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University of Wisconsin Law School

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University of Wisconsin Law School
Established 1868
School type Public
Dean Margaret Raymond
Location Madison, WI, US
Faculty (See List)
Annual tuition
Outlines 0 (See List)
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University of Wisconsin Law School is located in Madison, WI

The University of Wisconsin Law School is the professional school for the study of law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison, Wisconsin. The law school was founded in 1868.


The law school is situated on Bascom Hill, the center of the UW-Madison campus. In 1996, the law school completed a major renovation project that joined two previous buildings and created a four-story glass atrium. The renovation was recognized by the American Institute of Architects for its innovative design, incorporating modern design into the 150 years of architecture on historic Bascom Hill. In addition to lecture halls and smaller classrooms, the law school contains a fully-functional trial courtroom, appellate courtroom, and an extensive law library. The library is notable for the 1942 mural "The Freeing of the Slaves" by John Steuart Curry that dominates the Quarles & Brady Reading Room (also known as the "Old Reading Room").

Legal philosophy

The University of Wisconsin Law School is known for its "law in action" legal philosophy. This legal philosophy is based on the concept that, in order to truly understand the law, students must not only know the “law on the books,” but must also look beyond the statutes and cases to study how the law plays out in practice. The law school's curriculum emphasizes areas the interplay between law and society, in classroom discussions, clinical programs, and in its numerous collaborations with the departments and colleges throughout the University of Wisconsin.

Within the University of Wisconsin Law School community, some professors are more devoted to the law in action philosophy than others. One trusts & estates professor, for instance, devotes a portion of every lecture to the law in action concept. Other classes have their overall structure designed to emphasize law-in-action--for instance, starting a contracts course with the concept of remedies rather than formation of contract, or starting a criminal law course with sentencing. Still, many law professors at the University never mention the theory. Notably, some discussions of the law-in-action theory tend to devolve into a conclusion that judges effectively do whatever they want based on their own whims, prejudices or sense of fairness, rather than the rule of law.

Journals and publications

Like most law schools, the University of Wisconsin publishes a number of scholarly journals and law reviews. The flagship journal is the Wisconsin Law Review, which was founded in 1920 and became one of the nation's first entirely student-run law reviews in 1935. Students at the law school also publish two specialty journals: the Wisconsin International Law Journal [1], established in 1982, and the Wisconsin Women's Law Journal, established in 1985. A third specialty journal, the Wisconsin Environmental Law Journal, was founded in 1994 but discontinued publication in 2002.

Clinical programs

The law school puts a great emphasis on its clinical programs, as part of its law-in-action curriculum. The most well-known clinic is the Frank J. Remington Center, named after the late UW law professor Frank J. Remington. The Center runs a variety of programs focused on various aspects in the practice of criminal law. The largest program in the Center is the Legal Assistance to Institutionalized Persons (LAIP) Project, which provides legal services to inmates incarcerated in Wisconsin. The Center also runs clinics focused on criminal defense, criminal prosecution, criminal appeals, community oriented policing, and a well-respected Innocence Project, which has had notable success in reversing the judgments against defendants who were wrongfully convicted. The law school also runs a group of clinics focusing on civil law called the Economic Justice Institute. This clinical trio includes the Neighborhood Law Project, which serves underrepresented clients in landlord/tenant, workers' rights, and public benefit disputes; the Family Court Assistance Project; and the Consumer Law Clinic.


The most visible tradition at the law school is that of the Gargoyle. The Gargoyle graced the roof of the original law school building, built in 1893. That building was torn down in 1963, but the gargoyle was found, intact, amongst the rubble, and was saved as an unofficial mascot. The Gargoyle became the symbol of the law school, and was displayed outside the law school building for many years. With the new renovation, it moved to a more protected location inside the law school atrium. The image of the gargoyle graces the cover of the Wisconsin Law Review, and the law school alumni magazine is titled, aptly, Gargoyle. Its image has been applied to ties, coffee cups, tee shirts and all sorts of other law school memorabilia. In addition to the Gargoyle, "Blind Bucky" is also sometimes used as an unofficial mascot of the Law School.[2]

Another unusual tradition of the law school is homecoming cane toss, which dates from some time in the 1930s. Before the University's homecoming football game, third-year law students run from the north end of the football field at Camp Randall Stadium to the south end wearing bowler hats and carrying canes. When the students reach the goalpost on the south end of the field, they attempt to throw their canes over the goalpost. Legend has it that if the student successfully throws the cane over the goalpost and catches it, he will win his first case; if he fails to catch it, the opposite will hold true.

Another tradition at the law school is an annual fall competitive challenge between the law and medical schools at the University. This set of competitions is called the Dean's Cup and not only serves as a social outlet for law and med students, but also raises funds to support local charities.

Diploma privilege

The University of Wisconsin Law School is one of only two law schools in the United States whose graduates enjoy diploma privilege as a method of admission to the bar. Unlike all other jurisdictions in the United States, Wisconsin's state bar allows graduates of accredited law schools within the state to join the bar without taking the state's bar examination if they complete certain requirements in their law school courses and achieve a certain level of performance in those courses. The other school with this privilege is the Marquette University Law School.

Wisconsin residents who graduate from out-of-state law schools must pass the bar exam to be admitted to the bar in Wisconsin. Similarly, law graduates of Wisconsin or Marquette must pass the bar of any other state to which they wish to be admitted. Some states, but not all, will grant reciprocal admission to Wisconsin bar members admitted by diploma privilege after they have completed a certain number of years in the practice of law.

Notable faculty

Notable alumni

External links


Template:University of Wisconsin-Madison