Vanderbilt University Law School

Vanderbilt Law School

Vanderbilt Law School

Vanderbilt University Law School

131 21st Ave S,
Nashville, TN 37203

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J.D. Class of 2016 (first-year students, 2013-14)

  • 3,296 applications
  • 174 students (three first-year sections of 58 students)
  • 40% women
  • 17% minority
  • 23 median age
  • 35 states, Washington, DC and 5 foreign citizens
  • 109 undergraduate colleges represented
  • 13 students (7%) hold advanced degrees including MA, MAT, MBA, MS, PhD


TipppingTheScales (2013): 20
U.S. News (2013): 15
AboveTheLaw (2013): 15


Academics & Programs: Motivated legal eagles tend to fall in love with Vanderbilt University Law School’s “collegial, relaxed environment.” This “collegiality sets it apart from most other law schools of similar academic reputation.” “The people are incredible, the classes are interesting and challenging, the building is beautiful, and [hometown] Nashville is the best city in the world.” Others add, “You get all the benefits of a top-five law school, both faculty-wise and job-wise, but in a comfortable and low-key environment.”

Academically speaking, Vanderbilt offers an array of joint-degree, specialized, interdisciplinary and clinical offerings. Education here begins with “an orientation week ‘boot-camp’ course called Life of the Law,” during which “all 1L’s are brought up to speed. [The course] gives everyone a sense of what law school [will] be like.” Though many tout the overall academic experience at Vanderbilt as “fantastic,” with “great faculty” and “bright, sociable students,” some students desire “more practical experiences. The only classes that really focus on skills are limited enrollment and/or clinical courses (our clinic is awesome by the way).”

The top brass has taken steps to implement classes that remain on “the cutting edge of legal education.” Students who have felt the effect of these changes say, “There are numerous specialization programs you can choose from. The most well-known and demanding is probably the law and business program.” Students in this specialization benefit from “the ability to…gain practical experience from actual practitioners.” The legal writing program, however, continues to be “less than inspiring” and “somewhat weak, as compared to the rest of the curriculum.”

Professors at Vanderbilt “are outstanding; they challenge you to find good arguments and are very fair with students. You can tell they want to teach, not just do research.” In addition, there are “outstanding opportunities for practical experience (externships, clinics).” When it comes to outside help, “Professors are beyond accessible.” They “invite us to their houses for dinner and go out of their way to find us jobs.” Overall students say the administration “is super involved in student life.” “You can easily find a Dean with whom you feel comfortable.” “The administration goes above and beyond to look out for the well-being of the students, especially during the first year when students are adjusting to law school.” Others have a more mixed view, pointing out that though the administration tries to be “helpful and responsive to student needs,” “they don’t listen to what we actually need versus what they think we need.”

In the wake of recent renovations, classrooms at Vanderbilt are “comfortable and up-to-date on technology with remote-control everything. Many of the smaller classrooms are beautiful conference rooms with high-tech amenities. Even the hallways are littered with lounge furniture.” When it comes to students’ list of gripes, very few rumblings are heard save for a few complaints about the “tough job market.” Some feel that Career Services “does not do enough to give us access to alumni or search out alternative career paths.” Others cite a “strong alumni network” and applaud “a strong Career Services staff” that has “eased the stress of the floundering economy.” As one student aptly appends, “law school opens doors, but the extent to which certain doors will always [be open] depends on the student.”

Campus Life/Facilities: Students here “are without a doubt the most social group of law students in the top twenty and Vandy facilitates this.” A mixture of book smart and social butterfly, students say the typical Vanderbilt law student tends to be “a little bit younger on average than some other law schools.” The law school here “is extremely collegial” and there is never a lack of social activities; “Mondays are trivia night at the local bars. We all get together for bar review on Thursdays. Fridays are free dinner and drinks at the law school…People gather around the free drink station across from our mailboxes in the mornings, and there are talks by industry giants (with free lunch) nearly every day.” These institutional opportunities for connecting with colleagues “serves [you] well when you need class notes, a study group, or just some stress relief.” Overall, quality of life “is exceptional.”

Hometown Nashville is “a fine city with a vibrant nightlife and excellent restaurants.” Others add, it’s “a fantastic town to go to law school in because it’s chill, young, and fun.” One lighthearted law student here jokes, “It is February nineteenth and it’s sixty-one degrees, eat your heart out, Harvard.” Known to foster a “balance of work and play,” Vanderbilt “is big enough to be nationally competitive and to offer a huge variety of courses and activities, and small enough that you will know most of the people at the weekly Friday kegger. And yes, we really do have (free) weekly Friday keggers. It’s awesome.”

* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.