Washington University School of Law, St. Louis, Missouri
by Douglas May
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Ranked among the finest law schools in the country and part of a world-renowned university, Washington University School of Law distinguishes itself by its devotion to the total professional and personal development of its students.
The law school’s clinical education program, trial and advocacy program, practical skills courses, journals, and other professional opportunities enable students to gain perspectives on professional practice while developing important legal skills. Through the school’s clinics and public service opportunities, students also are able to provide services to the most deserving and neediest clients.
Washington University School of Law provides many different services to support its students in their academic and professional endeavors. It has a broad-based curriculum that supplements traditional courses with hands-on clinical training, interdisciplinary learning, and global legal studies. Its curriculum provides a comprehensive education that prepares its students to practice anywhere in the United States and to address transnational legal problems as well.
The Washington University Law Library is a major academic research facility with more than 700,000 volumes and access to a rich collection of online databases. The library acquires both primary and secondary source materials basic to the needs of students, scholars, and practicing attorneys. It has one of the best collections of contemporary Chinese and Japanese law.
The above LSAT and GPA data pertain to the fall 2011 entering class.
*Medians have been calculated by averaging the 25th- and 75th-percentile values released by the law schools and have been rounded up to the nearest whole number for LSAT scores and to the nearest one-hundredth for GPAs.
Approximate number of applications
The above admission details are based on fall 2011 data.
Class Ranking and Grades
Beginning in fall 1994, Washington University School of Law discontinued ranking JD students. Students in the top 5% are informed of their rank.
Effective with the graduating class of 2004, Washington University School of Law instituted a new JD grading system with a scale of 70 to 100. Effective with that graduating class, the middle score in the scale was changed from an 83 to an 87. With this new scale, a grade of 74 or better is necessary to earn credit in a course. A 79 average is necessary to remain in good standing each year and overall with the new scale. For the new grading system, the conversion is as follows:
Grade normalization (Curve)
Cumulative and semester grade point averages for JD students are computed at the end of the fall and spring semesters. Yearly grade point averages for JD students are computed at the end of the spring semester. The academic year, for the purposes of the yearly GPA, begins with summer and ends with spring. Each average is computed as a weighted average by multiplying the numerical grade for each course attempted by the number of credit hours given for the course and dividing the total by the number of numerically graded hours attempted. (Credit/No Credit, transferred hours, and non-law courses are not included in these computations.)
A Fail in a Pass/Fail course (whether Modified or Straight Pass/Fail) is recorded as a 70 and is used to compute the student’s average. A Low Pass in a Modified Pass/Fail course is recorded as a 78 and also is used to compute the GPA. A High Pass in such a course is recorded as a 94 and also is used to compute the student’s average, unless the effect would be to lower the student’s cumulative GPA. A Pass in a Modified Pass/Fail course is recorded as a P and does not affect the GPA.
Beginning with the class of 2004, faculty must abide by mandatory mean restrictions for JD students’ grades—for first-year courses, the mean of the JD grades must be in the range of 86.5 to 87.5. For upper-level courses, the mean of the JD grades must be the same as the mean of the GPAs of the JD students in the particular course. Effective with the 2007-2008 school year, the grades for JD students in seminars is required to meet a mandatory median instead of a mean - that is based on the mean of the GPAs of the JD students in the class.
Minimum GPAs Required (Based on May 2010 graduation class)
Minimum GPA required to fall within the top 10% of the class
Minimum GPA required to fall within the top 25% of the class
Minimum GPA required to fall within the top 33% of the class
Minimum GPA required for graduation
Order of the Coif
Top 10% of the class
Top one-third of the semester class
summa cum laude
Top 2% of the class
magna cum laude
Top 10% of the class
Top 1/3 of the class
Top 10% of the class
Name of Award
Breckinridge Academic Awards
Awarded at the end of each year to the two students in each JD class with the first- and second-highest academic averages for the academic year
Awarded to each JD student who has attained the highest grade in a class
Alumni Association Prize
Awarded to the student who has attained the highest GPA in his or her entire career at the law school
American Bar Association Section of State and Local Government Law, Student Excellence Award
Awarded for the highest grade in Land Use Law and State and Local Government
Charles Trobman Memorial Award
Awarded for the highest grade in Immigration Law
Breckinridge Practice Court Prizes
Awarded for proficiency in the preparation of briefs, mastery of subject matter, and excellence in presentation of oral arguments in moot court competitions
Charles Wendell Carnahan Prize
Awarded for the highest final grade in Conflict of Laws
Christophine G. Mutharika International Law Prize
Awarded for the highest grade in International Law
Dan Carter-Earl Tedrow Memorial Award
Awarded to a senior for demonstrating an agreeable and helpful disposition and mature attitude, an interest in law school affairs, a conscientious regard for studies, and an inclination to further the ideals of the legal profession
Dean’s Book Award
Awarded for outstanding leadership and service to the law school
Don Sommers Prize in Professional Responsibility
Awarded for the highest grade in Legal Profession
Equal Justice Works Award
Awarded for outstanding commitment to pro bono and public service
Excellence in Alternative Dispute Resolution Award
Awarded for the excellence in the ADR classes or the ADR competitions: Client Counseling, Negotiation, and Representation in Mediation Competitions
F. Hodge O’Neal Corporate Law Prize
Awarded for the highest grade in Corporations
Family Law Award
Awarded for the highest grade in Family Law
International Academy of Trial Lawyers Award
Awarded for proficiency in advocacy and litigation skills, as demonstrated in classes or competitions
Jack Garden Humanitarian Award
Awarded for significant contribution to the law school or the broader community
Joseph Kutten Prizes in Bankruptcy and Insurance
Awarded to the JD graduating students with the highest grades in Bankruptcy and Insurance
Judge Amandus Brackman Moot Court Prize
Awarded for proficiency in briefing and arguing cases in moot court competitions
Judge John W. Calhoun Trial Practice Award
Awarded for exceptional talent and enthusiasm for trial practice, as demonstrated in classes or competitions
Judge Myron D. Mills Administrative Law Prize
Awarded for the best paper on an administrative law topic in a course for credit during each academic year
Mary Collier Hitchcock Prize
Awarded to one student of each of the school’s three publications (the Law Review, the Journal of Law & Policy, and the Global Studies Law Review) for outstanding writing
Milton F. Napier Trial Award
Awarded for proficiency in trial advocacy, as demonstrated in classes or competitions
National Association of Women Lawyers Outstanding Law Graduate Award
Awarded for academic achievement, professional image, and commitment to the advancement of women in society
Order of Barristers
Membership offered to 10 students in the senior class on the basis of excellence in and service to lawyering skills competitions
Philip Gallop Award
Awarded for the highest grade in Real Estate Transactions
Public Service Law Student of the Year
Awarded for extraordinary commitment and dedication to serving those most in need
William M. Pomerantz Trial Prize
Awarded for excellence in regional mock trial competition
The Washington University Law Review was inaugurated as the St. Louis Law Review in 1915 and retitled the Washington University Law Quarterly in 1936. It is an academic journal run by students that publishes six issues per year. It invites articles on current and recent issues from legal scholars, practitioners, and students.
The Washington University Journal of Law & Policy originated in 1968 as the Urban Law Annual, which focused entirely on issues surrounding land use, urban development, and other legal concerns of urban communities. The journal is committed to generating a symposium-based publication that brings together communities of scholars through a mutual and collaborative student and faculty process, emphasizing existing and emerging visions of the law in relation to interdisciplinary and multicultural perspectives, the implications of technology, and the consequences of economic globalization for the purpose of influencing law and social policy.
The Washington University Global Studies Law Review is a student-edited legal journal dedicated to publishing superior works by renowned international, foreign, and comparative law scholars. It is published quarterly. Students are selected for membership by participation in a writing competition and first-year grades. The journal presents outstanding articles, book reviews, essays, and notes from prestigious academics, practitioners, and prominent students to expand the global community’s knowledge and understanding of real-world issues.
The Washington University Jurisprudence Review is the student-edited, in-print journal of law and philosophy in America. The Jurisprudence Review promotes academic discussion and scholarship at the nexus of law and philosophy. It also seeks to broaden and deepen the law school experience by fostering critical analysis of the suppositions and theories that underpin the law school curriculum. It also publishes articles by scholars from within and outside the legal academy, as well as student-authored notes. Additionally, the Jurisprudence Review hosts an annual jurisprudence colloquium where invited authors of the current volume present their work to the broader academic community.
Washington University School of Law’s moot court competitions allow students to develop courtroom skills and to gain an appreciation for the extensive preparation needed for trials or appeals. Students have several opportunities to observe and participate in moot court sessions and can voluntarily participate in intramural oral advocacy competition that includes legal arguments in front of judges drawn from the legal community. Students are selected for teams that participate in the Wiley Rutledge Moot Court Competition, held in the fall semester, which is the oldest and largest moot court at Washington University. The Environmental Moot Court is held in the spring, and the winning team represents the school at the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition.
Other opportunities for students include the following interscholastic moot court competitions: the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition; the Niagara International Law Moot Court Competition;the American Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Competition; the William E. McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Competition; the Giles Rich Moot Court Competition, sponsored by the American Intellectual Property Law Association; and the Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition, sponsored by the International Trademark Association.
The clinical education program at the Washington University School of Law provides students opportunities to learn professional skills and values by working in the real world with clients, attorneys, judges, and legislators. Law students assist indigent and low-income clients in juvenile justice, child welfare, housing, civil rights, environmental, community health, criminal defense, and intellectual property matters. With many distinct clinics, including one based in Washington, DC, New York City, and operating internationally, students have an unparalleled opportunity to hone their skills as future practitioners.
The school offers the following clinics:
Civil Justice Clinic
Civil Rights & Community Justice & Mediation Clinic
Corporate Judicial Placement
Criminal Justice Clinic
Intellectual Property & Nonprofit Organizations Clinic
Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic
International Clinical Opportunities
Patent Law Field Placement
Graduates known to be employed nine months after graduation
Areas of Legal Practice
Graduates employed In
Business and Industry
Public Interest Organizations
The law school offers local, national, and international externships during summer. These are
The Judicial Clerkship
The Lawyering Practice Externship
Africa and Asia Field Placements
American Indian Law Summer Program
The law school also offers the Government Lawyering externship. It provides the opportunity to work with attorneys in the Criminal and Civil Divisions of the United States Attorney’s Offices for both the Eastern District of Missouri and the Southern District of Illinois.
The Congressional and Administrative Law externship is a year-round, interdisciplinary clinic with full-time externship offerings on Capitol Hill for graduate, professional, and upperclass undergraduate students. It has recently expanded its scope and capacity as a result of Washington University’s academic partnership with the Brookings Institution. Third-year students have the opportunity to work for a member of Congress; a congressional committee; a federal administrative agency; or a nongovernmental policy, advocacy, or research organization, including the Brookings Institution.
The new York City Regulatory and Business externship places law students in a semester-long clinical experience in New York City. The program is being offered in conjunction with Washington University’s Olin School of Business, including a companion course in ethics with students from both schools. Students have the opportunity to learn first-hand about the practice of business associations and regulation in the nation’s largest city. The externship allows third-year law students, and qualified second-year law students, to spend their fall or spring semester in NYC and work under the direction of attorneys in a variety of non-profit, government, and in-house counsel offices having an emphasis on business associations and regulation.
Washington University School of Law launched a Transnational Law Program for students in both the US and Europe in 2008. It offers internships with US and European corporations, law firms, courts, enforcement and administrative agencies, and non-governmental organizations.
Law students participate in a number of international public interest opportunities, both in the US and abroad. The law school faculty helps students to find new internship opportunities. Opportunities literally span the globe. The law school has a close relationship with the Legal Aid Board in Durban, South Africa. Dozens of law students have participated in summer internships with the Legal Aid Board, aiding in the defense of indigent and other clients before South Africa’s criminal and civil courts.
Africa Public Interest Law & Dispute Resolution Project
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
American Constitution Society
Animal Law Society (Student Animal Legal Defense Fund)
Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA)
Barely Legal Theater
Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
China Law Society
Christian Legal Society
Corporate Law Society
Education Law & Policy Society
Energy & Environmental Law Society
Equal Justice Works (EJW)
Family Law Society (FLS)
Future Advocates in Training
Graduate Student Representative to WU Board of Trustees
Immigration Law Society
Intellectual Property Law Society
International Law Society
Jewish Law Society
Muslim Law Students Association (MLSA)
Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA)
Law and Social Work Society
Labor & Employment Law Society
Law School Democrats
Law Students for Reproductive Justice
Law Students For Life
The Liberman Graduate Center
National Lawyers Guild
National Security Law Society
Non-Traditional Law Students Association
Phi Alpha Delta
Public Interest Law Society (PILS)
Real Estate & Economic Development Law Society
Sidebar Wine Society
South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA)
Sport Shooting Society
Sports & Entertainment Law Society (SLES)
Student Bar Association (SBA)
Student Health Lawyer’s Association (SHLA)
Student Law Association of Metropolitan St. Louis
University-wide Graduate Student Groups
Women’s Law Caucus (WLC)