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University of the District of Columbia—David A. Clarke School of Law

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In 1986, the District of Columbia Council authorized the establishment of the District of Columbia School of Law. The Council created a dual mission for the School of Law, charging its Board of Governors with a mandate to recruit and enroll students from ethnic, racial, and other population groups traditionally underrepresented at the bar and to represent the legal needs of low-income persons, particularly residents of the District of Columbia.

The DC School of Law, the only publicly funded law school in Washington, DC, merged with the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) in 1996 and became the University of the District of Columbia School of Law. In April 1998, the UDC School of Law was named the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC Law). The law school operates full-time day and part-time evening divisions leading to the JD degree, as well as an LLM program.

Physical Facilities and Library

In 2011, the School of Law moved to a new, more spacious building, located about a block from the UDC’s Van Ness campus in the upper northwest section of Washington, DC. The building features wireless Internet access throughout its facility, a state-of-the-art ceremonial moot court room, classrooms to support teaching from laptops and tablets, and administrative, faculty, and student organization offices.

The Charles N. and Hilda H. M. Mason Law Library is a beautiful, modern facility that provides traditional and high-tech resources required for study of the law. The Internet and law library resources are accessible via the law library's wireless LAN throughout the law library and the School of Law.

The library is teaching-, research-, and practice-oriented, with law librarians who provide expert assistance and instruction to students and faculty. The law library expands its online and print collections on an ongoing basis, with an emphasis on reference and scholarly materials that support legal education and the clinical programs. In 2012, the ABA Center for Children and the Law donated the ABA Children and the Law Collection, a special 4,000-plus item collection, to the School of Law library. Visit the library's online catalog.

The university and law school campuses are conveniently located on the Metro's Red Line at the UDC/Van Ness subway stop.


Consistent with UDC School of Law's mission, the program is designed to provide a well-rounded theoretical and practical legal education that will enable students to be effective and ethical advocates, and to represent the legal needs of low-income residents through the school’s legal clinics.

Full-time and part-time first-year students participate in New Student Orientation, which introduces them to the study of law and to the School of Law community. During orientation, students take Law and Justice, a course that introduces legal, political, social, and philosophical aspects of poverty and inequality in American society. Also during orientation, students participate in a public interest career fair; enjoy a luncheon with a panel of judges; and attend the Dean's Reception held on Capitol Hill in the Rayburn Building of the House of Representatives.

In the first year, students must complete 40 hours of community service and take a prescribed program consisting of required courses and one elective course. After the first year, students must also take courses in Evidence, Constitutional Law I and II, Professional Responsibility, and Moot Court. Each UDC Law student is required to produce significant pieces of writing each of the three or four years of study. The School of Law offers summer courses, mandatory clinics, summer fellowships, and an internship program.

In 2015, the School of Law launched its new Pathways to Practice Program. The Pathways Program assists students in developing individualized programs of study that lead in the direction of their specific career goals (e.g., Immigration Law and Human Rights, Family and Juvenile Law, and Public Service/Public Policy Law).

While the emphasis of the school is on public interest law, the overall curriculum—clinic and classroom—provides the skills necessary to pursue any field of law.

Nationally Recognized Clinical Program

In 1972, UDC Law’s predecessor institution, Antioch Law School, was the first and only US law school to educate its students using the clinical legal education model. Students are required to complete two seven-credit clinics during their second and third years (or third and fourth years for part-time students) for a total of 700 hours. The clinics offered in the 2017–2018 academic year were Housing and Consumer Law, Juvenile and Special Education Law, Legislation, Government Accountability Project, Community Development Law, Low-Income Taxpayer, Criminal Law, General Practice Law, and Immigration and Human Rights.

Pathways to Practice

Many law students are interested in a general legal education and are not sure what career path they intend to follow. They are free to choose any combination of electives that sound interesting and round out their general legal education. For students who know they would like to specialize in a certain kind of law, we have developed Pathways to Practice in eight broad practice areas:

  • Civil Rights and Equality
  • Criminal Law
  • Family and Juvenile Law
  • General Transactional Law Practice
  • Housing and Community Development Law
  • Immigration Law and Human Rights
  • Public Service/Public Policy
  • Solo and Law Firm Practice

You may choose a Pathway at any time in your legal education, and you are free to change your Pathway at any time. Many of the courses and experiential opportunities overlap several Pathways, and choosing one does not commit you to follow a specific curriculum. Rather, we offer Pathways to help you choose core courses, electives, clinics, and other experiential learning opportunities that connect with specific areas of study and career paths. They will help you build a body of knowledge, skills, and experience that will prepare you for practice in your chosen field. You will also build a network of like-minded colleagues, faculty advisors, alumni, and prospective employers to help you make the transition from law school to practice.

If you entered law school with a clear idea of what you want to do, you may begin your Pathway in your first year by choosing a community service placement in your field. In the summer following your first year, you may choose to take one of the recommended electives, or to obtain a Summer Public Interest Fellowship in your field. When it comes time to choose a clinic preference, the Pathways will guide you toward the clinics that will best prepare you for your chosen field. You may also choose elective seminars that permit you to satisfy the Upper Level Writing Requirement by writing a scholarly paper relevant to your field.

Academic Support and Summer Program

UDC-DCSL is committed to the academic success of each student and believes that teaching the skills necessary to attain success in law school and lawyering is an integral part of the curriculum. Every student climbs the law school learning curve at a different speed. UDC-DCSL seeks to aid each student in the transition first to law school and then to the practice of law through a comprehensive combination of courses and programs. Throughout law school, the academic success faculty is available to provide one-on-one support.

Academic Support and Bar Preparation Program initiatives include general academic support, early identification and intervention, and bar preparation support. The Jump Start Program allows students to get a jump on law school by starting law school a semester early and learning to be a law student while focusing on one course. Using the doctrine from your other courses, the 1L Lab expressly introduces every student to the skills essential to success. The Fresh Start Program offers underperforming students an opportunity to start anew. Support for the bar includes a for-credit course and several workshops and practice exams.

Internship Program

Students in the second, third, or fourth year (for part-time students) may elect to do a four- or eight-credit legal internship. Qualifying placements include federal or local government agencies; judicial, legislative, or congressional offices; or public interest legal organizations, all in metropolitan Washington, DC. Students are required to attend a weekly internship seminar at the school. The class emphasizes the importance of supervision, self-direction in career management, building legal and professional skills, and public service. Every summer, the School of Law funds dozens of students to work full time in public interest, governmental, or judicial legal internships through its Equal Justice Works Summer Public Interest Fellowship Program.


Admission is based upon academic and nonacademic achievements and professional promise. UDC Law considers the applicant's LSAT score and grades in tandem with other criteria that it believes may provide a more accurate measure of a candidate's determination, commitment, and potential for success in the study of law. The Admission Committee also considers other submitted application materials, such as the personal statement and essays, recommendations, community service, and employment experience. Applicants are encouraged to contact the Admission Office or to visit the School of Law website for information about visiting the School of Law, sitting in on a class, and attending one of the Law Day-Open House programs or Information Sessions.

Financial Assistance and Scholarships

The financial aid policy provides students with financial assistance to support full-time and part-time study. This is usually accomplished through a combination of scholarships, grants, and loans. These include merit- and need-based scholarships, the Federal Direct unsubsidized and GradPLUS loan programs, and federal and other work-study employment. About 70 percent of UDC Law students receive scholarship assistance, and 96 percent receive some form of financial aid. Detailed information about financial aid application policies and procedures is available on the School of Law website.

Student Activities

The first issue of the annual University of the District of Columbia Law Review was published in 1992. Active student organizations include the Student Bar Association, Black Law Students Association, International Law Students Association, Latino/a Law Students Association, Constitutional Law Society, OutLaw, Women's Law Society, Sports and Entertainment Student Lawyers Association, Christian Law Society, Phi Alpha Delta, Innocence Project, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Veterans Legal Service Project.

Career and Professional Development

The Office of Career and Professional Development provides employment information, individual career counseling, and résumé assistance to the School of Law's student body and graduates. The office maintains listings of permanent job openings, fellowships, summer clerkships, and part-time opportunities. The office also coordinates potential internship sites and invites employers to conduct on-campus interviews. The office provides resources for career planning, counseling sessions to assist students in developing their career goals, résumé workshops, and other relevant seminars.

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Contact Information

4340 Connecticut Avenue NW
Suite 104
Washington, DC 20008

Phone: 202.274.7341
ABA Data:

Applicant Profile

The David A. Clarke School of Law prides itself on its admission philosophy, comprehensive and competitive selection process, and student diversity. While the applicant profile grids can be helpful to students, they may also discourage some students whose numerical profiles are slightly below the school's LSAT and GPA medians, but whose life experiences, for example, may be compelling. Numbers do not always provide an accurate picture of an applicant's potential for law study or motivation to succeed. The School of Law, therefore, does not provide an applicant profile grid, but rather a brief description of its student body. The student body is a diverse and accomplished group. The age range is 22 to 57 years. The average age is 32 years. People of color comprise about half of the student body, and women comprise more than half of the students. More than 38 states and over 120 undergraduate schools are represented in the student body. The School of Law seeks to admit about 150 students to its full-time and part-time divisions. Smaller class sizes provide students with an ideal student-to-faculty ratio and a rich theoretical and practical learning environment. The LSAT score range for the fall 2017 entering class was 141 to 161. The GPA range was 2.0 to 4.0. The student body represents strong contribution potential and competency for the study of law.