Seminar students Rebecca Gantt and Fritz Spainhour
The Supreme Court, Up Close and Personal
Two of Virginia Law's constitutional law scholars recently led an intensive 12-student seminar focusing on the 2008-09 Supreme Court term. Students in the course read and discussed one significant opinion from the Supreme Court each week.
"Because most cases you read in law school have been condensed and edited to illustrate a specific principle, studying the court's complete opinions in depth gave me an unusual insight into the nuances of both the decisions and the justices who wrote them," said Fritz Spainhour '11. "The professors, who both clerked for the Supreme Court after graduating from UVA Law, had an endless supply of entertaining stories from their time with the court. This class exemplified what makes UVA Law great: wonderful professors, accomplished alumni and opportunities you can't get anywhere else."
Guest speakers included Slate Supreme Court reporter Dahlia Lithwick and a veteran litigator who discussed a case he had argued in the term students were studying. Several students in the class later traveled to the Supreme Court to see the litigator at an oral argument. They also toured the court and ate lunch with current clerks who were also Virginia alumni, said student Rebecca Gantt '11.
Gantt said she enjoyed being able to see how the justices interacted over the course of the term.
"You can pick out strains that certain justices seem to emphasize, or puzzle over seemingly inconsistent alignments from case to case.
"Each class, we would read a decision from the past term of the Supreme Court. One student would write a background paper, which included research on the decisions below, briefs filed by the parties, and oral argument. Another would write a critique, in which they made arguments about the various opinions in the case. We also had to generate questions about the cases we read prior to class which served as the basis of our class discussions.
"It teaches you to speak and write critically of a subject matter over which you might have absolutely no prior experience. For example, numerous cases that we read involved evidentiary issues or criminal procedure, classes that I have never had. Nevertheless, I was still expected to closely analyze the reasonings in the cases.
"I loved the class. It was the first seminar I took at the Law School and it was a great one."
Students at Virginia Law benefit from courses and opportunities that prepare them for academic careers or to practice law at the highest levels of the profession.
Among Virginia's 250 courses each year, several classes help students refine advanced writing and skills that aid in the process of academic legal work or other kinds of advanced practice, such as appellate litigation.
Sample Courses (All Courses)
Advanced Legal Research
Advanced Topics in the First Amendment
Advanced Topics in the Law of War
American Legal Realism
Class Actions and Complex Litigation
Constitutional History I: American Revolution to 1865
Constitutional History II: The 20th Century
Contemporary Political Theory
Criminal Law in the Supreme Court
Current Issues in Corporate Law and Governance
Current Issues in International Financial Regulation
Empirical Methods in the Law
Expertise, Science and the Law of Evidence
First Amendment Theory
Law and Game Theory
Issues in Criminal Law Theory
Law and Economics Colloquium
Law and Literature
Legal Process: Basic Problems
Religion, Democracy and Law
Rescue, Charity and Justice
Social and Legal History
Social Science in Law
Supreme Court Justices and the Art of Judging
Topics in Corporate Governance
Trade Secrets: History, Theory and Practice
Urban Law and Policy
Clinics (All Clinics)
Appellate Litigation Clinic
Supreme Court Litigation Clinic
From 2005 to today, Virginia Law is fourth after Harvard, Yale and Stanford in the number of alumni who have clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court, including two clerks during the 2012-13 term. More
Virginia promotes interdisciplinary scholarship through the option to earn advanced degrees in a number of fields, including English, government/foreign affairs, history, philosophy, public policy, business, urban and environmental planning, public health and accounting. The Law School also offers several external dual-degree programs in conjunction with other universities. More
Students in some courses are invited to attend workshops in which faculty from UVA Law and across the country present their works in progress on cutting-edge legal topics. In the workshop series sponsored by the Program on Legal and Consitutional History, students in the dual J.D.-master's in history program can present their own work for feedback from faculty and their peers.
UVA Law Workshop Series