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Washington University School of Law

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Washington University School of Law

Washington University School of Law (Wash. U. Law) is a private American law school located in St. Louis, Missouri.[1] The law school is one of the seven graduate and undergraduate schools at Washington University in St. Louis. Founded in 1867, the School of Law is the oldest continually operating private law school west of the Mississippi River. Originally, the law school was located in downtown St. Louis, but it relocated in 1904 to the Danforth Campus of Washington University in St. Louis, and is housed in Anheuser-Busch Hall. It is ranked 18th among the 203 American Bar Association approved law schools by U.S. News & World Report.[2][3] Its clinical training and trial advocacy programs have consistently ranked in the top ten according to the same source.


For the class entering in the fall of 2013, 1,032 out of 4,251 J.D. applicants were offered admission (24.3%), with 189 matriculating. The 25th and 75th LSAT percentiles for the 2013 entering class were 160 and 167, respectively, with a median of 166. The 25th and 75th undergraduate GPA percentiles were 3.27 and 3.77, respectively, with a median of 3.69.[4]

Ranking and honors

The 2015 edition of U.S. News & World Report's "Best Law Schools" ranked the Washington University School of Law:

  • 18th in the country overall (out of over 180 law schools)
  • 9th in the country in Trial Advocacy
  • 6th in the country in Clinical Training

Recent Leiter’s Law School Rankings placed the law school:

  • 18th in the country (tie) in Student Quality
  • 19th in the country (tie) in Academic Reputation
  • 20th in the country (tie) in Lawyer/Judge Reputation[5][6] recently ranked Washington University as number 1 for social life.[7]

Degree Program

Juris Doctoris (JD) Program

Most of the students at Washington University School of Law are enrolled in the Juris Doctor (JD) program. JD students are required to take 86 semester hours of credit in order to graduate. In the fall of their first year, students are required to take Contracts, Property, Torts, Legal Practice I and Legal Research Methodologies I, and in the spring of their first year, students are required to take Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Legal Practice II and Legal Research Methodologies II. The second and third year offer more flexibility in planning the student's curriculum as there are only two mandatory classes (a class from the ethics curriculum and one seminar). In addition to their substantive coursework, many second and third year students participate in moot court, a scholarly publication, a clinic, or an externship.

Joint Degree Programs

For students interested in a more general interdisciplinary course of study, the School of Law offers five joint degree programs (usually completed in four years, as opposed to three for a standard JD). These include:

JD-MBA, with Washington University's Olin Business School
JD-M.A. in East Asian Studies, with the Washington University School of Arts and Sciences
JD-M.A. in Economics, with the Washington University School of Arts and Sciences
JD-MHA in Health Administration, with the Washington University School of Medicine
JD-George Warren Brown School of Social Work
JD-LL.M, with University of Queensland

Master of Laws (LL.M.) Program

Washington University School of Law offers an LL.M. in U.S. Law for International Students, an LL.M. in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution, an LL.M. in Intellectual Property & Technology Law, and an LL.M. in Taxation.

Master of Legal Studies (MLS) Program

This program is a graduate program designed for non-lawyers. Students in the MLS Program may choose to study the legal system broadly or may choose to pursue focused course of study in a particular area.[8]

Juris Scientiae Doctoris (JSD) Program

This program is available to students who have already completed their LL.M. studies. The program does not follow a general program format. Rather, the student's faculty advisor will select the student's JSD requirements, which highly emphasizes original research and writing skills.

Moot Court Competitions

Washington University has one of the oldest and largest moot court programs in the country. The program includes the Giles Rich Moot Court Competition, sponsored by the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition, sponsored by the International Trademark Association (INTA), the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, sponsored by the International Law Students Association, the Niagara International Arbitration Competition, and Environmental, National Appellate Advocacy, William E. McGee National Civil Rights, and Wiley Rutledge Moot Court Competitions.[9] Washington University is historically one of the most accomplished American universities in the Jessup International Law Moot Court competition. From 1998-2009, Washington University has advanced from the regional competition to the Sherman & Sterling International Rounds of the competition seven times, a feat only matched by Harvard Law.[10] In 2008, the team took first place in the Dillard Competition for the Best Memorial out of all the national and regional competitions in the world. The WU team's brief not only won over more than 120 U.S. law schools, but also over hundreds of teams that competed in more than 100 countries around the world.[11] Additionally, in 2009, the National Moot Court Team won the William E. McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Competition. The team went undefeated through seven rounds of competition to win the championship with three students receiving unanimous decisions on the scorecard of every judge in every round they argued. The National Moot Court Team also won the Midwest Regional of the American Bar Association’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition and advanced to the National Representation in Mediation Competition. The Trial Team, who won first place at the Regional Qualifying Tournament of the ABA/American College of Trial Lawyers National Trial Competition, advanced to the National Finals of the NTC against the 22 other national qualifiers from across the country. In addition, the Niagara International Law Moot Court Team placed third out of 19 teams and advanced to the semifinals of the competition, the National Environmental Moot Court Competition Team progressed through three preliminary rounds and advanced to the quarterfinals at Pace University’s competition in New York, ranking third out of 74 teams.[12]

Clinical Program

The clinical program at Washington University School of Law is ranked by U.S. News and World Report fourth in the nation, and claims to "provide students opportunities to learn professional skills and values by working in the real world with clients, attorneys, judges, and legislators."

Appellate Advocacy

Students in the Appellate Clinic represent pro se litigants in cases to be heard on appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. After the clerk of the court assigns cases at the beginning of the semester, students handle all aspects of the appeal, including motions, filings, and briefs. The representation typically provides at least one student each semester an opportunity to argue a case before a panel of the Eighth Circuit. This clinic calls for extensive research and writing.

Civil Justice

The Civil Justice Clinic requires students to handle their own case load under the supervision of the faculty. In utilizing the student body for representation, the Civil Justice Clinic assists in the provision of legal services to needy members of the community and imparts the obligation for public service. The Clinic also includes a weekly seminar in which students are encouraged to think critically about the law, the legal system, lawyers, and their roles as professionals.

Civil Rights & Community Justice

In the Civil Rights and Community Justice Clinic, students work in the fields of immigration and employment discrimination. Students are placed at Legal Aid, selected non-profits, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and in selected plaintiff law firms to assist on immigration status and immigrants rights cases as well as cases of alleged discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, sex, age, and disability in employment, education, and other arenas. Students engage in interviewing, counseling, case analysis and planning, problem solving, fact investigation, document drafting, negotiation, mediation, and community education. In addition to law office practice, the Civil Rights and Community Justice Clinic includes an in-house component in which students observe and conduct mediations, assist in at least one legislative drafting experience, and participate in at least one civil rights community education project of the student's choosing. The Civil Rights and Community Justice Clinic became involved in larger scale community lawyering by assisting on the lawsuit opposing the anti-immigrant ordinances in Valley Park, Missouri.

Criminal Justice

The Criminal Justice Clinic operates in collaboration with the St. Louis County office of the Missouri State Public Defender System, which is the second largest criminal defense office in Missouri, and which is located approximately one mile from the law school in the St. Louis County Justice Center. The Criminal Justice Clinic exposes students to real life lawyering skills within the framework of the state level criminal justice system. Clinic students have the opportunity to serve as Rule 13 certified legal interns, and perform the work of a lawyer, representing clients facing criminal charges.

Congressional & Administrative Law

In this Clinic, approximately 24 third-year law students spend their Spring semester in Washington D.C. and work under the direction of attorneys in a variety of government offices. Examples include the House and Senate Judiciary Committee, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, the Corporate Finance Section of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

As prerequisite to taking this course, students participating in the Congressional and Administrative Law Clinic are required to enroll a course on ethics in government in addition to their daily work at the internship. Well-known personalities - which in the past have included Ken Starr, Webb Hubbell, Bob Bennett and David Kendall - regularly lead classroom discussions on topical subjects.

Government Lawyering

The Government Lawyering Clinic provides the opportunity for students to work with attorneys in the Criminal or Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office.
Students in this Clinic work in the Eastern District of Missouri office in St. Louis or the Southern District of Illinois office in East St. Louis. Clinic students in the Criminal Division participate in criminal investigations and prosecution (from initial fact investigations to final appellate work).

Interdisciplinary Environmental

This Clinic consists of both "student attorneys" (second and third year law students) and "student consultants" (graduate and upper-level undergraduates students of Washington University studying engineering, environmental studies, medicine, social work and/or business), work in interdisciplinary teams under faculty supervision. These teams offer legal and technical assistance on environmental and community health problems to individuals and organizations that cannot afford to pay for such services. Clinic teams work on issues relating to air and water quality, lead poisoning, environmental justice, habitat destruction and wetlands.[13]

In March 2007, the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic helped reach a milestone agreement between Sierra Club and Kansas City Power & Light ("KCPL"). This agreement requires KCPL to make the most significant carbon reduction commitments of any utility in the Midwest.[14][15]

Intellectual Property & Nonprofit Organizations

Students in this Clinic collaborate with students from the School of Medicine, Olin School of Business, the Department of Biomedical Engineering, the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, and Arts & Sciences; and to provide intellectual property and business formation legal services to clients who might otherwise not have access to competent legal counsel. This Clinic is designed to work with St. Louis-area IP attorneys to provide early stage legal advice to other innovators and entrepreneurs, especially with business incubators in the St. Louis area; work with nonprofit organizations such as: St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA), and Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors (PIIPA).

Judicial Clerkship

The Judicial Clerkship externship exposes students to civil and criminal litigation from the judicial perspective. Students work as part-time law clerks under the supervision of local, state or federal trial or appellate judges. Students participating in the Judicial Clerkship externship course observe hearings, trials and other court proceedings; perform legal research; and draft a series of legal memoranda relevant to cases under submission by the courts.

Student publications

The Washington University School of Law has four student-run publications. After the completion of their first year, students are encouraged to participate in a "write-on" competition. This competition has generally entailed writing a case comment. Based upon the quality of a student's case comment, a student may be invited to join the publication of their choice.
Second-year students participating in one of the three Washington University School of Law student-run publications are considered "associate" or "staff" editors. In addition to their editing responsibilities (which generally consist of "shelf-checks"), these students are required to write a "note." Based upon the quality of their writing, students may be asked to publish their note in the publication in which they belong. Rising third-year law students are encouraged to apply for an editorial position within their publication. These board positions range from lower-level editing positions to the editor-in-chief position.

  • Washington University Law Review began as the St. Louis Law Review in 1915 and was re-titled the Washington University Law Quarterly in 1936. The Law Review is a student-run academic journal that publishes six issues per year. The staff selects and edits articles from legal scholars, practitioners, and students, and welcomes submissions on any legal topic. In addition to the printed publications, Law Review maintains an online supplement entitled Slip Opinions featuring original commentary and debate by members of the legal academy, bench, and bar.
  • Washington University Global Studies Law Review is a student-edited international legal journal dedicated to publishing articles by international, foreign, and comparative law scholars. Global publishes quarterly. Global's publications present articles, book reviews, essays, and notes from academics, practitioners, and students, respectively.[16] Global occasionally publishes articles in conjunction with symposia from the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute, such as the famous The Judgment at Nuremberg, which included articles by the President of the International Criminal Court Hon. Philippe Kirsch, Leila Nadya Sadat, and Sen. Chris Dodd.[17] Global has published articles from practitioners and law professors from various countries including Brazil, the Netherlands, India, Finland, Myanmar, and Australia. In addition to publishing, since 2007 the staff of Global has worked to create an International Citation Manual in order to provide the most accurate citations for international sources. Still a work in progress, Global has compiled citation formats for more than sixty countries.[18]
  • Washington University Journal of Law and Policy originated in 1968 as the Urban Law Annual and focused entirely on issues surrounding land use, urban development, and other legal concerns of urban communities. The scope broadened in 1983 when the Journal expanded (and became the Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law) to encompass a broad range of topics. In 1999, the Journal once again broadened its scope to become the Washington University Journal of Law & Policy. The Journal generates a symposium-based publication that brings together communities of scholars, to emphasize 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. Each year, the Journal publishes an "Access to Justice" volume. This volume is a compilation of essays from the Washington University School of Law’s "Access to Justice" speaker series, one goal of which is to encourage and challenge audiences to use their legal education for the ultimate betterment of our society. Additionally, the Journal collaborates with faculty members to publish symposia along a broad spectrum of contemporary topics.
  • Washington University Jurisprudence Review was formed in 2008 and is the only student-edited, in-print journal of law and philosophy in America. The purpose of the Review is to promote academic discussion and scholarship at the nexus between law and philosophy. It also seeks to broaden and deepen the law school experience by fostering critical analysis of the suppositions and theories that underlie the law school curriculum. To further these purposes, the Review publishes scholar- and practitioner-authored articles, as well as student-authored notes.

Student organizations

The Washington University School of Law has an always evolving variety of student organizations. A majority of these organizations represent a local chapter of a larger national organization. In addition to the organizations which represent as national chapter, Washington University School of Law has several student organizations that are unique to the Law School;

  • American Indian Law Students Association (AILSA)
  • Barely Legal Theater (a student-run organization where students write and perform skits or songs that poke fun at law school life)
  • Sidebar Wine Society
  • Graduate-Professional Council (selected students represent the school of law in University matters)
  • Honor Council (charged with enforcing the Honor Code)
  • Illinois Student Bar Association (ISBA)
  • Intellectual Property Law Society (IPLS)
  • Joint Degree Law Society (for students who are pursuing more than one graduate degree)
  • OUTLaw (for LGBTQ* students and allies)
  • Second Career Law Students (SCaLeS)
  • Wash U Out West (WOW)


In January 1997, Washington University School of Law moved into Anheuser-Busch Hall. Anheuser-Busch Hall architecturally mirrors the classic style of the Washington University Danforth Campus. Anheuser-Busch Hall includes two fully functional courtrooms; numerous classrooms; and an open-stacks Law Library. Additionally, AB Hall includes common areas, such as the W.L. Hadley Griffin Student Commons and the glass-domed Crowder Courtyard. In AB Hall all classrooms, seminar rooms, and breakout rooms have both computing and multimedia capabilities. Each classroom and seminar room is also equipped with a multimedia projection system. This allows instructors to video-tape classes and post the lectures online.

Construction of a new Social Sciences and Law Building has been finished. The new building is situated just southwest of Anheuser-Busch Hall. Ground was broken for the four-story, Collegiate Gothic building on September 5, 2006; the targeted date for completion was June 30, 2008. About 15,000 square feet (1,400 m2) of the new building’s 142,000 net square feet were earmarked for the law school, housing some administrative offices, law journal offices, and classrooms.


According to Wash U Law's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 67.3% of 2013 graduates had secured full-time, long-term, JD-required employment within nine months of graduation. A total of 32.3% had found employment in firms of more than 100 lawyers or had secured federal judicial clerkships.[19] Wash U Law's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 15.1%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.[20]

For new graduates, the self-reported median starting salary for the class of 2013 was $110,500 in the private sector, and $55,067 in the public sector.[21] WashU placed 55 graduates from the class of 2013 at NLJ 350 firms, ranking it 25th on the National Law Journal "Go-To Schools" for large law firm employment.[22]


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Wash U Law for the 2014-2015 academic year is $72,949.[23] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $277,075.[24]

Notable Alumni

Academia and business

Government and politics




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Further reading

  • Official website
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