|Howard University School of Law|
|Motto||Veritas et Utilitas|
|Parent school||Howard University|
|School type||Private law school|
|Dean||Danielle R. Holley-Walker|
|Location||Washington, D.C., U.S.|
|USNWR ranking||98th (2023)|
Howard University School of Law (Howard Law or HUSL) is the law school of Howard University, a private, federally chartered historically black research university in Washington, D.C. It is one of the oldest law schools in the country and the oldest historically black law school in the United States.
Today, Howard University School of Law confers about 185 Juris Doctor and Master of Law degrees annually to students from the United States and countries in South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. Howard University School of Law was accredited by the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools in 1931.
Howard University opened its legal department, led by John Mercer Langston, on January 6, 1869. The founders of Howard Law recognized "a great need to train lawyers who would have a strong commitment to helping black Americans secure and protect their newly established rights" during the country's tumultuous Reconstruction era.
The first class consisted of six students who met three evenings a week in the homes and offices of the department's four teachers. Classes were held in various locations throughout the years before the law school settled into its current location at 2900 Van Ness Street N.W. in 1974. At the time, the LL.B program required only two years of study. Ten students were awarded degrees at the first commencement ceremony, which was held on February 3, 1871.
The school was accredited by the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools in 1931.
Howard Law was the first school in the nation to have a non-discriminatory admissions policy. From its founding, it admitted white male and female students along with black students. It was a progressive policy at the time to admit women, but only eight women graduated from Howard Law during the first 30 years of its existence.
An 1890 review of women lawyers in the United States published in The Green Bag, found that many women had difficulty being admitted to law school, or gaining admission to the bar, and practice, even at Howard.
Charlotte E. Ray was admitted to Howard's law program in 1869 and graduated in 1872, becoming its first black female lawyer. It is reported that Ray applied for admission to the bar using initials for her given and middle names, in order to disguise her gender, because she was "[a]ware of the school's reluctant commitment to the principle of sexual equality."[page needed]
Mary Ann Shadd Cary was among four women enrolled in the law school in 1880. She said in 1890 that she had actually been admitted to Howard's law program in September 1869, prior to Ray. However, Cary claims she was barred from graduating on time because of her gender and did not graduate until 1883.
Eliza A. Chambers, an early white female graduate of Howard's law program, was admitted in 1885 and successfully completed the three-year course of study, earning two diplomas. But, "the Law School faculty refused to hand in [Eliza's] name to the examiners, for admission to practice, omitting her from the list of her male classmates whom they recommended, simply because she was a woman." After that, she succeeded in entering practice.
Howard University School of Law has significant ties to the civil rights movement. Former HUSL Dean Charles Hamilton Houston's work for the NAACP earned him the title of "The Man Who Killed Jim Crow." Thurgood Marshall, a 1933 graduate of Howard Law, successfully argued the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case before the U.S. Supreme Court and in 1967 became the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. In 1950, Howard law graduate Pauli Murray published States' Laws on Race and Color, an examination and critique of state segregation laws throughout the nation. Thurgood Marshall called the book the "bible" of the civil rights movement. In 1952 and again in 1953, two HUSL professors, James Nabrit Jr. and George E. C. Hayes, successfully argued the landmark Supreme Court case Bolling v. Sharpe, a companion case to Brown v. Board of Education.
First year students at Howard Law are required to take courses on civil procedure; constitutional law; contracts; criminal law; legislative regulations; legal reasoning, research and writing; real property; and torts. Students must also take courses on evidence and professional responsibility and fulfill the school's scholarly writing requirement.
The school offers more than 90 courses beyond the first year curriculum.
Howard University School of Law offers the Juris Doctor (J.D.) and the Master of Laws (LL.M.). Additionally, students can enroll in the four-year J.D./M.B.A. dual degree program with the Howard University School of Business.
HUSL students can also earn a certificate in family law.
As of Fall 2013, Howard Law employed 56 faculty and administrators. The school's student-faculty ratio was 16.52 to 1.
Howard Law boasts three institutes and centers: the Education Rights Center, the Institute of Intellectual Property and Social Justice, and the World Food Law Institute.
The school's Clinical Law Center also offers seven in-house legal clinics that provide students with first-hand legal experience as well as an Externship and Equal Justice Program. These clinics are:
Howard Law has published the student-managed Howard Law Journal since 1955. The school also publishes the Howard Human & Civil Rights Law Review, formerly known as the Human Rights & Globalization Law Review and the successor to the Howard Scroll: Social Justice Law Review.
The Barrister is the HUSL student-edited newspaper.
The school publishes a news journal, The Jurist, and the Howard Docket newsletter. For the school's 140th anniversary, the school published A Legacy of Defending the Constitution: A Pictorial History Book of Howard University School of Law (1869-2009).
Howard Law enrolled 407 J.D. students for the 2012-2013 academic year, 100% of whom were enrolled full-time. 84.5% of the J.D. students were African-American and 63.4% were female. As of 2016, the law school admits 39.3% of applicants. HUSL students may participate in 26 extra-curricular groups, including the moot court team, associations focused on specific areas of law, law fraternities, and political, ethnic, and religious affiliation groups.
The campus is located at 2900 Van Ness St NW, Washington, DC 20008 in the upper Northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., in the Forest Hills area of the city. It is a few blocks from the University of the District of Columbia and the headquarters of Intelsat. The law school is located on its own 22-acre (89,000 m2) campus approximately five miles from the main campus.
The campus was built by Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross, which occupied it until the school closed in 1973. The school's main building, Houston Hall, is named after Charles Hamilton Houston. The library was named after Vernon Jordan after his death in March 2021.
Howard Law had a 41.2% acceptance rate in 2013 with the school receiving 1,085 applications. The school's matriculation rate was 33.8% with 151 of the 447 admits enrolling. The median LSAT score for students enrolling in HUSL in 2013 was 151 (47.8th percentile) and the median GPA was 3.13.
According to Howard Law's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 50% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, bar passage-required employment nine months after graduation. HUSL's full-time long-term bar passage-required employment rate for 2013 graduates was below the national average of 57% for ABA-approved law schools.
301 firms recruit at Howard Law, a number that is comparable to "Top 14" law schools like Yale Law School (where 326 firms recruit) and Cornell Law School (where 211 firms recruit) and includes elite firms like Cravath, Swaine & Moore, which only conducts interviews at 21 law schools. But while more than 60% students who graduated from Yale Law School and Cornell Law School in 2013 were hired for federal clerkships or at law firms with more than 250 employees, only 13% of 2013 Howard Law graduates secured such positions.
Howard Law's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 18.1%, 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. 84% of the Class of 2013 was employed in some capacity while 0.7% were pursuing graduate degrees and 10.9% were unemployed nine months graduation.
Howard Law placed 45th on the 2014 National Law Journal "Top 50 Go-To" list, climbed to No. 22 on the 2015 list, and fell to a respectable 37th for the 2016 list, and climbed back to 32nd for the 2017 list. The list ranks the top 50 schools by the percentage of JDs who accept first-year associate positions at the 100 largest firms.
The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Howard Law for the 2014-2015 academic year is $60,240 with tuition set at $31,148. The $60,240 total cost of attendance at Howard Law is lower than some schools in the D.C. area — for example George Washington University Law School's total cost of attendance is $78,040 for the 2014-2015 academic year — but higher than others, such as the University of the District of Columbia's David A. Clarke School of Law where the total cost of attendance for D.C. residents for the 2013-2014 school year was $41,630.
The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $229,755.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Howard Law as a top 100 law school in 2023.
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