Villanova University School of Law

Villanova University's Charles Widger School of Law (known as Villanova University School of Law) is a law school and part of the Villanova University System. Villanova University in general is the oldest and largest Catholic University in Pennsylvania. The University is located 25 minutes from Center City Philadelphia in the Main Line suburb of Villanova, Pennsylvania.

Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law
Parent schoolVillanova University
Religious affiliationRoman Catholic (Augustinian)
Established1953; 67 years ago (1953)
School typePrivate
DeanMark Alexander
LocationVillanova, PA
USNWR ranking62nd[1]
WebsiteVillanova Law Website
Vls logo.gif

Opened in 1953, the School of Law is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). Approximately 720 students study full-time in the J.D. program which offers more than 100 offerings including foundation courses, specialty offerings, drafting courses, clinical experiences, seminars, simulation courses and externships. The student/faculty ratio is 17:1.[2]

In November 2007, the Villanova School of Law began construction on a new building to house classrooms, offices, and research facilities.[3] The building was completed in August 2009. The new facility was built according to LEED standards and incorporate a park like setting with a walking trail.[4]

Degrees awardedEdit

Juris Doctor (JD)Edit

Villanova offers a legal education designed to teach the rules of law and their application; to demonstrate how lawyers analyze legal issues and express arguments and conclusions; to inculcate the skills of the counselor, advocate, and decision maker; and to explore the ethical and moral dimensions of law practice and professional conduct.[citation needed]

Joint JD/MBA programEdit

The Villanova University School of Law and the Villanova School of Business offer a joint-degree program permitting simultaneous study for the Juris Doctor and the Master of Business Administration degrees. The Villanova School of Business is one of the few business schools in the nation whose Master of Business Administration and Department of Accountancy program have been approved by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.[citation needed] In the program, credit is given for certain courses by both the School of Law and the School of Business. Through this program, degrees may be completed in less time than it would take to obtain them separately.[5]

Graduate Tax ProgramEdit

The Graduate Tax Program is an interdisciplinary program led by Leslie M. Book conducted under the auspices of the Villanova University School of Law and Villanova's School of Business. The program has over 30 courses, which are also available to JD candidates, who are able to enroll in LL.M. courses as well as participate in the joint JD/LL.M. program.[6] Business students participating in the Graduate Tax Program may earn a Master of Science in Taxation (MST) degree.

Moorad Center for the Study of Sports LawEdit

The Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law was created in 2012, and was funded by a $5 million donation from San Diego Padres vice chairman and CEO Jeffrey S. Moorad (a 1981 graduate of the law school). The Center prepares students for careers in sports-related fields.[7] It is one of only a few in the United States dedicated to the study of sports law, and it is run by director Andrew Brandt, a lawyer, former NFL team executive, and ESPN commentator.[8]

Special programsEdit

Beyond the skills of written and oral expression developed in the first-year writing program and the required upper-level moot court program, drafting, and seminar courses, Villanova University School of Law students acquire the fundamental skills of the practicing lawyer—including counseling, negotiation, advocacy, mediation, dispute resolution, conciliation, and mature judgment.[citation needed] Hands-on clinical opportunities allow students to apply classroom experiences to real-world client representation, often while performing public service. Clinical programs include Federal Tax; Civil Justice; Asylum, Refugee, and Emigrant Services; and Farmworkers Legal Aid.[9]

The school also strives to provide leadership in information technology, law and psychology, taxation, and international law, among other fields.[citation needed]

Rankings and honorsEdit

The 2021 edition of U.S. News & World Report's "Best Graduate Schools" ranked Villanova Law at 62nd in the country overall.[10] In previous years, U.S. News & World Report's "Best Graduate Schools" ranked Villanova Law #71 (2020), #65 (2019), #77 (2018), #74 (2017), #87 (2016), #93 (2015), #98 (2014), #101 (2013), #84 (2012), #67 (2011), and #61 (2010).

The 2020 edition of Above the Law's Top 50 Law Schools ranked Villanova as the 32nd best law school in the country.[11]

In 2015, the National Law Journal ranked Villanova Law as the #34 "Go-To" law school based on its employment statistics with the nation's largest law firms.[12]

Class StatisticsEdit

Fall 2016 Entering Class Profile:[13]

  • Total Number Applicants: 1783
  • Total Enrolled: 222
  • In-state: 49%
  • Out-of-state: 51%
  • Students of Color: 18.5%
  • Undergraduate Schools Represented: 121


  • Median GPA: 3.54
  • 25th Percentile GPA: 3.24
  • 75th Percentile GPA: 3.7


  • Median LSAT: 157
  • 25th Percentile LSAT: 153
  • 75th Percentile LSAT: 159

Notable facultyEdit

Notable alumniEdit


According to Villanova's official 2014 ABA-required disclosures, 70% of the Class of 2014 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo practitioners.[34]

ABA Employment Summary for 2014 Graduates[35]
Employment Status Percentage
Employed – Bar Passage Required
Employed – J.D. Advantage
Employed – Professional Position
Employed – Non-Professional Position
Employed – Undeterminable
Pursuing Graduate Degree Full Time
Unemployed – Start Date Deferred
Unemployed – Not Seeking
Unemployed – Seeking
Employment Status Unknown
Total of 220 Graduates

Pro bono programsEdit

Pro bono programs, such as the clinics and other projects, provide students with the opportunity to serve the disadvantaged while developing skills and positive relationships with practicing attorneys.[36]

Lawyering TogetherEdit

Villanova Law's student body has the opportunity to participate in the "Lawyering Together" program. Through the program, law students are matched with volunteer attorneys who assist clients referred through Philadelphia pro bono organizations.[37] The referring organizations include Senior Law Center, Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program (VIP) and the Support Center for Child Advocates.[38]

Recent DeansEdit

Mark SargentEdit

Sargent graduated magna cum laude in 1973 from Wesleyan, received an M.A. in Medieval Studies in 1975 from Cornell University, and graduated from Cornell Law School in 1978. He began teaching law in 1980, was the Piper & Marbury Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Director of the Law & Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Maryland School of Law. He has also previously taught law at American University, Southern Methodist University and the University of Baltimore Schools of Law.[39]

In 2006, Dean Sargent worked with the Pepper Hamilton LLP to launch a diversity initiative that included two full tuition scholarships for minority students and hiring two Villanova Law School minority students each year as first-year summer associates and then as part-time law clerks during their second or third academic years.[40] In July 2009, Villanova Law School Dean Mark Sargent resigned, citing medical and personal reasons.[41] A week later, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Sargent was connected with the solicitation of prostitution, although he was never charged.[42] In February 2011, Villanova's newly appointed dean, John Gotanda, revealed that a Law School committee had determined that the under the leadership of the former Dean Mark Sargent, false statistical data including entrance LSAT scores had been reported to the American Bar Association about incoming students for several years before 2010. As a result, the American Bar Association issued a censure to the school[43] A 2-year probation was also issued by the AALS.[44] Villanova began a comprehensive internal investigation and commissioned an independent audit by Ropes & Gray to determine the nature and scope of the false reporting.[45]

John GotandaEdit

Dean John Gotanda became dean at Villanova University School of Law on January 1, 2011, after having previously served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Dean for Faculty Research, and Director of the J.D./M.B.A. Program.[46] Dean Gotanda received his J.D. from the William S. Richardson School of Law, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the University of Hawaii Law Review. Before coming to Villanova in 1994 he was a staff attorney with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He also worked as an associate attorney with Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., and later with Goodwin, Procter & Hoar in Boston.[47] In February 2016, Dean Gotanda was named president of Hawai‘i Pacific University.

Mark AlexanderEdit

Dean Mark Alexander became dean of the law school on July 1, 2016, due to Dean Gotanda becoming president of Hawai‘i Pacific University. Alexander was previously the Associate Dean for Academics at Seton Hall School of Law. Prior to his Seton Hall Law School role, he clerked for Chief Judge Thelton Henderson of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California from 1992–93 and was a litigator with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in San Francisco from 1993-95. Alexander earned both his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor degrees from Yale University.[48][49]


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  33. ^ "Richard Trumka". Notable Names Data Base. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  34. ^ "Employment Data".
  35. ^ "Employment Summary for 2014 Graduates".
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  41. ^ David Lat (7/3/09) Dean Mark Sargent - You Can Call Him John Above the Law. Retrieved 2/5/11.
  42. ^ Jeff Blumenthal (7/7/09) Villanova dean resigned over prostitution Philadelphia Business Journal. Retrieved 2/5/11.
  43. ^ "Villanova Law censured by ABA over admissions-data fraud, but retains accreditation". August 11, 2011.
  44. ^ "2011 ABA Public Censure Documents". Villanova University School of Law. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  45. ^ Martha Neil (2/4/11) [2] ABA Journal. Retrieved 2/5/11.
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External linksEdit