Messages for Law Students

A Message to Returning Students (May 8, 2020)

To Members of the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2022:

Having concluded our unprecedented spring semester at W&L Law with a wonderful Degree Conferral ceremony for the Class of 2020 this morning, I wanted to reach out to returning members of the W&L Law community with one simple message:  We are eager to welcome you back to Lewis Hall this August.   

We are intent on returning to in-person education, and my colleagues on the faculty and administration have been actively planning to make that goal a reality.  We are also committed to maintaining a healthy environment for all members of our community - students, faculty and staff.   

As referenced in President Dudley's message this morning, the Law School has convened an academic working group to plan a calendar and course schedule that will maximize the prospect of completing the upcoming year on campus.  That committee consists of Dean Baluarte, Prof. Belmont, Prof. King, Prof. Hasbrouck, and myself.  We have been meeting diligently over the past several weeks, and we periodically have consulted with the full faculty on our deliberations.  As a first step in what will be an ongoing process, our committee will submit our initial recommendations to President Dudley by May 15.   

Our committee's top priority is to develop a calendar and course schedule that will ensure that our students will experience the best we have to offer - a rigorous, in-person education set in a supportive, collegial, and close-knit community - while also taking steps necessary to preserve and support a healthy and safe environment.  The Law School's small size, wide array of dedicated spaces, and motivated faculty and staff provide us with unique opportunities to meet these twin goals.  We are fully cognizant that our plans to return to in-person education may be constrained by governmental orders and public health guidance, but we will do all we can for our community to reconvene.  Although we are not in a position to make any formal announcements regarding specifics at this point, we will do so at the earliest opportunity.  

We take great pride in our brand of legal education - one grounded in the relationships that develop among members of the student body, faculty, and staff.  Those relationships are fostered by our interactions with one another in Lewis Hall, so we are eager to return to that setting.  Doing so likely will require sacrifices by all of us so that we can preserve as healthy an environment as possible, but gathering once again in person will be well worth it.   

Regardless of the landscape in the fall, the character of our school will continue unabated.  We will be invested in you, in your development as an individual and as a legal professional, and in your success after graduation.  We will continue to offer our student-focused brand of legal education aimed at producing, in the terms of our Mission Statement, "broad-minded, highly skilled, and honorable practitioners of law."  

Brant Hellwig, Dean and Professor of Law