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American University Washington College of Law


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Contact Information

4300 Nebraska Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016

Phone: 202.274.4101
Email: wcladmit@wcl.american.edu
Website: www.wcl.american.edu
ABA Data: www.wcl.american.edu/admiss/consumer.cfm

Introduction

American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL) offers an opportunity for the study of law in the center of the nation’s legal institutions. The law school moved to its new home at Tenley Campus in January 2016. Located one block from the Tenleytown Metro Station, this eight-acre campus is minutes from downtown DC, while still offering a green campus environment in one of the city’s most beautiful neighborhoods. Founded in 1896 by two women, the law school is national in character. AUWCL offers renowned programs in experiential learning (clinics, externships, trial advocacy), international law, law and government, intellectual property, business, environmental law, human rights, and gender. It is committed to the development of the intellectual abilities, professional values, and practical skills required to prepare lawyers to practice in an increasingly complex and transnational world.

Library and Physical Facilities

The Tenley Campus, solely for the law school, comprises three buildings and plenty of green space, including a courtyard and terrace seating. The Yuma Building includes classrooms, faculty and program offices, Claudio Grossman Hall for special events, and the dining hall.

The Warren Building contains classrooms, the Ceremonial Courtroom, and the Pence Law Library. The three-story library has private group study rooms, individual study carrels, a Reading Room, the Goodman Rare Book Room, and more informal lounge areas for group study.

The Capital Building houses administrative offices, the law journals and other student-edited publications, and a courthouse that includes the Weinstein Courtroom and smaller courtrooms. There is also a three-story Atrium with a café and informal seating area.

Curriculum

The law school offers full- and part-time programs leading to the JD degree, which is awarded after satisfactory completion of 86 credit hours, 32 of which are prescribed. All degree candidates must also fulfill an upper-level writing requirement. While a modified version of the Socratic method is the dominant form of teaching in the first year, faculty increasingly employ such methodologies as role-playing, simulations, and small-group collaborative exercises. The goal is to develop the skills of critical analysis, provide perspectives on the law and lawyering, and deepen understanding of fundamental legal principles. In the Legal Rhetoric Program, basic legal research and writing skills are taught to groups of students by full-time faculty (23 students per section) and practicing attorneys (12 students per section). During the spring semester of the first year, students enroll in an elective first-year course in addition to their required courses. Examples of first-year elective courses are International Law, Introduction to Intellectual Property Law, and Introduction to Public Law. In the second and third years, students elect a course of study drawing from advanced courses, seminars, independent research, externships, and clinical programs. JD students take upper-level courses with LLM students, learning side by side with more than 180 practicing attorneys from around the world. Students are exposed to a variety of teaching approaches by the law school’s distinguished full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty and adjunct professors.

Special Programs

While many of the advanced courses are taught in a traditional classroom setting, a variety of other innovative teaching modes are available to enhance research skills and provide professional training.

Clinical Program

The Washington College of Law was one of the first law schools to develop modern clinical legal education. Typically, more than 200 second- and third-year students participate in one of the 11 law clinics each academic year—making the Clinical Program one of the largest in the nation. All 11 clinics are open to third-year students, and 7 are open to second-year students. Full-time faculty and practitioners-in-residence work collaboratively to teach students about client-centered, ethical practices. The Clinical Program serves a diverse clientele, including immigrants and refugees; victims/survivors of domestic violence; juveniles; criminal defendants; low-income taxpayers; individuals seeking help with family law, consumer, disability, and intellectual property issues; community groups; and nonprofit organizations.

The 11 clinics include

  • General Practice Clinic
  • Community and Economic Development Law Clinic
  • Criminal Justice Clinic
  • DC Law Students in Court Clinic
  • Disability Rights Law Clinic
  • Domestic Violence Law Clinic
  • Janet R. Spragens Federal Tax Clinic
  • Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic
  • Immigrant Justice Clinic
  • International Human Rights Law Clinic
  • Women and the Law Clinic

Dual-Degree Programs

American University offers five domestic dual-degree programs for students seeking to enhance their law degree with additional graduate coursework. These programs include a JD/MA in International Affairs with the School of International Service; JD/MBA with the Kogod School of Business; and JD/MPA, JD/MPP, and JD/MS in Justice, Law, and Criminology programs with the School of Public Affairs. In addition to our domestic dual-degree programs, the law school offers five international dual-degree programs with law schools in Melbourne, Australia; Ottawa, Canada; Paris, France; Rome, Italy; and Madrid, Spain. These programs provide students more opportunities to practice law in the international arena.

Externship Program

The program places upper-level students in many governmental, nonprofit, and public interest entities throughout the DC metropolitan area, the United States, and abroad. More than 400 students participate in an externship each year.

Trial Advocacy Program

The nationally recognized Stephen S. Weinstein Trial Advocacy Program prepares about 400 students each year to enter the legal community with solid trial litigation skills. The program emphasizes basic skills training, development of case theory and themes, analysis of strategies, and professional ethics.

Graduate Study

Graduate study is available, leading to an LLM degree in International Legal Studies, Law and Government, Advocacy, Human Rights, or Intellectual Property, or to an SJD degree in a breadth of legal topics.

Summer Programs

In addition to our summer-session courses, the law school offers many intensive summer institutes at our DC location in multiple areas, including international arbitration, human rights, health law, intellectual property, international organizations and diplomacy, government, and environmental law.

Study Abroad

Students have the opportunity to study law for a semester in more than 20 different countries or through one of the law school’s four summer-abroad programs:

  • Europe (London/Paris/Luxembourg/Brussels)
  • The Hague
  • Geneva
  • Turkey

Typically, about 50 percent of the student body earns credit for overseas academic activity.

Admission

Applicants to the law school are admitted based on the strength of their entire academic and related record. The Committee on Admissions gives primary emphasis to the undergraduate record, LSAT scores, and major accomplishments and achievements, whether academic, work related, or extracurricular. The committee considers the benefits from having racial, ethnic, cultural, economic, and geographic diversity among its students. Admission to the law school is highly selective and operates both a binding Early Decision Option and a modified rolling admission process, so early application is strongly encouraged.

Student Activities

The law school has five established journals and several publications edited and published by students. The journals include

  • Administrative Law Review
  • American University Law Review
  • American University Business Law Review
  • American University International Law Review
  • American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy, and the Law

Other publications include

  • Criminal Law
  • Practitioner Health Law and Policy
  • Human Rights Brief
  • Intellectual Property Brief
  • Labor & Employment Law Forum
  • Legislation and Policy Brief
  • Modern American
  • National Security Law Brief
  • Sustainable Development Law and Policy

The Moot Court Honor Society sponsors appellate competitions for first-year and upper-level students and prepares students for a number of national and international interschool appellate competitions.

The Mock Trial Honor Society sponsors a closing argument competition for first-year students and prepares student teams for national interschool mock trial competitions.

There are more than 50 active student organizations, including

  • Asian Pacific American Law Students Association
  • Black Law Students Association
  • Latino/a Law Students Association
  • South Asian Law Students Association
  • Lambda Law Society
  • International Trade and Investment Law Society
  • Intellectual Property Law Society
  • Environmental Law Society

Career Services

Staffed by seven attorney counselors, the Office of Career and Professional Development provides individual career and professional development counseling to students and alumni on all aspects of the job-search process, and sponsors dozens of educational and job-related programs throughout the year. In addition to supporting students who pursue academic-year positions in the Washington metropolitan area to advance their substantive legal skills, the office coordinates both on- and off-campus recruitment for summer and postgraduate opportunities.

Applicant Profile

The Committee on Admissions considers a number of factors when evaluating a candidate for admission; therefore, we elected not to include a grid based on undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores. Many applicants have similar scores, but each applicant has a unique background of academic, cultural, and professional experiences and achievements. The committee weighs all of these factors when determining a candidate’s suitability for admission.