George Washington University Law School
The George Washington University Law School (abbreviated as GW Law) is the law school of George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. Established in 1865, GW Law is the oldest top law school in the national capital. GW Law boasts the nation's largest course offerings with 275 elective courses in business and finance law, environmental law, government procurement law, intellectual property law, international comparative law, litigation and dispute resolution, and national security and U.S. foreign relations law. Admissions are highly selective as the law school regularly receives the second largest volume of applications with an incoming class of 508 1Ls.
|George Washington University|
|Parent school||George Washington University|
|Parent endowment||$1.73 billion|
|Location||Washington, District of Columbia, US|
|USNWR ranking||27th (2022)|
|Bar pass rate||88.02%|
GW Law has a vast and highly accomplished alumni network within the fields of law and government, including the former U.S. Attorney General, the current U.S. Secretary of the Interior, foreign heads of state, judges of the International Court of Justice, ministers of foreign affairs, a Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization, Directors of the CIA, members of U.S. Congress, U.S. State Governors, 4 Directors of the FBI, and numerous Federal judges. The law school publishes 9 student-run journals and hosts highly ranked skills competitions, such as the Van Vleck Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition. GW is ranked as the 11th best moot court program in the country and regularly hosts a U.S. Supreme Court justice on its three-judge panel.
The 2022 U.S. News & World Report ranks GW Law as the 27th top law school in the United States. The National Law Journal ranked GW Law 21st for law schools that sent the highest percentage of new graduates to NLJ 250 law firms, the largest and most prominent law practices in the U.S.
The George Washington University Law School founded in the 1820s but closed in 1826 due to low enrollment. The law school's first two professors were William Cranch, chief justice of the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia and second reporter of the U.S. Supreme Court, and William Thomas Carroll, a descendant of Charles Carroll the Settler and Clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1827 until his death in 1863. The law school was reestablished in 1865 and was the first law school in the District of Columbia.
Law classes resumed in 1865 in the Old Trinity Episcopal Church, and the school graduated its first class of 60 students in 1867. The Master of Laws degree program was adopted by the school in 1897. In 1900, the school was one of the founding members of the Association of American Law Schools. In 1954, it merged with National University School of Law of Washington. The law school operated under the name National Law Center for the 37 years from 1959 to 1996, when it was renamed the George Washington University Law School.
Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, William Strong, David J. Brewer, Willis Van Devanter and John Marshall Harlan were among those who served on its faculty. Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Justice Samuel Alito presided over its moot court in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2014, and 2016.
GW Law has the oldest intellectual property program in the country, with alumni having written patents for some of the greatest technological achievements of the past 130 years—including the Wright brothers' flying machine, patented on May 22, 1906.
- National University School of Law
The National University School of Law was merged into the George Washington University School of Law in 1954. The school was founded in 1869. Many alumni served in prominent political and legal positions throughout the school's history.
J.D. students are required to take courses on civil procedure, criminal law, constitutional law, contracts, introduction to advocacy, legal research and writing, professional responsibility and ethics, property, and torts.
GW Law offers more than 275 elective courses each year. The school boasts particularly robust offerings in business and finance law, environmental law, government procurement law, intellectual property law, international comparative law, litigation and dispute resolution, and national security and U.S. foreign relations law.
In addition to the juris doctor degree, GW Law offers the following joint degrees:
- J.D./M.B.A. with the School of Business
- J.D./Master of Public Administration with the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
- J.D./Master of Public Policy with the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
- J.D./M.A. with the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences in History (with a concentration in U.S. Legal History), in Women's Studies, or in Public Policy (with a concentration in Women's Studies)
- J.D./M.A. with the Elliott School of International Affairs
- J.D./Master of Public Health with the Milken Institute School of Public Health
- J.D./Public Health Certificate with the Milken Institute School of Public Health
The school also offers Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Environmental Law, Business and Finance Law, International Environmental Law, Government Procurement and Environmental Law, Intellectual Property Law, International and Comparative Law, Government Procurement Law, Litigation and Dispute Resolution, and National Security and U.S. Foreign Relations Law. The Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) is offered to a very limited number of candidates.
Instead of supplying students with individual class rankings, GW Law recognizes academic performance with two scholar designations. The top 1–15% of the class is designated George Washington Scholars while the top 16–35% of the class is designated Thurgood Marshall Scholars.
- The George Washington Law Review
- The George Washington International Law Review
- The George Washington Business & Finance Law Review
- The Federal Circuit Bar Journal
- The American Intellectual Property Law Association Quarterly Journal
- The Public Contract Law Journal
- The Federal Communications Law Journal
- The Journal of Energy and Environmental Law
- International Law in Domestic Courts Journal
Students enrolled in the J.D. program come from 206 colleges and 11 countries. The law school also enrolls students from approximately 45 countries each year in its Master of Laws and Doctor of Juridical Science degree programs.
GW Law is located in the heart of Washington's Foggy Bottom neighborhood, across the street from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund headquarters, and a few blocks away from the State Department and the White House.
In 2000, the law school began a major building and renovation plan. The school has expanded into buildings on the east side of the University Yard.
The law school currently occupies nine buildings on the main campus of The George Washington University. The law school's main complex comprises five buildings anchored by Stockton Hall (1924) located on the University Yard, the central open space of GW's urban campus. Renovated extensively between 2001 and 2003, these buildings adjoin one another, have internal passageways, and function as one consolidated complex. Three townhouses directly across from the main complex house the Community Legal Clinics, Student Bar Association, and student journal offices.
For the class entering in the fall of 2019, 2,488 out of 8,019 J.D. applicants (31%) were offered admission, with 489 matriculating. The 25th and 75th LSAT percentiles for the 2019 full-time entering class were 160 and 167, respectively, with a median of 166 (93rd percentile). The 25th and 75th undergraduate GPA percentiles were 3.40 and 3.84, respectively, with a median of 3.74. In the 2018–19 academic year, GW Law had 1,525 J.D. students, of which 25% were minorities and 51% were female.
In order to apply for the J.D. program, students must have taken the LSAT within the past five years and must submit a personal statement and at least one letter of recommendation. The GRE is also accepted instead of the LSAT. An applicant with scores for the GRE and the LSAT, the LSAT score will be reviewed. Applications are considered on a rolling basis starting in October and must be submitted by March 1.
U.S. Supreme Court Clerkships
Since 2005, GW Law has had seven alumni serve as judicial clerks at the U.S. Supreme Court, one of the most distinguished appointments a law school graduate can obtain. This record gives GW Law a ranking of 14th among all law schools nationwide (out of 204 ABA approved law schools), for supplying such law clerks for the period 2005–2017.
GW Law has placed 27 clerks at the U.S. Supreme Court in its history, including in the 1930s Francis R. Kirkham, later partner at Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro in San Francisco and then general counsel to Standard Oil of California, and Reynolds Robertson, who worked for Cravath, deGersdorff, Swaine & Wood in New York City, both co-authors of a seminal work on the Court's jurisdiction.
GW Law's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 12.1%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2019 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job ten months after graduation. 0.6% of graduates were in school-funded jobs. 89.5% of the Class of 2019 was employed in some capacity, 1.4% were pursuing a graduate degree, and 6.8% were unemployed and seeking employment.
The total cost of full-time attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at GW Law for the 2018–2019 academic year is $88,340. GW Law's tuition and fees on average increased by 4.1% annually over the past five years.
GW Law is ranked #27 in the 2022 Law School Rankings of U.S. News & World Report. GW Law ranks #5 for its international law program, #5 for intellectual property law, #2 for part-time law, and #10 for environmental law.
The National Law Journal ranked GW Law 21st in its 2014 Go-To Law Schools list, a ranking of which law schools sent the highest percentage of new graduates to NLJ 250 law firms.
According to Brian Leiter's law school rankings, GW Law ranked 17th in the nation for Supreme Court Clerkship Placement between 2003 and 2013, 19th in terms of student numerical quality, and 16th for law faculties with the most "scholarly impact" as measured by numbers of citations.
Notable faculty members include:
- Clarence Thomas
- John Banzhaf
- Jerome A. Barron
- Paul Schiff Berman
- Thomas Buergenthal
- Steve Charnovitz
- Mary Cheh
- Donald C. Clarke
- Lawrence Cunningham
- William Kovacic
- Alan Morrison
- Ralph Oman
- Richard J. Pierce
- Randall Ray Rader
- Jeffrey Rosen
- Catherine J. Ross
- Lisa M. Schenck
- Jonathan Turley
- Daniel Solove
- GW Law professor and legal writer Steve Charnovitz in 2019
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