Howard University School of Law (also known as Howard Law or HUSL) is one of the professional graduate schools of Howard University. Located in Washington, D.C., it is one of the oldest law schools in the country and the oldest historically black college or university 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.
According to Howard Law's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 50% of 2013 graduates obtained full-time, long-term, bar passage-required employment nine months after graduation.
Howard University opened its legal department, led by John Mercer Langston, on January 6, 1869. The founders of Howard Law recognized âa great need to train lawyers who would have a strong commitment to helping black Americans secure and protect their newly established rightsâ during the countryâs 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.
Women at Howard Law
Howard Law was the first school in the nation to have a nondiscriminatory admissions policy, admitting white male and female students along with black students from its opening. 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.
The nationâs first black female lawyer, Charlotte E. Ray, was admitted to Howard's law program in 1869 and graduated in 1872. Despite Howard Universityâs policy of nondiscrimination, it is reported that Charlotte applied to the law program using her initials to disguise her gender because she was â[a]ware of the schoolâs reluctant commitment to the principle of sexual equality.â
Another woman, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, claimed to have been admitted to Howardâs law program in September 1869, prior to Ray. However, Carey claims she was barred from graduating on time because of her gender and ultimately graduated in 1883.
Eliza A. Chambers, an early white female graduate of Howardâs law program, was admitted in 1885 and successfully completed the three year course of study. However, âthe Law School faculty refused to hand in [Elizaâs] 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.â
Ties to the civil rights movement
Howard University School of Law has significant ties to the US 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.
First year students at Howard Law are required to take courses on civil procedure; constitutional law; contracts; criminal law; legal method/civil rights; 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 (L.L.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.
Programs and clinics
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:
- Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic
- Child Welfare Clinic
- Civil Rights Clinic
- Criminal Justice Clinic
- Fair Housing Clinic
- Intellectual Property and Trademark Clinic
- Investor Justice and Education Clinic
Howard Law has published the student-managed Howard Law Journal since 1955. Since 2007 the school has also published the Human Rights and Globalization Law Review, 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.
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 in the upper Northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., in the Forest Hills area of the city. The law school is located on its own 22-acre (89,000Â 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.
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.
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 â" for example George Washington University Law School's total cost of attendance is $78,040 for the 2014-2015 academic year â" 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 110th in its 2014 law school rankings.
Howard Law ranked 140th among ABA-approved law schools in terms of the percentage of 2013 graduates with non-school-funded, full-time, long-term, bar passage required jobs nine months after graduation.
Howard Law was ranked 45th on the National Law Journal's 2014 Go-To Law Schools ranking, a ranking of which law schools sent the highest percentage of new graduates to NLJ 250 law firms. Howard Law was the school that most outperformed its U.S. News & World Report rankings in the NLJ Go-To Law Schools ranking.
Howard Law was ranked in the top 20 by the NLJ for law schools with the highest placement rate in government and public interest jobs for 2012 graduates and was ranked 11th by U.S. News & World Report in terms of the percentage of 2012 graduates working in state and local clerkships.
- Henry Lee Adams, Jr., United States District Judge
- Louis Berry, civil rights activist in Louisiana
- Loretta Copeland Biggs, United States District Judge
- Aisha N. Braveboy, Maryland House of Delegates
- William Bryant, United States District Court Judge
- Roland Burris, United States Senate
- Maria Cabret, Supreme Court of the United States Virgin Islands
- Robert L. Carter, United States District Court Judge
- Mary Ann Shad Cary, first black woman to cast a vote in a national election
- Wiley Young Daniel, United States District Court Judge
- Leland DeGrasse, New York Supreme Court (Appellate Division) Judge
- Richard Erwin, United States District Judge
- Adrian Fenty, Mayor of Washington, DC
- Wilkie Ferguson, United States District Judge
- Emma Gillett, co-founder of American University's Washington College of Law and the first woman to be appointed notary public by the President of the United States
- William P. Greene, United States Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims
- Joseph Woodrow Hatchett, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
- Earl Hilliard, United States House of Representatives
- Odell Horton, former United States District Court Judge
- Vernon E. Jordan Jr., former president of the National Urban League and Senior Managing Director with Lazard Freres
- J. Curtis Joyner, United States District Court Judge
- Damon Keith, United States Court of Appeals Judge
- Sharon Pratt Kelly, Mayor of Washington, DC
- Henry L. Marsh, former Mayor of Richmond, Virginia and current Virginia State Senator
- Consuelo Bland Marshall, United States District Court Judge
- Thurgood Marshall, first African American United States Supreme Court Justice and first African American Solicitor General of the United States
- Gregory Meeks, United States House of Representatives
- Vicki Miles-LaGrange, United States District Court Judge
- Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, United States District Court Judge and International Criminal Tribunal
- Pauli Murray, was an American civil rights activist, women's rights activist, lawyer, and author. She was also the first black woman ordained an Episcopal priest.
- James E. O'Hara, United States House of Representatives
- Vincent Orange, Council of the District of Columbia Representative
- Tanya Walton Pratt, United States District Judge
- Charlotte E. Ray, first African American female lawyer
- Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia
- Scovel Richardson, United States Court of International Trade Judge
- Spottswood Robinson, United States Court of Appeals Judge
- William M. Skretny, United States District Court Judge
- Emmet G. Sullivan, United States District Court Judge
- Anne Elise Thompson, United States District Court Judge
- Joseph Cornelius Waddy, United States District Judge
- Walter Washington, first Mayor of Washington, DC
- Togo D. West, Jr., former United States Secretary of Veteran Affairs
- Leigh Whipper, actor.
- L. Douglas Wilder, first African American United States Governor and current Mayor of Richmond Virginia
- Alexander Williams, Jr., United States District Court Judge
- Harris Wofford, United States Senate
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