American University (Washington College of Law)

The Washington College of Law (WCL), founded in 1896, has been part of American University since 1949. WCL is a member of the Association of American Law Schools and is approved by the American Bar Association. The law school also meets the requirements for preparation for the bar in all states and carries the certification for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and the New York State Department of Education.

At the Washington College of Law, you meet the world where you will practice your profession. The world has become essentially borderless, where economic, political, and social changes require innovative legal analysis and solutions. The Washington College of Law (WCL) equips students in unique ways to navigate this new reality. A top law school that provides an excellent legal education in all areas of the law, WCL has renowned programs in experiential learning (clinics and externships), international law, law and government, intellectual property, business, and gender. These vital programs create an environment rich with opportunities for you.

Our location and diverse student body creates possibilities from the first day you step onto our campus. Washington, D.C. opens up unparalleled opportunities as the site of the branches of government, administrative agencies, international organizations, think-tanks, lobby groups, and numerous public interest and non-governmental organizations. You will find many WCL graduates serving in all of them. Our students take advantage of our extensive Supervised Externship Program and opportunities to participate in legal research and litigation. JD students may take upper-level courses with our LL.M. students, learning side by side with more than 180 practicing attorneys from around the world. You can participate in numerous student organizations and journals, such as the Business Brief and the Human Rights Brief; outreach groups such as the Marshall-Brennan Fellowship Program (where students teach constitutional law to local high school students); and a variety of other activities in business, human rights, gender, intellectual property and environmental law, to name a few. If your aspirations also involve fields outside the law, you can pursue dual joint degrees that we offer with three professional schools at American University—the School of International Service, Kogod School of Business, and the School of Public Affairs. From law and government to business, your opportunities here are endless.

We have made our curriculum qualitatively different. WCL cares about teaching. Numerous faculty members engage in projects to develop integrated teaching. This allows our students, from their first year of legal education, to understand the theoretical underpinnings of the law as well as how a particular client interest is affected by multiple fields of law using a joint syllabus so that students can see the transcurricular aspects of their education. We foster an atmosphere based on access to the faculty, commitment to your success, and motivation for the study of law and the practice of the profession that we have all chosen. In the first year, each section is kept small with usually fewer than 80 students, an extraordinary accomplishment for a school of our size. WCL's small classes, a curriculum that offers access to numerous fields of specialization, and sophisticated resources for technology and education ensures a first-rate educational experience.

Our students are qualitatively different, too. Many care passionately about important issues, from the state of public education to human rights, access to legal representation, gender and ethnicity, environmental challenges, labor issues, and the development of intellectual property and business law. Our students see themselves as scholars, exploring and publishing in every legal field, while others delve into opportunities for advocacy—working on our Innocence Project cases, filing Supreme Court amicus curiae briefs, and teaching constitutional law to area high school students. Experiential learning for everyone, through clinics or externships, gives you a taste of the practice of law, and demonstrates our commitment to the development of skills and values so crucial for the legal profession.

Law is the ordered process for resolving human conflict. During the first year of law school, you will examine the primary areas of conflict-disputes over property, agreements among persons, private injuries suffered by persons-as well as the procedures by which these conflicts are resolved in courts.

The first-year curriculum is composed of required courses and serves as an introduction to the major substantive areas of law. The case-method approach is the typical form of instruction and will develop your ability to analyze and understand critically assigned materials and to extend that analysis to other conflicts. This allows you to learn the present state of law and, more important, to grasp the relationship between the changing needs of society and the ever-evolving common law. Classroom participation is an integral part of this method of instruction and provides you the opportunity to develop oral communication skills in the presentation of complicated fact patterns and practice in the application of legal theories to achieve acceptable resolutions.

Complementing your theoretical courses is the Legal Rhetoric: writing and research course, in which you and a small section of other first-year students are team-taught by either a full-time faculty member or a practicing attorney. This program provides you with a thorough introduction to legal research, including instruction in computerized legal research systems. You will learn many forms of legal writing, including opinion letters, various forms of memoranda, and contracts. During the spring, you develop an appellate brief, which you have the opportunity to argue orally.

The ten law clinics at the Washington College of Law give student attorneys the opportunity to represent real clients with real legal problems, to handle litigation from beginning to end, to carry out transactional work for client groups, to take full responsibility for clients’ cases, and to learn lawyering skills at both a practical and theoretical level. Each clinic offers student attorneys individualized instruction in the lawyering process, and helpful and constructive feedback enables them to learn and practice law by taking significant responsibility under the guidance of clinical faculty. Student attorneys begin to understand the parameters and demands of being a lawyer. They must often struggle with ethical problems presented by their cases and confront the institutional frameworks within which client problems arise. Through their own actions, they see the way law operates in society.

The learning environment is often intense because significant demands are made on commitment, creativity, intelligence, reflectiveness and time. Student attorneys often collaborate on cases and help each other with common problems that arise in their representation of clients. Within each clinic, student attorneys and faculty supervisors work together toward shared goals. Student attorneys encounter, together with their peers, the frustration, excitement, fear and courage that are all part of being a lawyer. The program provides a supportive yet challenging environment for evaluating these experiences. This combination of intense involvement and detached reflection helps student attorneys clarify their views of their emerging careers.

The goal of the Clinical Program is to help student attorneys develop the ability to learn from experience now and throughout their professional careers. By acquiring an understanding of the criteria by which a lawyering task can be judged and by learning the process of self-evaluation, student attorneys develop reflective habits that encourage continuous professional growth. The program aspires to introduce student attorneys to this process and guides them through it.

Language has the power to shape the way people think and act and the ability to use language effectively is fundamental to successful practice. Our understanding of law and language has given rise to a unique program that prepares our graduates to become better writers and better lawyers. Our Program combines exceptional resources, outstanding expertise, and innovative yet proven techniques to develop students' writing and research skills. It gives our graduates an edge from their first day in practice.

Our comprehensive and rigorous program develops students' fundamental legal skills throughout their law school careers. The core of the program is Legal Rhetoric: Writing and Research, a course unlike any other first-year legal skills offering. Even more distinctively, the program continues beyond the first year to include intensive writing components within other courses and programs.

The WCL law library is one of the most accessible and innovative academic libraries in the United States. The space covers 55,000 square feet, the vast majority of which is committed to student carrels, work tables, and research stations, plus a network of group studyrooms.
It offers an in-house collection of more than 400,000 volumes, plus access to Westlaw, and Lexis-Nexis electronic resources. It's staffed by academicians including five librarians who are also lawyers. In a six-story building, a spacious and carefully developed two-story library constitutes a foundation for a four-floor, fully integrated complex of classrooms and administrative offices.

School name:American UniversityWashington College of Law
Address:4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Zip & city:DC 20016 District of Columbia

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Washington College of Law Law School Location

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