The Office of Student Life provides academic information and policy services to faculty, staff, students, alumni, and others. Our policies and processes are designed to ensure the integrity and protection of all academic records in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA: 20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99). FERPA requires that schools have written permission from the student or graduate to release any information related to that individual's education record.
The office provides academic guidance and counseling, programing designed to enrich each student's intellectual and professional development and acts as a liaison between students, the faculty, and law school administration.
The Academic Life Office facilitates the registration process in conjunction with the University Registrar's Office. The Director of Academic Life is available for individual advising sessions and holds larger sessions to review all degree requirements.
Our office manages the final exam period and ensures that all exams are graded anonymously. Our Exam HQ program provides education and support to students regarding exam procedures. Once grades are posted for the semester we facilitate an exam review process to help students better understand their performance.
The Academic Life Office assists students on their journey to becoming licensed attorneys. Our Bar Prep Week provides programming to demystify the bar application and exam process, including a bar application information session, a bar prep vendor session, and office hours. Additionally, all bar forms requiring certification (frequently entitled Dean's Certification) are submitted to the Academic Life Office.
Grades are due 30 days after the end of the exam period and are made available to students as soon as possible thereafter. Students are graded on the grading scale below:
Vanderbilt Law School does not rank its students.
Anonymous grading is accomplished by a carefully planned system in which each student receives a randomly-assigned identification number for each exam. Students are not personally identified until the professor reports the grades of the written examination. Any adjustments to the exam grades, for class performance or other reasons, are made separately. Students may obtain the exam grade from the Student Life Office.
Re-grading and re-examination are not accepted practices in the Law School. Such measures would be in serious conflict with the anonymous grading system and are not regarded as appropriate methods to administer a fair, uniform, unbiased grading system. Accordingly, grade changes are made only in the event of a clerical error.
Each year, a number of Vanderbilt Law students are honored for academic and other achievements. See below for the academic and achievement honors and awards available to students.
The Founder's Medal, signifying first honors, was endowed by Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt as one of his gifts to Vanderbilt University. It is awarded to the student in the graduating class who has attained the highest grade point average, having completed at least 55 credit hours and five full-time semesters in residence at Vanderbilt.
The Order of the Coif, the national legal scholarship society, has a chapter at Vanderbilt. Election to membership in the order is limited to those students in the top 10 percent of the senior class who have completed at least 75 percent of their law studies (66 class hours) as graded class hours. Graded courses are those for which grades in the A+ through F range are awarded and are recorded on the transcript. Courses taken on a pass-fail basis are not included. Because Vanderbilt accepts transfer credits but not grades, it is unlikely a transfer student can meet the 75% rule to qualify for Order of the Coif.
Awarded annually to the student judged to have made the most significant contribution to the work of the Legal Aid Society.
Selected and awarded by the Jessup Moot Court competition team to the member who has made the greatest contribution to the team's overall success during the prior year. This award was established in memory of Thomas Cloney Banks (J.D. 1983).
Endowed, and awarded "to the student of the senior law class, who is not only well versed in the law, but who embodies the highest conception of the ethics of the profession, and who would strive to 'Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God,' as did the one in whose memory the prize is given and whose name it bears, Bennett Douglas Bell."
Presented annually to the third-year law student who has a keen dedication to legal activism and a demonstrated commitment to confronting social issues facing both Vanderbilt Law School and the greater Nashville community.
Awarded each year to the senior who has exhibited a high degree of scholastic achievement in transnational legal studies and who has made the most significant contribution to the development of international legal inquiry while a student of Vanderbilt Law School. This award was endowed by Mr. Briggs (J.D. 1969) in memory of his parents.
Presented annually to the student, chosen by the Vanderbilt Bar Association Board of Governors, who is dedicated to the law and its problem-solving role in society, and who provides exemplary leadership in service to the Law School and the greater community. The award has been endowed by Mr. Davidson's family and friends.
Awarded in the Law School to that senior member of the Moot Court staff, other than the chief justice, who has rendered the most outstanding service throughout the school year in all aspects of the Moot Court program.
Awarded to "that member of the second-year law class who has maintained the highest scholastic average during the two years." This prize was established in 1945 by Mrs. Robert F. Jackson in memory of her husband, who was for many years an esteemed member of the Board of Trust.
Awarded to the student submitting the most outstanding piece of student writing for publication in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law.
Awarded each year to a student who demonstrates a dedication to developing a sense of community among his or her classmates with a strong capacity for leadership and commitment to his or her legal studies. This award was endowed by the Class of 2011 to honor the memory of their friend and classmate Chris Lantz.
Awarded to the student, other than the editor-in-chief, who has made the most significant contribution to the advancement of the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law.
Awarded to the student, other than the recipient of the Morgan Prize, who contributed the best student Note published in the Vanderbilt Law Review.
Awarded by the second-year staff of the Vanderbilt Law Review to the third-year staff member, other than the editor-in-chief, who has made the most significant contribution to their development as staff members of the Vanderbilt Law Review.
Awarded annually to a third-year editorial board member who has made the most significant contribution to the Vanderbilt Law Review.
Awarded for outstanding achievement in the completion of a scholarly research and writing project.
Awarded annually for Best Brief and Best Oralist in each of the eight sections of the first-year Legal Research and Writing course. This award is sponsored by Lightfoot, Franklin & White of Birmingham, Alabama, to support the teaching of practical legal skills in the Law School curriculum.
Awarded to the student of the first-year class who has earned the highest general average for the year. The late Mr. H. L. Martin of New York City made provision for the prize, which is given in honor of his son, who was a member of the first-year class when he died in 1923.
Awarded in the Law School to the student contributing the most outstanding piece of student writing to the Vanderbilt Law Review during the academic year.
Awarded by the Cecil D. Branstetter Litigation and Dispute Resolution Program to a student in the graduating class for extraordinary achievement in the study of litigation and dispute resolution.
Awarded to the student whose Law School involvement best fulfills the goals of contributing to the advancement of women in society and promoting women's issues in the legal profession, and who has exhibited tenacity, enthusiasm and academic achievement while earning the respect of others. The Association provides an honorary membership for a year, which includes receipt of its publications and other membership benefits.
Award given to the student judged to have made the greatest contribution to the quality of life at the Law School through his or her leadership with the Vanderbilt Bar Association.
Awarded to the law student who submitted the best paper in the field of jurisprudence or legal history, in the fulfillment of the Law School's advanced writing requirement.
Awarded to the student who, in his or her representation of clients in the Law School's clinical program, demonstrated excellence in practice of law and best exemplified the highest standards of the legal profession.
Awarded to the member of the third-year staff selected as having done the most outstanding work on the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law during the academic year.
Awarded to the student designated by the professor as receiving the highest grade in all courses except seminars and limited enrollment courses.
Awarded to the student in the graduating class who submitted the best paper in the fulfillment of the Law School's advanced writing requirement.
Awarded to the member of the graduating class contributing the best Note submitted for publication in the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law.
Awarded to the editorial board member, other than the editor-in-chief, selected as having done the most outstanding work on the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law during the academic year.
Awarded to the second-year staff member who has made the most significant contribution to the advancement of the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law during the academic year. This award was endowed in 2008 by Masamichi Yamamoto, Class of 2007, who served on the editorial staff in 2005-06 and 2006-07, in memory of his mother, Michiko Yamamoto.
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