American University Washington College of Law, Washington, DC
by Akbar Ali
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<<The school has a number of strong legal study programs, including international law, clinical, and trial advocacy programs that U.S. News & World Report ranks as fifth, second, and 11th in the nation. The school offers three law degrees: a J.D. (Juris Doctor), an LL.M. (Master of Laws), and an S.J.D. (Doctor of Juridical Science). Students may also pursue the following dual degrees: a J.D./M.A. offered through the School of International Service and a J.D./M.B.A. and an LL.M./M.B.A. offered through the Kogod School of Business.
Dean Claudio M. Grossman asserts, "Our students benefit from externships with governmental and nongovernmental institutions around the world; our renowned programs in clinical education, intellectual property, human rights, government, business, and environmental law; and from a dedicated faculty. Many students participate in one of our 11 journals and publications.
"Most of all, WCL students benefit by being part of a diverse and proactive student body, constantly seeking fresh challenges and creating new opportunities through WCL's exciting wealth of student organizations. This diverse community is further enriched by lawyers from all over the world who participate in our International Legal Studies Program and our Program in Law and Government."
Located just 20 minutes from the White House, the law school has a unique history among American legal education institutions. It was established in 1896 by Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett, two pioneering women who made their mark on a national institution which still officially barred women from becoming legal practitioners.
<<Their aim was to create an environment where those historically banned from learning and practicing law could become more integrated into the development of social, government, and business law. Given this history, it is not surprising that women make up a majority of the student body and minorities make up about one third.
Admission to WCL is considered selective with 23% of applicants being offered admission. For the 2007 entering class, a total of 8,401 applications were received with less than 6% of applicants enrolling at the beginning of the school year.
The school offers law courses at both full-time (12 or more credit hours) and part-time status (less than 12 credit hours). A minimum of 86 semester hours is needed to obtain a Juris Doctor degree.
The school is also home to a large number of legal programs and centers including the following:
Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
Health Law Project
Humphrey Fellowship Program (Fulbright Exchange)
International Arbitration Program
International Legal Studies Program
International Visiting Scholars Program
Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project
National Institute of Military Justice
National Institute of Corrections/WCL Project on Addressing Prison Rape
Office of Public Interest
Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property
Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law
Program on Law and Government
Special Events and Continuing Legal Education
Trial Advocacy Program
War Crimes Research Office
Women and International Law Program
Women and the Law Program
<<Full-time students entering in 2007 reported a median GPA of 3.40 and 25th- and 75th-percentile GPAs of 3.14 and 3.59. Part-time students had the same median GPA, while their 25th- and 75th-percentile GPAs were 3.10 and 3.62.
The median LSAT score for full-time students was 162 with the corresponding 25th- and 75th-percentile scores at 161 and 163. Part-time students garnered a median LSAT score of 160 with 159 and 161 being the 25th- and 75th-percentile LSAT scores.
Full-time tuition for the 2008-2009 academic year stands at $38,652; part-time tuition totals $27,189. Additional expenses, including school fees, housing, food costs, books and supplies, and transportation, bring the estimated total cost of one year at WCL to $59,919 for full-time students and $47,882 for part-time students.
Financial aid is available for students, mainly through federal and state loans for those who qualify. Most student loans are procured through the federal Stafford Loan and Graduate PLUS programs and through private banks and lenders.
Famous WCL alumni include U.S. senator from West Virginia Robert Byrd, Maryland House of Delegates member Kirill Reznik, CNN correspondent Joe Johns, and film producer Roy Lee.
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