplement academic learning in a setting outside the classroom under the supervision of a lawyer. Externships combine substantial, practical legal work for a governmental or nonprofit organization with academic inquiry through readings, a reflective journal, research papers and guided reflection papers, and, in the case of UVA Law in DC, a weekly seminar. Externs learn to work under close supervision, receive feedback from the supervisor at the host organization and a Law School faculty member, and engage in self-assessment.
The main objectives of the Law School’s externship program are to connect traditional academic learning and abstract legal thinking with the practice of law, and to assist students in adjusting to their roles as professionals, becoming better problem-solvers, and developing interpersonal and professional skills. The program is meant to help students master self-directed learning, define and pursue learning goals, and learn how to learn from direct observation of and experience in the practice of law.
ELIGIBILITY AND APPLICATION
To apply, a student must be in good standing. First-year students and LL.M students are not eligible for externships. Transfer students are not eligible for full-time externships.
Ordinarily a student may participate in a full-time externship only in his or her fourth or fifth semester of law school, so that the value of the experience may be shared with law school colleagues, drawn upon in the classroom, and used to enrich the student’s own approach to traditional academic classes. A student may petition the Curriculum Committee to pursue a full-time externship in the third or sixth semester, based upon exceptional circumstances.
No student may do more than one full-time externship, and no student may do more than two part-time externships, during his or her law school career. No student may do more than one externship per semester. A student may petition the Curriculum Committee to pursue a full-time externship after being enrolled in no more than one part-time externship, or to pursue a single part-time externship after being enrolled in a full-time externship, based upon exceptional circumstances.
Applications should be submitted to the Law School’s director of externships.
• Applications to participate in part-time externships are due no later than November 15 for the following spring semester or April 15 for the following fall semester.
• Applications for full-time individualized externships and UVA Law in DC are due no later than October 15 for the following spring semester or March 15 for the following fall semester.
Because the student must obtain his or her placement and (for full-time individualized externships) must also develop a detailed proposal for a substantial academic research paper, as well as a background reading list, the student should begin the process at least two months before those deadlines, including applying as soon as possible to the organization where he or she would like to extern. Because potential externship host organizations can have varying decision schedules, applications for academic credit may be submitted without final confirmation of a placement with the host organization, as long as the student submits evidence of substantial progress toward a field placement.
Full-time individualized externships require a signed letter from a resident law school faculty member, confirming that he or she has discussed the proposed externship with the student and has agreed to serve as the faculty supervisor, and, in accordance with the Externship Handbook, to monitor the research project, directed readings, and written products under a schedule established in advance.
Detailed information on application requirements for each type of externship is available in the Externship Handbook.
APPROVAL OF EXTERNSHIPS
The application must be approved for the student to receive credit for the externship.
Part-time externships: The director of externships approves part-time externships in consultation with the Curriculum Committee.
Full-time individualized externships: The Curriculum Committee approves proposed full-time externships, other than UVA Law in DC externships, acting on the recommendations of the director of externships.
J-term Externships: The director of externships approves J-term externships in consultation with the Curriculum Committee.
UVA Law in DC: The director of externships approves UVA Law in DC externships in consultation with the Curriculum Committee.
Final authority for decisions on externships rests with the Curriculum Committee.
Further information on the criteria for approval of externship applications is available in the Externship Handbook.
To receive credit for the non-letter grade portion of any externship, the student must complete all work hours, maintain timely and thorough journals and timesheets, and obtain an evaluation of at least “satisfactory” from the supervisor at the host organization. The director of externships makes the final determination on whether the student should receive credit for the field placement component of the externship.
Grading for the letter-graded credits in externship will be as follows:
Part-time externships: Grades will be given by the director of externships based primarily on the required written assignments and progress towards the student’s self-defined goals for the externship.
Full-time individualized externships: Grades will be given by the supervising resident faculty member based primarily on the required written assignments. In consultation with the director of externships, the faculty member will also take into account progress towards the student’s self-defined goals for the externship.
J-term Externships: Grades will be given by the director of externships based primarily on the required written assignments and progress towards the student’s self-determined goals for the externship.
UVA Law in DC: Grades will be given by the director of externships based primarily on the required written assignments, class participation, and progress towards the student’s self-defined goals for the externship.
D. THIRD-YEAR THESIS PROGRAM
Under the third-year thesis program third-year students may receive credit for intensive research leading to a thesis completed under close faculty supervision coupled with an oral defense before a faculty committee.
ELIGIBILITY AND APPLICATION
A student in good academic standing may undertake a yearlong thesis during his or her third year of law school. Applications must be received by the Curriculum Committee before the beginning of the student’s third year. Planning for the thesis must commence much earlier, however, because several necessary steps — such as writing a research protocol, preparing a summary of the current literature and obtaining faculty advisors — are time-consuming.
THE APPLICATION MUST INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
A written description of the student’s research proposal. The description shall identify the research topic on which the student and the faculty advisors have agreed and indicate the sources and methodology through which the student plans to research the topic. The written description should include an explanation of why the proposed research is unique and cannot satisfactorily be done through normal course work or supervised independent research.
A summary of the current literature, endorsed by the student’s faculty advisors, that indicates how the proposed research will make a significant contribution to the scholarly literature.
A signed letter from two full-time resident law faculty members confirming that they have reviewed the thesis proposal and literature summary and judged that the research will make a significant contribution to the scholarly literature, and affirming that they will supervise the project and grade the research paper (see section I.G).
EVALUATION AND APPROVAL
The Curriculum Committee may disapprove the application, approve it as submitted or request changes that would make the proposal acceptable.
In general, six hours of academic credit will be awarded for completion of a third-year thesis. No more than six hours of credit may be earned, although in unusual cases a lesser amount of credit may be approved. Credit will be allocated equally to each semester in the student’s third-year. A student who is preparing a thesis may not earn additional credit for supervised independent research during the same period.
Students should expect to prepare a thesis of approximately 30,000 words, including footnotes. This is intended only as a guideline; final determination of appropriate requirements will be left to the supervisory faculty committee. A printed copy of the final paper must be submitted to the Student Records Office to be forwarded to the Law Library, where it is filed under the name of the supervising faculty member for 10 years.
FACULTY SUPERVISION, DEFENSE OF THESIS AND FINAL APPROVAL
The project must be supervised by two faculty members who are expected to meet frequently with the student throughout the year.
Each thesis will be reviewed by a committee composed of the two supervising faculty members plus one other faculty member named by the Curriculum Committee. Unless the Curriculum Committee determines otherwise, the supervising committee will conduct an oral examination of the student on the subject of his or her thesis. The supervising committee will determine the grade earned by the student and may reduce the number of hours of academic credit earned by the student if the completed work was insufficient to earn the amount of credit originally approved.
IV. Research Papers
A. ORIGINAL WORK REQUIRED
Any paper or other written work submitted for any Law School course, seminar or independent research project must be solely the original work of the student in whose name the work is submitted, with all sources acknowledged.
B. MULTIPLE SUBMISSIONS
No paper or written work, or portion thereof, may be submitted for credit toward the law degree that has been previously submitted in identical or similar form in another course or seminar or any other forum anywhere, either within the Law School or any other setting. The work submitted for credit toward a law degree must be completed originally and solely for the requirement for which it is submitted.
If a student wishes to submit work for credit toward the law degree which he or she has begun previously (but was not submitted for academic credit) the student must submit the previous work to the instructor in advance for approval. Such approval must be in writing on a form available from the Student Records Office.
Similarly, no paper or similar papers may be submitted in more than one course or seminar or independent study or any other forum anywhere either within the Law School or any other setting concurrently without the advance written permission of the instructors to whom the paper will be submitted, on a form available from the Student Records Office. If permission is granted, the paper must be at least twice the length required for each course or seminar for which it is submitted.
C. DEADLINES AND EXTENSIONS
Unless the instructor announces an earlier deadline, all papers for academic credit are due no later than noon on the last day of the exam period for the semester in which credit is to be awarded. EXCEPTION: Student-initiated study abroad program research papers have a different deadline.
Instructors may not grant deadline extensions; all authority in this matter is delegated by the faculty to the assistant dean for academic services and the assistant dean for student affairs.
Deadline extensions must be sought in advance of the scheduled deadline and will be granted only in the following circumstances:
A medical or other personal difficulty has so interfered with the student’s ability to complete his or her work that in the opinion of both the instructor for whom the paper is due and the assistant dean for student affairs that an extension of time is necessary to give the student a fair opportunity to complete the project. When the extension is granted, the instructor and the assistant dean for student affairs will jointly determine a realistic date for completion of the written work, but the paper must be submitted in time to permit grading by the law school’s grading deadline.
The project or paper has changed so that either the subject matter is substantially different or the work needed to complete the original project, due to a change in the scope of the project or the contemplated depth of analysis, is significantly greater than was contemplated by both the student and the instructor at the time the project or course began. If the student has initiated the change in the nature of the project, the change must have been brought to the attention of the instructor and agreed to by him or her before the end of the semester in which the course or project was begun. In addition, the student must satisfy the instructor that he or she has made substantial progress toward completion of required work, meaning that most of the necessary research has been completed and a general organizational scheme for the paper exists. Documentation for the assistant dean for academic services shall include a brief statement of the work completed and the organizational scheme to be followed in writing the paper, together with a statement that the instructor has reviewed the student’s application and is in agreement with the statements made therein. If an extension is granted, a realistic date for the completion of the written work while permitting enough time to meet the law school’s grading deadline will be established at that time.
D. LATE SUBMISSIONS
Students are expected to submit papers in accordance with established deadlines. Failure to submit papers when requested will result, for each 24-hour period that the paper is beyond the deadline, in a two-step reduction in the grade for the course, seminar or research project (including independent research, external studies, student-initiated study abroad and third-year theses). The first 24-hour period begins at the submission deadline, so a paper submitted at any point during this first 24-hour period warrants a two-step reduction The two-step reduction in grade will be determined as the grade two steps lower in the system of 10 possible grades that, pursuant to part I.I.1 of these policies, can be used by the faculty in evaluating performance in courses and seminars (A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, D, F).
Detailed examination information is posted each semester. Students are responsible for reviewing and complying with all exam policies and procedures. Exceptions may be granted only by the assistant dean for student affairs and the assistant dean of academic services and registrar, and only then for serious circumstances beyond a student’s control that interfere with a student’s ability to perform (see below). Failure to take an examination during the scheduled time will result in a failing grade.
A. FINAL EXAM SCHEDULE
Law courses typically have a final exam at the end of the semester or require a paper in lieu of an exam. If a paper in lieu of an exam is permitted, the policies in Section IV apply to the paper. First-year courses and a few other selected courses will have “fixed” exams; Short Courses may require a “take home” exam; all other courses in the Law School will have “flexible” (flex) exams. The final exam schedule is posted at the beginning of each semester.
If a course is scheduled to have a fixed exam, students must sit for that exam during the designated time.
If a course is scheduled to have a flex exam, students may sit for that exam during any designated flex-exam time slot. EXCEPTION: Graduating students typically must finish their exams a day before the exam period ends.
Students may not sit for a flex exam during a fixed-exam time slot.
Advance registration for exams is not required.
Exams are scheduled Monday-Saturday. No exams are scheduled on Sunday.
B. GENERAL RULES
- No information of any kind about any exam, including an exam from a prior semester, may be transmitted by any means to students who have not taken that exam. This prohibition includes but is not limited to information about the specific content of questions; the number, difficulty and kinds of questions; and general topics included or not included on the exam.
- Unless specifically instructed otherwise by an instructor, students may discuss exams after the exam period ends, but only with students who have completed the exam.
- The time permitted by an instructor for all exam-takers will be multiplied by 1.334 for designated LL.M. and exchange students (for an extra 20 minutes per exam hour). J.D. and non-law students are not eligible for this additional exam time.
- Students may not use unauthorized aids in taking an exam.
- Failure to sit for an exam when scheduled will result in a failing grade.
- Students may use the lecture classrooms on the first floor of Withers-Brown Hall and the second floor of Slaughter Hall to sit for exams. Students may not sit for exams in any other location (seminar rooms, the library, journal offices, etc.) unless specifically instructed otherwise.
- Students may not “set up” in classrooms for an afternoon exam before 12:30 p.m.
C. COMPUTER POLICIES
- Students are required to take all exams (fixed and flex) on a laptop computer unless instructed otherwise. Other than the monitor attached to the student’s laptop, students may not use peripheral monitors unless accommodated in writing for medical reasons by the assistant dean of student affairs.
- It is the student’s responsibility to have all computer equipment in good working order at each exam. Students should reboot their computers and scan for viruses before the exam period begins.
- Students are responsible for creating and saving back-up copies of their exams. Under no circumstances should a student open a back-up copy of an exam after the exam has been submitted unless requested to do so by Law ITC or Student Records Office personnel.
- Students are expected to monitor their University email accounts. If there is a problem with a student’s exam, the student will be contacted via his or her University e-mail address.
- Students who experience computer problems, medical concerns or other issues that affect their ability to perform during an exam should immediately go to the exam administration table on the first floor of Withers-Brown Hall and report the problem. As soon as the problem is reported, exam time “stops.”
- Once reported, specific procedures/remedies are in place including allowances for time extensions as follows.
- Computer problems:
- The exam time clock is “stopped” when a student reports a computer-related exam issue. Once the problem is corrected, the time clock is restarted and the student resumes sitting the exam using either his/her laptop or a back-up PC.
- If a student loses part/all of her/his exam answer as a result of a computer-related issue, Law ITC will try to recover the work lost before the issue was reported. Students will be given one-half of any time lost between the last successful “save” and the report time of an issue. This time will be added to the remaining time left on the exam and the student’s exam end time will be adjusted accordingly. Example: A student reports a problem two hours into a three-hour exam at 3:15 p.m. The last recoverable saved document is time stamped at 2:45 p.m. Student will be given one-half of the 30 minutes lost, i.e., 15 minutes. Hence, when the student resumes the exam, s/he will be given one hour and 15 minutes to complete the exam.
- Medical or other issues:
- The exam time clock is “stopped” when a student reports a medical or other issue affecting his/her ability to perform. If the student is able to resume the exam, the time clock is restarted.
- If the student is unable to resume the exam, a determination will be made at a later date regarding the exam status of the student.
D. HONOR PLEDGE
Unless specifically instructed to hand-write and sign the Honor Pledge on the exam cover sheet, students submitting exams electronically acknowledge the following Honor Pledge on all exams:
“On my honor, I have neither given nor received aid on this examination, nor did I have prior knowledge of its contents.”
Students who are unable to acknowledge the Honor Pledge must inform Student Records Office personnel or the assistant dean for academic services.
E. EXAM TYPES AND DISTRIBUTION PROCEDURES
- FIXED EXAMS First-year courses and a few other selected courses will have fixed exams. Students will report to designated classrooms on specified days and times for exam distribution. Once the exam is distributed, students may then go to any lecture classroom in Withers-Brown Hall and Slaughter Hall to write the exam.
FLEX EXAMS Flex exams are distributed at the exam table in Withers-Brown Hall in accordance with the Final Exam Schedule posted by the Student Records Office. To sit for a flex exam, the student must present a University-issued photo ID card to exam table personnel and ask for the exam by course name and instructor. NOTE: Students who cannot present a UVA ID card may not check out exams until all students with UVA ID cards have been processed. The exam will be electronically checked out to the student and the student will be given a receipt listing three submission deadlines:
• The first time listed is the deadline to stop answering and/or editing answers. NOTE: Continuing to answer or edit exam answers after this deadline is an honor violation.
• The second time listed is the deadline for submitting the exam answers online. This deadline concludes a 10-minute administrative period for making a final back-up copy of the exam answers, completing the online submission process, and verifying that the correct exam file was submitted.
• The third time listed is the deadline for returning the exam questions to exam table personnel.
Once the exam is checked out, the student should proceed to an available lecture classroom and begin the exam.
SHORT-COURSE EXAMS Short-course exams are usually distributed to students at the end of the last class session. Typically, they are to be completed within a specified time period and submitted online by a specified deadline.
JANUARY TERM EXAMS January Term exams are usually distributed to students at the end of the last class session. Typically, these are to be completed within a specified time period and submitted online by a specified deadline.
F. EXAM SUBMISSION
- FIXED EXAMS When the time allotted for answering and/or editing exam questions has expired, students must immediately stop answering/editing exam answers, then complete the online submission process, and then return the exam question set to the classroom where the exam was distributed in accordance with the submission deadlines posted in the exam distribution classroom. If unable to return the question set to the distribution room, the student should return it to the exam table in Withers-Brown Hall.
FLEX EXAMS When the time allotted for the exam has expired, students must immediately stop writing, submit their exams online and return the exam question set to an official at the exam table in Withers-Brown Hall in accordance with the three submission deadlines listed on students’ exam check-out receipts.
Once the exam questionset has been returned to an official at the exam table, it will not be returned to the student.
G. LATE EXAMS
In accordance with guidelines adopted by the faculty, late exams will be evaluated as follows:
- If an exam is submitted less than five minutes late, a faculty member may, at his or her discretion, penalize that late exam. For example, if an exam falls on the borderline between two grades, the faculty member may use the fact that the exam was late as a basis for awarding a lower grade.
- If an exam is submitted more than five minutes late, the grade shall be reduced according to the following schedule of penalties, unless the faculty member concludes that there is good cause to do otherwise.
- If the exam is 5 to 10 minutes late, the grade will be reduced one gradation (i.e., an A is reduced to A-, B+ to B, etc.);
If the exam is 10 to 15 minutes late, the grade will be reduced two gradations (i.e., an A is reduced to B+, B to C+, etc.);
If the exam is 15 to 20 minutes late, the grade will be reduced three gradations (i.e., an A is reduced to B; etc.);
If the exam is more than 20 minutes late, the grade will be reduced four or more gradations.
H. FIRE ALARMS AND POWER OUTAGES
In the event a fire alarm is activated or there is a power failure while a final exam is in progress, the following procedure will be used.
- Students will evacuate the exam rooms, leaving all exam materials and computers in the exam rooms.
- The exam administration staff will note the time and lock the exam rooms.
- When re-entry to the exam rooms is allowed, a member of the exam administration staff will notify students of the adjusted times. The assistant dean for academic services or Student Records Office personnel will determine if, and how much, extra time will be allowed for completion of exams due to the disruption.
Law School faculty policy requires all students to adhere to the exam schedule and procedures described in this Section, and delegates administrative responsibility for these matters solely to the assistant dean for student affairs and the assistant dean of academic services and registrar. Exceptions may not be granted by individual faculty members.
Exceptions to the schedule and procedures must be sought in advance from the assistant dean for student affairs or the assistant dean of academic services and registrar, except when sickness, emergency or personal circumstances beyond the student’s control occur. In cases of emergency, call (434) 924-1363 or (434) 924-4072.
Exceptions are granted only for reasons that arise out of personal circumstances beyond the student’s control. Vacations, honeymoons, employment-related activity, lower airfares and weddings (except of a member of the immediate family) are excluded as appropriate reasons for rescheduling an exam. Relief will not be granted for sickness or other emergencies unless the student actually has been deprived of the ability to take all exams on an every-other-day basis.
If an exception to reschedule an exam is permitted, it will result in the student taking the same exam taken by the other students in the class within a reasonable time following the exam period but permitting enough time for the instructor to grade the exam by the law school’s grading deadline. Otherwise, the student will receive a W (withdrawn) grade. Rescheduled exams will be distributed on work days between 9:00-9:30a.m. only.
Exceptions will not be granted to permit a less-crowded exam schedule unless the student has more exams than can be taken on an every-other-day basis beginning with the first day of the exam period.
Exceptions will not be granted to permit a student to take a fixed exam earlier than scheduled.
VI. Courses and Course Enrollment
A.ADDING AND DROPPING COURSES
Students enroll in courses during scheduled enrollment periods prior to the start of classes each semester. During the add/drop period (ending at the conclusion of the first week of classes each semester), students revise/finalize their course schedules. Students are strongly advised to review their schedules on SIS at the end of each add/drop period to confirm that their course schedules are correct. Once the add/drop period has ended, students are expected (absent compelling and exceptional circumstances justifying withdrawal) to complete the requirements for all courses in which they are enrolled.
NOTES: The add/drop policy governing January Term and short courses is different (see section VI.I and VI.N). Also, students who have added a clinical course to their schedule cannot add a second clinic until (1) after the add/drop deadline passes and a seat remains open in the second clinic, AND (2) both clinic directors have signed SRO’s form authorizing the dual enrollments.
B. AUDITING COURSES
Students wishing to enroll in courses as auditors may submit requests to do so during a period advertised by the Student Records Office. Enrollment will be on a first-come, first-served space-available basis only.
No credit is awarded for an audit; the annotation “AU” will appear on the student’s transcript noting the audit. To secure such a notation, students must attend at least 80 percent of the scheduled class sessions.
The credit values of audited courses are not included in calculating the minimum course load of 12 credits. Students may discontinue auditing a course at any time during the semester by notifying the Student Records Office.
NOTE: An audit enrollment may not be changed to a graded enrollment; similarly, a graded enrollment may not be changed to an audit enrollment.
C. COURSE LOAD
In accordance with American Bar Association standards, J.D. students must not be enrolled in coursework that exceeds 20 percent of the total coursework required for graduation. Accordingly, students at Virginia are limited to a maximum of 17 credits to be applied to the degree during any semester. To satisfy residency requirements, students must enroll in a minimum of 12 “degree” credits each semester. Students wishing to enroll in fewer than 12 credits must petition the assistant dean for student affairs; such petitions are granted only for exceptional circumstances beyond the student’s control.
All first-year students must enroll in the required fall curriculum composed of five courses totaling 16 credits. In the spring semester, first-year students must enroll in required and elective courses totaling at least 14, but not more than 16, credits. First-year students may not enroll in more than 16 credits in either semester nor may they enroll in non-law courses. Exception: First year students who are admitted or have applied to a dual-degree program may enroll in one spring elective course that is taught by another department or school and cross-listed at the law school with the express permission of the faculty advisor for the dual degree program and the assistant dean for academic services. This exception does not avoid the 16-credit limitation. Consult the Student Records Office for details.
All second- and third-year students must enroll in at least 12 credits to be applied toward the degree and no more than 17 credits to be applied toward the degree each semester. Students must average between 14 and 15 credits to be applied toward the degree per semester to complete the J.D. degree in three years and are strongly advised not to enroll in more than 16 credits in any one semester (including courses audited in the Law School or courses taken for credit or audited in another school or department).
All LL.M. students must enroll in at least 12 credits to be applied toward the degree and no more than 14 credits toward the LL.M. degree each semester. Students wishing to enroll in more than 14 credits must obtain the approval of the assistant dean for graduate studies. Students wishing to enroll in fewer than 12 credits (on a part-time basis) must demonstrate exceptional circumstances and obtain the approval of the Vice Dean. LLM students are strongly advised to study and adhere to the credit hour and credit type (such as in-classroom vs. non-classroom credits) eligibility requirements of any jurisdiction where they may seek bar admission.
D. COURSE WITHDRAWAL
Once the add/drop period has ended, students are expected to complete the requirements for all courses in which they are enrolled. Course withdrawal petitions will be considered only for good cause, such as illness or other circumstances beyond the student’s control. Being enrolled in too many credits, journal participation, not needing a course to graduate, not attending the first class session, faculty changes, changes in course expectations, extracurricular or job-related activities, etc., do not justify withdrawing from a course after the add/drop period has ended. Withdrawal petitions must be submitted to the assistant dean for academic services. Students granted course withdrawals will be assigned W (withdrawn) grades.
E. COURSES IN OTHER UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENTS
Students may supplement their law school curriculum with courses from other schools and departments in the University.
Enrollment in non-law courses is subject to the following:
To qualify for credit toward the J.D. degree, the course must be a graduate level non-language course numbered 6000 or higher directly relevant to the student’s intellectual development in the study of law that is not graded on a pass/fail basis.
Students who wish to enroll in a non-law course must submit a completed non-law course request form and a signed University Course Action Form to the Student Records Office. If seeking degree credit, the petition must include a copy of the course syllabus and a statement of its direct relevance to the student’s intellectual development in the study of law.
No more than one non-law course may be taken in a given semester. JD students may not enroll in more than a combined total of 17 Law and non-Law credits towards the JD degree at any time. Exception: Some dual-degree students enrolled exclusively in a required first-year program in another department or school may enroll in more than 17 credits in a semester. Consult the Student Records Office for details.
With the approval of the assistant dean for academic services, students may apply up to six non-law credits toward the J.D. degree. Students who wish to receive more than six non-law degree credits must submit a petition to the assistant dean for academic services to be approved by the Curriculum Committee. This petition must describe not only the direct relevance of the additional non-law courses to the student’s intellectual development in the study of law, but must make the case that the particular set of non-law courses selected forms part of a coherent educational plan. A maximum of 12 non-law degree credits may be applied toward the J.D. degree.
With the approval of the assistant dean for graduate studies, LL.M. students may apply a total of three non-law credits toward the LL.M. degree.
Unlike Law School courses, many courses in other schools and departments require the permission of the instructor to enroll. While we will accept e-mails from non-law course instructors for initial enrollment, students must submit signed Course Action Forms to the Student Records Office by the end of the add/drop period to finalize their enrollment in non-law courses.
Non-law courses often begin and end on different dates than Law School courses. The examination periods typically overlap, however.
It is the student’s responsibility to arrange courses so that full attendance is possible. No credit will be granted for any course, including a non-law course, which conflicts in time with another course in which the student is enrolled, no matter how minuscule the overlap. In addition, no credit will be granted for courses that are scheduled so close together that full attendance is unlikely. At least 15 minutes must be allowed between consecutively scheduled courses not on the same campus (North Grounds and Main Grounds are considered separate campuses for purposes of this rule). Note that other schools’ enrollment schedules may differ from the Law School’s, and the Student Records Office may not learn of a time conflict until after the add/drop period has ended. Nevertheless, a student will be dropped from one of the conflicting courses when a conflict is discovered. This rule applies to all non-law courses, whether taken by dual-degree or non–dual-degree students.
Nothing in this section is meant to discourage students from taking courses in other schools and departments of the University and not applying the resulting credit toward the J.D. degree. For example, fluency in a foreign language can be of obvious value in many types of legal practice and scholarship. Language courses, however, are not directly relevant to a student’s intellectual development in the study of law and do not qualify for degree credit.
Non-law course grades are not included in the calculation of Law School grade point averages or in the consideration of Law School honors.
F. DIRECTED RESEARCH
Eligible students may receive credit for directed research projects supervised by eligible Law School faculty members. This opportunity differs from independent research credit in that it does not necessarily result in a formal research paper authored solely by the student. Work that might qualify for directed research credit could include research and writing that lead to an article co-authored by a professor and a student, sustained library research on discrete topics for an ongoing scholarly or pro bono project of a professor, or the interviewing of witnesses in connection with a professor’s public interest work. For credit to be awarded, the student must complete at least 42.5 hours of work during the semester and the supervising faculty member must certify that the experience was sustained, productive and educationally valuable. Directed Research projects are subject to the following restrictions:
First-year students are not eligible to enroll in directed research projects.
Enrollment in Directed Research must be completed through the Student Records Office by timely submitting the required form to the Student Records Office (the form is available in Student Records or on LawWeb). A completed form requires a summary of the research project to be undertaken and the signature of an eligible supervising faculty member.
Only full-time resident law faculty members may supervise directed research projects (see section I.G). Emeriti and visiting faculty members may supervise with the permission of the vice dean.
One credit will be awarded for each project. Students will be graded on a credit/no credit basis only.
Students may earn a maximum of three credits of directed research over their law school careers. Directed research credits will be combined with independent research credits for purposes of applying the overall ceilings on independent research credit (see section VI.H.M); i.e., students may earn a maximum of eight credits, a maximum of four credits per academic year and a maximum of six credits under the supervision of any one faculty member.
Students may not engage in a directed research project and be a paid research assistant for the same professor in a given semester.
Any work applied toward directed research credit may not be counted toward the pro bono hours registered with the Mortimer Caplin Public Service Center.
G. COURSE ENROLLMENT PROCEDURES
Except for required first-year courses and other specified courses, all students enroll in courses using the Law School’s lottery course enrollment system, the Lottery Course Selector (LCS) and the University’s Student Information System (SIS). These systems require a computer with Internet access and a Web browser. Students enroll in courses for the fall and spring semesters and the January Term in accordance with the Course Enrollment Schedule and instructions announced by the Student Records Office. Eligibility for course enrollment is governed by Law School academic policies and procedures and course restrictions listed in online course descriptions.
NEGATIVE SERVICE INDICATORS (REGISTRATION BLOCK HOLDS)
Students who have not satisfied all student health, financial or other requirements of the University or Law School may have “negative service indicators,” which display as holds, placed on their University records. These holds create registration blocks in SIS. While registration blocks will not preclude course enrollment in LCS, they will block other University services, including course enrollment in SIS. The Student Records Office cannot remove or override registration blocks in the SIS.
COURSE ENROLLMENT SCHEDULE
The Course Enrollment Schedule is posted on the Law School’s website each year (usually near the end of June). Typically, students enroll in fall, January Term, and spring courses alternating between LCS (lottery) and SIS (live add/drop) as generally described below (more specific instructions and deadlines are posted by Student Records).
• After coordinating with the Vice Dean and faculty, the Student Records Office posts the courses and schedules for the upcoming academic year (usually near the end of June).
• Incoming LLM students inform the Student Records Office of intention to take Civil Procedure in the Fall term and/or Constitutional Law in the Spring term.
• Third-year students and LLMs, followed by returning second-year students and transfers, enroll in upper-level graduation requirement courses for the year in LCS.
• Third-year students and LLMs, followed by returning second-year students and transfers, enroll in fall semester courses in LCS.
• Exchange and visiting students enroll in fall semester courses in LCS.
• All students add and drop fall semester courses through the first week of fall classes in SIS.
• Third-year students and LLMs, followed by second-year students, followed by first-year students, enroll in J-term and spring semester courses in LCS.
• Exchange and visiting students enroll in J-term and spring semester courses in LCS.
• First-year students enroll in J-term and spring semester elective courses in LCS.
• All students add and drop January Term and spring semester courses in SIS.
• Students add and drop J-term classes until closely before the class starts.
• Students add and drop spring semester courses through the first week of spring classes in SIS.
H. INDEPENDENT RESEARCH
Eligible students may receive credit for independent research projects resulting in substantial research papers supervised and graded by eligible Law School faculty members.
NOTE: Independent research projects are subject to the same policies as other courses. Policies governing withdrawal, paper deadline extensions, the upper-level writing requirement, grading, etc., with the exception of class attendance all apply.
Independent research projects are subject to the following restrictions:
First-year students are not eligible to enroll in independent research projects.
Only full-time resident law faculty members may supervise independent research projects (see section I.G). Emeriti and visiting faculty members may supervise with the permission of the vice dean. Supervision by a member of the faculty of another school in the University is permitted with consultation by a member of the law faculty and with permission of the assistant dean for academic services.
Enrollment in semester-long and fall/spring yearlong research projects must be completed through the Student Records Office by submitting a form (available in Student Records or on LawWeb). NOTE: the form requires confirmation from the supervising faculty member that he or she is willing to supervise the project.
Students may earn one, two or three credits for each project based upon the substantiality of the paper produced. The number of credits to be earned is specified at the time of application. Students need to realistically plan the number of credits a given research project can support.
Credit for a single independent research project of two or three credits may be spread over two consecutive semesters for students whose actual work on the project extends over this period.
The supervising faculty member, in consultation with the assistant dean for academic services, may approve credit and time period changes to the project. However, no changes can be made after November 1 for projects due in the fall or April 1 for projects due in the spring.
Unless the supervising faculty member establishes an earlier deadline, the research paper must be submitted no later than noon on the last day of the exam period in the semester in which the paper is to be graded. Exceptions to this deadline may be granted only by the assistant dean for academic services or the assistant dean for student affairs.
Guidelines for paper length by number of credits are provided here. Typed, letter-sized (8 1/2” x 11”), double-spaced pages, footnotes included, are assumed. These are intended only as guidelines; final determination of requirements is left to the supervising faculty member.
The final research paper must be submitted through the Law School’s online exam/paper submission system in accordance with the announced deadline. Late paper submissions will be penalized in accordance with section IV.D. of the Academic Policies.
No independent research credit may be earned in an academic year during which the student is enrolled in a third-year thesis (see section III.D).
Any paper submitted for academic credit as independent research and also to satisfy membership or publication requirements of a journal must be completed and submitted before the editorial process begins. Papers submitted after editorial work has begun will not be accepted for academic credit. This does not mean a student cannot discuss the project with anyone; quite the contrary. It is desirable to discuss the research and findings with others, including the journal editor who might know about the topic. The writing, however, should be entirely and exclusively the student’s own work.
Independent research credits will be combined with directed research credits for purposes of applying the overall ceilings on independent research credit (see section VI.E.F); i.e., students may earn a maximum of eight credits; a maximum of four credits per academic year; and a maximum of six credits under the supervision of any one faculty member. The hour limits described above are prescribed by the faculty and will not be waived except in very unusual circumstances, and then only upon request of the supervising professor to the assistant dean for academic services.
I. JANUARY TERM COURSES
Adding a January Term Course:
A student can self-add a J-term course via SIS from mid-November until just a few days before the class starts when the SIS add deadline occurs. Once the SIS add deadline passes, if seats are available in a J-term course, students seeking to enroll must make a written request to enroll to the Student Records Office. If a student submits such a request after the first class session but before the second, confirmation of first-session attendance will be required by instructor signature on the form.
Dropping a January Term Course:
A student can self-drop a J-term course via SIS from mid-November until the SIS J-term drop deadline announced by SRO. However, after the SIS drop deadline passes, an enrolled student is committed to attend the course. If, after attending the first session, the student wishes to drop the course, the student must make a written request to the Student Records Office no later than the start of the second session.
The January Term is a distinct short course term separate from the fall and spring semesters. As such, January Term courses are not included in calculating course loads for the fall or spring semesters, but the credits are included in calculating the 86 credits required for graduation. January Term courses are offered each year during the weeks immediately preceding the start of spring semester courses. Typically, they meet for 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) per day for five consecutive days. Students earn one credit in each course. Courses are offered in both the morning (9:30-noon) and the afternoon (1:30-4), but students may enroll in only one January Term course each year.
EXCEPTION: While considered January Term courses, the rules for the Trial Advocacy College and study-abroad January term courses differ. As long as there is no time conflict, eligible students can enroll in the Trial Advocacy College and one regular week-long January Term course.
Exams and papers for January Term courses are due no later than two weeks after the course ends; final grades are due no later than four weeks after assignments are due (six weeks after the course ends). Students are expected to attend 100 percent of J-term class sessions. An instructor may take absences into account for grading purposes, and an instructor shall notify the Student Records Office if a student’s absences make it impossible to meet the law school’s minimum attendance expectations (see Academic Policy I.A).
J. JAG SCHOOL COURSES
Each year the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School invites law students to enroll in a few of their courses. While the JAG School is not a department at the University, their courses are treated as courses in other University departments (section VI.E.) as follows:
Students who wish to enroll in a JAG School course must submit a completed JAG School course request form.
Students may enroll in a maximum of three one-credit JAG short courses in a given semester, or in a single semester-long course.
JAG School course forms will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
With the approval of the assistant dean for academic services, students may apply up to six JAG School credits toward the J.D. degree. Students who wish to receive more than six JAG School degree credits must submit a petition to the assistant dean for academic services to be approved by the Curriculum Committee. This petition must describe the direct relevance of the additional JAG School courses to the student’s intellectual development in the study of law. A maximum of 12 JAG School course credits may be applied toward the J.D. degree.
With the approval of the assistant dean for graduate studies, LL.M. students may apply a total of three non-law/JAG School credits toward the LL.M. degree.
JAG School courses often begin and end on different dates than Law School courses.
It is the student’s responsibility to arrange courses so that full attendance is possible. Students may not enroll in a JAG School course that has a time conflict with another course in which the student is enrolled, no matter how minuscule the overlap. At least 10 minutes must be allowed between consecutively scheduled courses at the Law School and the JAG School.
JAG School courses shorter than a full semester in length are considered “short courses.” Students may add and drop JAG short courses in accordance with Law School short course policy (section VI.N.).
JAG School course grades are not included in the calculation of Law School grade point averages or in the consideration of Law School honors.
K. MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE COURSES
Mutually exclusive courses are courses that cover material so duplicative of each other that only one of the courses may be completed for credit. Students may not enroll in mutually exclusive courses including multiple sections of the same course (e.g., two sections of Evidence). Mutually exclusive courses are listed in the online course descriptions on the Law School’s website.
L. PREREQUISITE COURSES
Many courses have prerequisites (or, in a few cases, concurrent requisites or “co-requisites”). Pre- or co-requisites are listed in the online course descriptions on the Law School’s website. Students must meet all such requirements for courses they wish to enroll in or have an appropriate written waiver on file in the Student Records Office in order to be enrolled.
M. REPEATING COURSES
Students may not repeat courses in which passing grades were earned. Students may re-enroll in courses in which they earned failing grades. Each enrollment will appear, with associated grades, on the student’s transcript. All grades received are included in GPA calculations. A student who earns a failing grade in a required course may elect to re-enroll in the course with any instructor she or he chooses unless the faculty member assigning the failing grade requires otherwise.
N. SHORT COURSES
Short courses are specialized courses typically offered by visiting experts in a given area of the law. While most are scheduled for a consecutive two-week period, some may be structured differently. Exams and papers for short courses are due no later than two weeks after the course ends; final grades are due no later than four weeks after assignments are due (six weeks after the course ends). Students are expected to attend 100 percent of Short Course class sessions. An instructor may take absences into account for grading purposes, and an instructor shall notify the Student Records Office if a student’s absences make it impossible to meet the law school’s minimum attendance expectations (see Academic Policy I.A). Special add/drop rules apply to short courses, including JAG School “short courses,” as follows:
Adding a Short Course: A student can self-add a Short Course via SIS until the add/drop deadline identified on the Academic Calendar. After the add/drop period date identified on the Academic Calendar, students may add short courses that have seats available at the time the request is submitted to the Student Records Office.
Dropping a Short Course: A student can self-drop a Short Course via SIS until the add/drop deadline identified on the Academic Calendar.After the add/drop date identified on the Academic Calendar, students may drop a short course by making a written request to the Student Records Office before the start of the second class session.
O. TIME CONFLICTS
Students may not enroll in courses with overlapping class meeting times no matter how minuscule the overlap. In addition, no credit will be granted for courses scheduled so close together that full attendance is unlikely. At least 15 minutes must be allowed between consecutively scheduled courses not on the same campus (North Grounds and Main Grounds are considered separate campuses for purposes of this rule). Please note that other schools’ enrollment schedules may differ from the Law School’s, and the Student Records Office may not learn of a time conflict until after the add/drop period has ended. Nevertheless, students will be dropped from one of the conflicting courses when a conflict is discovered.
P. YEARLONG COURSES
Yearlong courses are designated “(YR)” at the end of the course title. Students typically receive “CR/NC” grade after first semester (and awarded partial credit), and receive a letter grade (and the remaining credit) after completing the second semester. After the add-drop period deadline passes in the Fall, students cannot drop either the fall or spring portion of the course.
VII. Academic And Non-Academic Student Conduct Requirements
The law faculty expects law students to maintain high standards of academic, professional, and personal conduct in compliance with the standards of the legal profession and the policies of both the Law School and the University. Failure to comply with these standards constitutes misconduct and subjects a student to sanctions, as outlined in this section. Academic misconduct includes any type of cheating or plagiarism or the failure to adhere to the academic policies of the Law School or the University. Professional misconduct includes conduct that is condemned by the legal profession’s standards of professional responsibility. Personal misconduct includes behavior that harms or threatens to harm any member of the Law School or broader community, behavior that fails to abide by the standards of honesty, decency and respect that characterize the Law School, or behavior that indicates the presence of character and habits that are inconsistent with the good order of the Law School.
A law student is subject to these conduct requirements from the time that the student submits an application for admission to the Law School (leading to enrollment) to the time that the student receives an official degree. These policies may thus be invoked for misbehavior that occurs prior to a person’s joining the Law School community, and conferral of a degree does not terminate the possibility of a sanction for misbehavior that occurred prior to conferral of that degree.
Behavior constituting misconduct—as described in, and during the timeframe described in, this section—may be subject to sanction regardless of where the conduct occurs. Circumstances where misconduct may give rise to sanctions include but are not limited to students’ taking classes at the Law School (including work undertaken outside the Law School for Law School credit); participating in student organizations; and performing paid or unpaid work for a law firm, government office, judge, or other organization.
The faculty reserves the right to impose sanctions on students who are found to have violated these standards. These sanctions can include, but are not limited to, required withdrawal, suspension, required counseling, and other reasonable measures that respond to the student’s conduct. Misconduct may also make it impossible for a faculty member or administrator of the Law School to endorse a student’s character and fitness as part of the bar admission process.
The faculty has delegated the authority to make these determinations to the Student Conduct Committee, consisting of the vice dean of the Law School and faculty members appointed by the dean. The actions of that committee may be reviewed by the dean, but will be reviewed by the full faculty only at the dean’s recommendation. A description of the committee’s Procedures, as well as a summary of recent committee activity, are available on the Law School website.
In addition to these requirements, law students, like all University students, are expected to comply with the University’s Standards of Conduct, which is enforced by the Judiciary Committee, and the Honor Code, which is enforced by the Honor Committee. See www.student.virginia.edu/~judic/standards-of-conduct and www.virginia.edu/honor. Any proceeding initiated by the Law School Student Conduct Committee is conducted in addition to—and not in lieu of—a conduct proceeding initiated by the Judiciary Committee or the Honor Committee.
Activities and Organizations
Virginia Law is enriched by the scope of student organizations, extracurricular activities and the community spirit that permeates student life. Opportunities include 10 student-run academic journals, more than 60 interest-centered organizations, student self-governance (both Law School and University), and a vibrant range of social and athletic activities. In addition, the University and local community are both large enough to offer something to meet anyone’s interests and small enough to make active participation compatible with a student’s rigorous academic schedule.
The Law School offers the first professional degree in law and two graduate law degrees:
The Law School is located on the North Grounds, about a mile from the central University Grounds, as part of a graduate-professional complex that also includes the Darden School of Business. The school includes Clay Hall, the main entrance to the Law School; Withers-Brown Hall, the building to the right of the main entrance that houses classrooms, administrative and faculty offices, and the Arthur J. Morris Law Library; and Slaughter Hall, the building to the left of the main entrance that includes classrooms, student organization offices, moot courtrooms, the Law School Foundation and Alumni Association, and the Karsh Student Services Center housing the offices of Career Services, Financial Aid, Graduate Studies, Public Service, Student Affairs and Student Records. To the back of the school, Scott Commons includes a cafeteria, dining rooms, student mailboxes and study/lounge space. The Law School has wireless Internet access available to students, staff and visitors, as well as computer lab access in the Law Library.
Honors, Awards, and Scholarships
- Bracewell and Giuliani Oral Advocacy Awards: Established by the Houston firm in 1988 in connection with the Legal Research and Writing Program, this award honors one student from each first-year small section for his or her outstanding appellate brief and one student from each first-year small section for outstanding oral advocacy. Honorees receive a monetary award and certificate.Mortimer Caplin Public Service Award: Established in 1992 by Mr. Caplin, ‘40, the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service under President John F. Kennedy, this award is given at commencement to a graduating student entering a career in the public service sector who demonstrates the qualities of leadership, integrity, and service to others.
- Mortimer Caplin Public Service Fellowship: This fellowship is given to exceptional law students who accept low-paying or unpaid public service internships during the summer.
- Edwin S. Cohen Tax Prize: This monetary prize is given annually to the graduating student who has demonstrated, by the sustained excellence of his or her performance in tax courses, superior scholarship in the tax area.
- Claire Corcoran Award: This award is presented to second-year students who have demonstrated the most commitment to public interest work
- Hardy Cross Dillard Prize: Established in honor of Hardy Cross Dillard, retired Judge of the International Court of Justice and former dean and James Monroe Professor of Law, this monetary prize and plaque are awarded to the author of the best student note in a current volume of the Virginia Journal of International Law.
- Hardy Cross Dillard Scholarship: This scholarship is given to an exceptional member of the entering class based on — in addition to financial need — prior academic achievement, leadership, integrity, service to others, success in endeavors outside the classroom, and maturity. All applicants are considered for the scholarship; no separate application is required.
- Faculty Award for Academic Excellence: This award ispresented to the student who has had the most outstanding academic record during his or her three years in Law School.
- Linda Fairstein Public Service Fellowship: This fellowship is given to exceptional law students who accept low-paying or unpaid public service internships during the summer.
- Carl M. Franklin Prize: Established at his 50th reunion in 1998 by Dr. Carl M. Franklin ‘48, this award recognizes the student with the highest grade point average at the end of his or her first year of law school. The winner receives a cash award and a plaque recognizing this scholastic achievement.Robert E. Goldsten (‘40) Award: Established by Robert E. Goldsten, this award is given to the student who has, in the opinion of the faculty, contributed the most to classroom participation. The winner receives a monetary award and a lifetime membership in the University of Virginia Alumni Association.
- Eppa Hunton IV Memorial Book Award: Established in 1977 by the Richmond, Va., law firm of Hunton & Williams, in honor of Eppa Hunton IV, ‘27, this award is presented annually to a third-year student who has demonstrated unusual aptitude in litigation courses and shown a keen awareness and understanding of the lawyer’s ethical and professional responsibility.
- Margaret G. Hyde Award: Established in 1930 by Forrest J. Hyde, Jr., ‘15, this monetary award is made to an outstanding member of the graduating class whose scholarship, character, personality, activities in the affairs of the school, and promise of efficiency have, in the opinion of the law faculty, entitled him or her to special recognition.
- Jackson Walker LLP Award: This monetary award is presented by the Dallas law firm to the student who has attained the highest grade point average in his or her class after four semesters.
- Herbert Kramer/Herbert Bangel Community Service Award: Established in 1989 by Mr. Herbert Kramer, ‘52, this monetary award is given annually to a third-year student who has contributed the most to the community during Law School.
- Law School Alumni Association Best Note Award: This monetary award is presented to the member of the graduating class who wrote the best note in a current issue of a Law School publication.
- Thomas Marshall Miller Prize: Established by Emily Miller Danton in 1982 in memory of her father, Thomas Marshall Miller, who attended the Law School, this monetary award is given annually to an outstanding and deserving member of the graduating class, selected by the faculty.
- Monroe Leigh Fellowship in International Law: This fellowship was established in honor of Monroe Leigh ‘47, who in a legal career that spanned six decades advised governments and private companies and furthered the development of international legal institutions as a scholar and public servant. The fellowship provides funds for one or two students to pursue a public international law project of their own choosing during the summer following their first, second or third year.
- National Association of Women Lawyers Award: This honorary membership in the National Association of Women Lawyers is awarded each year to an outstanding member of the graduating class.
- Norton Rose Fulbright Best Memorandum Award: Established in 2005 in connection with the Legal Research and Writing Program, the award honors one student from each first-year small section for his or her outstanding major memorandum of law submitted at the end of the student’s fall semester. Honorees receive a monetary award and plaque.
- John M. Olin Prize in Law and Economics: The Olin Foundation gives a monetary award to the graduate or graduates who have produced outstanding work in the field of law and economics.
- Powell Fellowship in Legal Services: Established in honor of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., the Powell Fellowship awards funds to a graduating student or to a judicial clerk to enable him or her to work in public interest law and to enhance the delivery of legal services to the poor under the sponsorship of a public interest organization. The award is made for one year with the expectation that it will be renewed for an additional year.
- Pro Bono Award: This award recognizes the student who exhibits the most extraordinary commitment to pro bono legal service during his or her years at the Law School. The award is the highest recognition offered through the Law School’s voluntary pro bono program, which encourages all students to provide at least 75 hours of free legal services to the indigent.
- Pro Bono Service Awards: These awards are presented tograduates who have successfully fulfilled the requirements of the Law School’s Pro Bono Program.
- Mary Claiborne and Roy H. Ritter Prizes: These four prizes for character, honor, and integrity were established in 1985 by C. Willis Ritter, ‘65 to honor his parents. Under the terms of the award, four monetary prizes are given annually to two female and two male members of the second-year class. The prize is applied against each recipient’s tuition during his or her final year of study. In addition, each recipient is given an appropriate certificate and the names of the winners also appear on a plaque in the library.
- Rosenbloom Award: This monetary award was established by Daniel Rosenbloom ‘54 to honor a student with a strong academic record who has significantly enhanced the academic experience of other law students by volunteering support and assistance to them.
- Shannon Award: Established by the Z Society to encourage outstanding scholarship at the University, the award is presented each year to the student with the highest academic record after five semesters.
- Earle K. Shawe Labor Relations Award: Established in honor of the late Hardy C. Dillard, by Earle K. Shawe, ‘34, this monetary award is given to the graduating student who shows the greatest promise of becoming a successful practitioner in the field of labor relations. Shawe is the founder and senior partner of Shawe & Rosenthal, a Baltimore firm devoted exclusively to labor and employment law.
- James M. Shoemaker, Jr., Moot Court Awards: These awards are given to the final round participants in the William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition
- James C. Slaughter Honor Award: This monetary award was established by the Textile Veterans Association in honor of James C. Slaughter, ‘51, and is presented to an outstanding member of the graduating class.
- Stephen Pierre Traynor Award: This award for excellence in appellate advocacy was established in 1970 by the late Roger J. Traynor, former Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, in memory of his son. The monetary award is presented to the participant in the final round of the William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition who, in the opinion of the judges of the final round, presents the best oral argument.
- Roger and Madeleine Traynor Prize: Established in 1980 by a gift from retired Chief Justice and Mrs. Traynor of California, these prizes are awarded each year to acknowledge the best written work by two graduating students. Each winner receives an appropriate certificate and a monetary award.
- Trial Advocacy Award: The Virginia Trial Lawyers Association presents a monetary award to a graduating student who best exemplifies the attributes of an effective trial lawyer.
- Virginia State Bar Family Law Book Award: Established by the Family Law Section of the Virginia State Bar and the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, this award is presented to the graduating student who has demonstrated the most promise and potential for the practice of family law.
- A Cappellate Opinions
- Advocates for Disabled Veterans
- Advocates for Life at Virginia Law
- American Constitution Society for Law and Policy
- Asian Pacific American Law Students Association
- Barristers United
- Black Law Students Association
- Child Advocacy Research & Education
- Domestic Violence Project
- Extramural Moot Court
- Federalist Society
- Feminist Legal Forum
- Graduate Law Students Association
- Health Law Association
- JD/MBA Society
- Jean Pictet Society for International Humanitarian Law
- Jewish Law Students Association
- John Bassett Moore Society of International Law
- Korean American Law Students Association
- Lambda Law Alliance
- Latin American Law Organization
- Law Christian Fellowship
- Law Student Advocacy Project
- Legal Advisory Workshops for Undergraduate Students
- The Libel Show
- Lile Moot Court Board
- Mindfulness in Law
- National Lawyers Guild
- National Trial Advocacy Team
- Native American Law Students Association
- North Grounds Softball League
- Outdoors at VA Law
- Phi Alpha Delta
- Phillip C. Jessup International Moot Court Team
- Public Interest Law Association
- Rex E. Lee Law Society
- Rivanna Investments
- South Asian Law Students Association
- St. Thomas More Society
- Street Law
- Student Bar Association
- Student Legal Forum
- Virginia Animal Law Society
- Virginia Employment and Labor Law Association
- Virginia Entrepreneurial Society (Law School Chapter)
- Virginia Environmental Law Forum
- Virginia Law & Business Society
- Virginia Law Democrats
- Virginia Law Families
- Virginia Law in Prison Project
- Virginia Law Republicans
- Virginia Law Rod & Gun Club
- Virginia Law Students for Reproductive Justice
- Virginia Law Veterans
- Virginia Law Weekly
- Virginia Law Wine Society
- Virginia Law Women
- Virginia Society of Law & Technology
- Virginia Sports Law Society
- Volunteer Income Tax Association
- West Coast Wahoos
- Women of Color