Columbus School of Law

Coordinates: 38°56′10″N 76°59′49″W / 38.936°N 76.997°W / 38.936; -76.997
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The Catholic University of America
Columbus School of Law
MottoDeus Lux Mea Est - God Is My Light
Parent schoolCatholic University of America
Established1898 by the Knights of Columbus[1]
School typePrivate law school
DeanStephen C. Payne
LocationWashington, D.C., U.S.
38°56′10″N 76°59′49″W / 38.936°N 76.997°W / 38.936; -76.997
Faculty86 (29 full-time; 57 non-full-time)[2]
USNWR ranking94th (tie) (2024)[3]
Bar pass rate89%[4]
ABA profileABA Required Disclosures

The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law is the law school of the Catholic University of America, a private Roman Catholic research university in Washington, D.C., United States.

More than 400 Juris Doctor students attend Catholic Law. Incoming classes are typically composed of about 150 students, including day and evening programs.[2] Around 1,500 students apply annually.[2] According to Catholic Law's 2023 ABA-required disclosures, 92% of 2022 graduates obtained full-time, long-term employment requiring bar passage ten months after graduation.[5]


Catholic University of America began offering instruction in law in 1895, as part of its decision to open "faculties for the laity."[1] The department was turned into an official school in 1898.[1]

In 1919, the Knights of Columbus founded an educational program known as Columbus University which provided an evening education program for Catholic war veterans returning from World War I. This institution was closely affiliated with Catholic University and shared faculty at both institutions' Washington, D.C., locations. In 1954, Columbus University (then consisting only of an evening law school) merged with Catholic University's law school to form the Columbus School of Law.[citation needed]

The law school has been accredited by the Association of American Law Schools since 1921[6] and the American Bar Association since 1925.[7] Catholic University's law school has established a progressive history of inclusion.[citation needed] Its first African-American student was enrolled in 1902; its first female student in 1922.[citation needed]


In the 2024 "Best Law Schools" edition of U.S. News & World Report, the Columbus School of Law is ranked 94th.[3] Its part-time program is ranked 26th.[3]

Student body[edit]

As of October 2021[needs update], Catholic Law enrolled 406 J.D. students, including 161 first-year students. Catholic Law received 1493 applications for 2021 enrollment and offered admission to 593, an acceptance rate of 40%. Among its first-year class, the median LSAT score was 158 and median undergraduate GPA was 3.5.[2]

Of Catholic Law's 406 students[needs update] enrolled in October 2021, 283 (70%) attended full-time and 123 (30%) attended part-time. According to the U.S. News & World Report, 60% of the student body was female and 40% male. In addition, the student body was 68% white, 10% Hispanic, 6% Black or African American, 5% Asian, less than 1% Pacific Islander and American Indian, 5% two or more races, 5% unknown race, and 1% international.[3]

In the 2013–2014 academic year, Catholic Law admitted 161 students and enrolled a total of 519 students.[8] The law school had the third largest drop in enrollment between the 2010–2011 academic year and 2013–2014 academic year, with enrollment falling 39.5%.[9]

Over 30 student organizations are active on campus.[10] The school 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.[11] The moot court team holds an annual inter-school competition between 1Ls called SoapBox.[12]


During the 2021-2022 academic year[needs update], annual tuition and fees were $56,040 for full-time J.D. students and $38,690 for part-time J.D. students. The annual estimated total cost of attendance for J.D. students not living with their parents, which includes tuition and fees, living expenses, transportation expenses, book expenses, and miscellaneous personal expenses, was $85,840 for full-time students and $68,490 for part-time students.[13] Between 2015 and 2019, the average annual increase in tuition and fees at Catholic Law was 2.86%.[14] In addition, in the 2020–21 academic year, 98% of part-time students and 100% of full-time students received a scholarship or grant from Catholic Law.[2]

Employment outcomes[edit]

According to Catholic Law's official 2021 ABA-required disclosures, the first-time bar passage rate of 2020 graduates was 89%.[4] Within nine months of graduation, 59% of 2021 graduates obtained full-time, long-term employment requiring bar passage; 23% obtained employment in full-time, long-term positions where having a J.D. was preferred; 2% obtained employment in other full-time, long-term professional positions; and the remaining 16% either obtained short-term positions or part-time positions, did not obtain employment, or did not report their employment status.[5] None of those jobs were school-funded positions.[5] Graduates who obtained full-time, long-term positions within nine months of graduation became employed in a variety of contexts, including approximately 4% in federal judicial clerkships, 15% in state and local judicial clerkships, 24% in government, 29% in private practice, 21% in business and industry, 6% in public interest, and 1% in education. Geographically, most of Catholic Law's 2021 graduates who became employed within nine months of graduation were hired to work in Washington, D.C., followed by Virginia and Maryland.[5]

Catholic Law ranked 150th out of the 201 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.[15]



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. The first-year curriculum is prescribed for all students. The day-division curriculum consists of seven required courses totaling 29 credit hours.[16] 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 curriculum is designed to strengthen first-year doctrinal courses, to support the development of practice-area concentrations, and to emphasize training that will help graduates transition to the real world of practice.

The upper-division curriculum comprises several requirements, courses that are strongly recommended, and elective options. Catholic Law students must complete a minimum of 84 credits to earn the J.D. degree. Required upper division courses include Constitutional Law II, Professional Responsibility, Professional Skills, and Upper-Level Writing.[16] The law school is developing a Transition-to-Practice requirement for students. This requirement is expected to be fulfilled by taking either a clinical course or a capstone course. Foundational courses for all areas of legal practice—and thus strongly recommended for all upper-class students—include Evidence, Corporations, and Criminal Procedure.

To respond to increasing demand for specialized legal services, the Law School has developed practice-area concentrations for upper division students in Civil Litigation, Criminal Litigation, Family Law, Intellectual Property, Labor and Employment Law, and Securities Regulation.[17]

Degrees offered[edit]

In addition to the J.D. program, the school offers LL.M. programs in Law & Technology, Securities Law, and Comparative and International Law.[18]

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.[19] 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.

The school offers a M.L.S. degree program, which enhances the ability of professionals to work with lawyers and legal issues, to gain a deeper knowledge of a particular legal field, and to understand laws and regulations. Students can choose to concentrate in the fields of Compliance and Corporate Responsibility, Employment and Human Resources, or Intellectual Property. Alternatively, students may choose a General U.S. Law option, which provides a broad overview of the law and legal practice.


As of the 2020–2021 academic year[needs update], Catholic Law had 86 faculty members, including 29 full-time faculty members and 57 non-full-time faculty members.[2] The law school's student-faculty ratio was 7.1 to 1.[3]

Institutes and programs[edit]

Catholic Law offers five opportunities for specialized legal study; four of them are certificate-granting.[17] 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:

  • Comparative and International Law Institute
  • Compliance, Investigation, and Corporate Responsibility
  • Law and Public Policy Program
  • Law and Technology Institute
  • Securities and Corporate Law Program

Experiential learning[edit]

Founded in 1969, Columbus Community Legal Services offers four legal clinics that offer students hands-on learning. The Columbus Community Legal Services clinics include the General Practice Clinic; the Families and the Law Clinic; Advocacy for the Elderly; and the Consumer Protection Clinic.[20] In addition, the school offers the Criminal Prosecution Clinic, the Immigration Litigation Clinic, the Innocence Project Clinic and Clemency Project, the Virginia Criminal Defense Clinic, and an SEC Student Observer Program.[21]

The Columbus School of Law has an extensive legal externship program through which about 200 upper-class students per year earn course credits during the fall, spring, and summer semesters 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.[22]


The Columbus School of Law has two student-edited law journals:[23]


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. Completed in 1994, the law school building contains the Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library, the Walter A. Slowinski and Haislip and Yewell Courtrooms, and the three-story Keelty Atrium. The building is located in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and is a five-minute walk from the Brookland-CUA metro station.

Notable alumni[edit]


Federal government[edit]

Federal judiciary[edit]

State government[edit]



  • Alexandra Dunn, executive director and general counsel of the Environmental Council of States


  1. ^ a b c "Columbus School of Law: History". Columbus School of Law. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "The Catholic University of America 2022 Standard 509 Information Report" (PDF). Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Catholic University of America". Retrieved April 10, 2024.
  4. ^ a b "Catholic University of America 2021 Bar Passage Report" (PDF). American Bar Association. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d "Employment Summary for 2022 Graduates" (PDF). Retrieved April 28, 2023.
  6. ^ "AALS Member and Fee-Paid Schools". AALS. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  7. ^ "Alphabetical School List". ABA. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  8. ^ "The Catholic University of America 2013 Standard 509 Information Report" (PDF). Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  9. ^ "Cooley, NYLS have largest enrollment declines since 2010-2011". National Jurist. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  10. ^ "CUA Law Student Organizations". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  11. ^ "Moot Court". Columbus School of Law. Archived from the original on November 30, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  12. ^ "SoapBox". Columbus School of Law. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  13. ^ "Cost of Attendance". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  14. ^ "Catholic University of America Profile". Law School Transparency. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  15. ^ Leichter, Matt. "Class of 2013 Employment Report". The Law School Tuition Bubble. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
  16. ^ a b "Course Requirements, First-Year Courses". Columbus School of Law. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  17. ^ a b "Certificate Programs and Concentrations". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  18. ^ "LL.M. Program". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  19. ^ "LL.M. Program offered by CUA in cooperation with Jagiellonian University". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  20. ^ "Columbus Community Legal Services". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  21. ^ "Clinics and Practical Training". Columbus School of Law. Archived from the original on July 16, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  22. ^ "Legal Externships". Columbus School of Law. Archived from the original on February 5, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  23. ^ "Journals". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "CUA Law Notable Alumni". Columbus School of Law. Archived from the original on July 24, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  25. ^ Charlene Barshefsky "Dedication," Catholic University Law Review, Volume 47, Issue 3, Spring 1998, Article 2.
  26. ^ Flint, Peter. "John Harold Fanning Dies at 73; A Chief of Labor Relations Board". New York Times. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  27. ^ "Biographical Profile for Martin Connor". Vote NY. Archived from the original on January 9, 2015. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  28. ^ "Kelly Murphy-D runs against Alan Livingston-R, for House District 125 seat". Press Herald. September 29, 2022. Retrieved December 24, 2023.
  29. ^ "Retired Judge Charles Pomeroy dies", Waterville Morning Sentinel (December 30, 1993), p. 7.
  30. ^ Connecticut Reports (1965), volume 152, p. 758-759.

External links[edit]