J.D. Program Learning Outcomes

Approved by the Curriculum Committee 8/15/16

Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

Virginia is famous for its collegial environment that bonds students and faculty. Students share their experiences in a cooperative spirit, in and out of the classroom, as they develop into skilled lawyers and build a lasting professional network. Students are also governed by Virginia’s Honor System, which requires them to act honorably in every aspect of student life, thereby building a community of trust, facilitating the pursuit of knowledge and truth, and instilling the integrity that Virginia law graduates are expected to display throughout their careers.

The law faculty has established the following learning outcomes for Virginia’s J.D. program of legal education:

1. Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law.

a) Students should understand and be able to apply key principles of law in foundational legal topics:  civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts.

b) Students should understand and be able to apply key principles of law in advanced legal topics, such as business organization and finance, commercial law, communication and media law, constitutional law, criminal justice, employment and labor law, environmental and land use law, family law, health law, human rights and civil liberties, intellectual property, international and national security law, jurisprudence and comparative law, legal history, litigation and procedure, public policy and regulation, race and law, and tax law.

c) Students should be well-prepared to take and pass state bar examinations.

2. Legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication in the legal context.

a) Students should be able to identify legal issues and research and apply relevant procedural and substantive law.

b) Students should be able to communicate clearly and effectively, orally and in writing, in a manner appropriate to the audience and purpose. 

3. Exercise of proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients in the legal system.

a) Students should identify and be able to resolve situations where lawyers have professional and ethical obligations, including those that might arise as a representative of a client, an officer of the court, or in other situations involving the legal profession’s standards of professional responsibility. 

4. Other professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession.

a) Students should understand and be able to apply advanced lawyering skills developed through academic offerings in any area they choose to emphasize, such as business methods, litigation, negotiations, public speaking and persuasion, transactional planning and drafting, the formation and implementation of laws and public policy, and participation in clinics and externships.

b) Students should be able to develop professional skills, such as leadership, collaboration, and advocacy, and foster a commitment to public service through extracurricular activities, such as involvement in student organizations, participation in moot courts and academic journals, and engagement with pro bono service.