Columbus School of Law

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The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law
Catholic University of America logo.png
Motto Deus Lux Mea Est - God Is My Light
Established 1897
Type Private
Dean Daniel F. Attridge
Admin. staff 53
Students 528
Location Washington, D.C., US
Campus Urban

The Columbus School of Law, also known as CUA Law, is the law school of The Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C.

More than 500 Juris Doctor students attend CUA Law. Incoming classes are typically composed of about 150 hundred students, including day and evening programs. Around 1,900 students apply annually.[citation needed] Approximately one half of the law school's 12,000 alumni practice in the greater Washington, D.C. area. CUA Law is located slightly more than two miles north of the United States Capitol and is a five-minute walk from the Brookland/CUA D.C. metro station.


Since its inception in 1897, Catholic University’s law school has established a progressive history of inclusion. Its first African-American student was enrolled in 1902; its first female student in 1922. The law school is an acknowledged pioneer in clinical legal education. Its nationally ranked Columbus Community Legal Services (CCLS) has served the poor and disadvantaged population of Washington, D.C. since 1970. Total enrollment today ranges between 500-600 students. The law school is located just minutes from the heart of Washington, D.C., the nation’s legal epicenter and the best city in America for the study of law. Completed in 1994, the law building is built around a magnificent atrium and offers 170,000 square feet of space. The Columbus School of Law derives its name from a 1954 merger with the former law school supported by the Knights of Columbus. The law school has been accredited by the Association of American Law Schools since 1921 and the American Bar Association since 1925.


The Catholic University of America is chartered and founded upon the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, although faculty and students observe many faiths. Three professors are also members of the clergy, including a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi, a Shiite Muslim Ayatollah and an Episcopal priest. The law school features a chapel offering daily mass. The building also contains the Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library, the Walter A. Slowinski and Haislip and Yewell Courtrooms, and the three-story Keelty Atrium. It features a cafeteria, student lockers, an underground attached parking garage, and an ATM. Unlike many law school campuses that are separate from their home institutions, the Columbus School of Law is located on the campus of The Catholic University of America and law students have access to many of the same services and facilities as undergraduate students.


Columbus School of Law

Catholic University's J.D. program can be completed over three years of full-time day study or four years of part-time evening study.

J.D. PROGRAM — FIRST YEAR The first-year curriculum is prescribed for all students. The day-division curriculum consists of seven required courses totaling 29 credit hours. Evening-division students are required to complete the same basic courses within the first two years of their law school career. Revised for 2013, the new curriculum is designed to achieve three main goals. It aims to strengthen first-year doctrinal courses, to support the development of practice-area concentrations to enable students who wish to specialize in selected substantive areas to acquire relevant expertise, and finally, the reforms emphasize training that will help graduates transition to the real world of practice.

UPPER DIVISION The upper-division curriculum comprises several requirements, courses that are strongly recommended, and elective options. CUA Law students must complete a minimum of 84 credits to earn the J.D. degree. Additional specific requirements apply to students who enroll in one of our structured certificate programs or concentrations. Other students can choose from a wide array of elective courses to design an academic plan that will fulfill their educational and professional objectives. Required upper division courses include Professional Responsibility, Professional Skills, and Upper-Level Writing. In addition, the law school is developing a Transition-to-Practice requirement for students. This new requirement is expected to be fulfilled by taking either a clinical course, or a capstone course. It will afford students the opportunity to apply the doctrinal knowledge, professional skills, and ethical values they have learned in the classroom to real world settings in an actual law practice or complex simulated practice.

Foundational courses for all areas of legal practice—and thus strongly recommended for all Upper Division students— include Evidence, Corporations, and Criminal Procedure.

Practice Area Course Offerings To respond to increasing demand for specialized legal services, the Law School has developed practice-area concentrations for upper division students. These are in addition to existing Institutes and Special Programs in Communications Law, Securities Law, Law and Public Policy, and Comparative and International Law, which students are encouraged to investigate and pursue. CUA law offers concentrations in the following practice areas: Civil Litigation, Criminal Litigation, Family Law and Estate Planning, Intellectual Property, and Labor and Employment Law.

Electives To assist upper-division students in planning their academic programs, the faculty has organized elective offerings into 31 course clusters grouped by practice area. Some courses are offered every year while others will be offered once every two or three years. Students who wish to focus in a particular area of the law will find the clusters helpful as a curriculum guide. Additional counseling and information is available from the academic dean’s office and faculty advisers.

The school offers LL.M. programs in Communications Law, Securities Law, and Comparative and International Law.[1]

The school also offers an LL.M. program in American law with the Faculty of Law and Administration of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland. It allows Jagiellonian law students and students enrolled in the CUA-JU LL.M. program to study the essential substantive and procedural elements of the legal system of the United States.

In addition to its J.D. program, Catholic University offers five opportunities for specialized legal study; four of them are certificate-granting. The programs are designed to give students the opportunity to pursue a specified concentration of courses. Each institute accepts approximately 15 students each academic year. They are:

Academics & student activities[edit]

The Columbus School of Law has several law journals, including the Catholic University Law Review, the Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy, and the CommLaw Conspectus: Journal of Communications Law and Policy. The school also has a moot court program, with teams practicing in international law, communications law, labor law, constitutional law, securities law, national security, and a trials competition. Additionally, there are more than 30 active student organizations on campus.

Founded in 1970, Columbus Community Legal Services offers four clinical opportunities that offer students hands-on learing in these areas of law: the General Practice Clinic; the Families and the Law Clinic; Advocacy for the Elderly, and the Consumer Protection Clinic. In addition, the school offers a Criminal Prosecution Clinic, an Immigration Litigation clinic, an Innocence Project Clinic and Clemency Project, the Virginia Criminal Defense Clinic, and an SEC Student Observer Program.

Legal Externships The Columbus School of Law has one of the most highly regarded legal externship programs in the United States. Through this program, about 200 upperclass students per year earn course credits during the fall, spring, and summer by working in nonprofit organizations; federal, state, and local government agencies; Congress; and for judges, law firms, trade associations and corporations in the D.C. area

Post-graduation Employment, Average Indebtedness & Rankings[edit]

Employment Outcomes[edit]

According to the law professor blog, The Faculty Lounge, based on 2012 data submitted by law schools to the American Bar Association, Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, only 36.6% of graduates obtained full-time, long term positions requiring bar admission (i.e., jobs as lawyers), 9 months after graduation, ranking 181st out of 197 law schools.[2]

Student Debt[edit]

According to U.S. News & World Report, the average indebtedness of 2013 graduates who incurred law school debt was $144,801 (not including undergraduate debt), and 86% of 2013 graduates took on debt.[3] This information should be considered in light of the fact that only 36.6% of 2012 graduates obtained full-time, long term positions requiring bar admission (i.e., jobs as lawyers) within 9 months after graduation.[4]


The school was ranked 80th in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual "Best Graduate Schools" edition for 2013.[5]

In the 2015 "Best Graduate Schools" edition of U.S. News & World Report, the Columbus School of Law saw a decline in the rankings from 80th to 107th.[6]

In the September 2013 issue of the National Jurist magazine, the law school ranked 20th in the percentage of its students who benefitted from full-time field placement in a legal externship.

Notable alumni[edit]


Federal government[edit]

Federal judiciary[edit]

State government[edit]


External links[edit]


  1. ^ LLM at CUA
  2. ^ Rosin, Gary. "Full Rankings: Bar Admission Required, Full-Time, Long Term", The Faculty Lounge, March 30, 2013. Retrieved on February 24, 2014, -- For the latest Employment Summary Reports from the American Bar Association, Section of Legal Education, see
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Coordinates: 38°56′10″N 76°59′49″W / 38.936°N 76.997°W / 38.936; -76.997