Our Mission

ASL exists to provide opportunity for people from Appalachia and beyond to realize their dreams of practicing law and bettering their communities. We attract a qualified, diverse and dedicated student body, many of whom will remain in the region after graduation and serve as legal counselors, advocates, judges, mediators, community leaders, and public officials. We offer a nationally recruited, diverse, and well-qualified faculty, a rigorous program for the professional training of lawyers and a comprehensive law library. The program emphasizes professional responsibility, dispute resolution, and practice skills. The ASL community is an exciting, student-centered environment that emphasizes honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect for others. We also emphasize community service and provide a resource for people, the bar, courts and other institutions of the region. (Adopted by the Board of Trustees, June, 2013)


Our History

In late 1993, Joseph E. Wolfe, a Norton, Virginia attorney, proposed to establish a law school in southwestern Virginia. Within six months, his proposal attracted the support of regional business executives, civic leaders, attorneys, and educators.

In late 1994, a Steering Committee formed that eventually grew to eighty members. This committee chartered ASL as a Virginia non stock corporation, secured tax exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, and drafted ASL’s preliminary mission statement. The Steering Committee also prepared a feasibility study for the new law school.

In early May 1995, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia approved establishment of ASL.

In April 1996 Buchanan County signed a compact with ASL, under the terms of which ASL received its main academic and library buildings and their grounds, funds for renovation of the buildings, and funds towards operating costs. The Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal agency, also contributed funds to ASL’s operating costs.

In April 1997, the Commonwealth of Virginia Council of Higher Education granted ASL authorization to enroll students in courses leading to the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. ASL held its first faculty meeting on August 8, 1997, and its first classes on August 12, 1997, with nine faculty members in residence and seventy one students in attendance.

ASL Charter Class graduated on May 12, 2000. On February 19, 2001, ASL received provisional approval from the American Bar Association. On June 12, 2006, ASL received full approval from the American Bar Association.