Saturday March 25 , 2017

Washington College of Law

Established 1896
Type Private
Dean Claudio Grossman
Academic staff Full-time: 58
Students 1,658
1483 JD
160 LLM
15 S.J.D.
Location Washington, D.C., United States
Campus Urban
Nickname WCL

American University Washington College of Law (WCL) is the law school of American University. It is located on Massachusetts Avenue in the Spring Valley region of northwest Washington. WCL is ranked in the top 50 law schools by US News and World Report. The school is accredited by the American Bar Association - ABA.


WCL was founded in 1896 by Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett in reply to a lack of legal learning opportunities for women in the area. Mussey herself learned the law by apprenticeship at her husband's law offices. She was rejected by numerous schools in the area, with the National University School of Law, which afterward merged into the George Washington University Law School, because "women did not have the attitude for the law." She and Gillett began teaching in Mussey's law offices after they were advanced by three women who wished to study with them. With its first graduating class, the Washington College of Law became the first law school to be founded by women, and also the first law school to graduate an all-female class. The "single-sex" education did not last long however: Mussey's male law clerk enrolled in 1897. WCL officially became part of American University in 1949.


WCL is well known for its Clinical, International Law, and Trial Advocacy programs, which are ranked 2nd, 5th, and 11th in the nation, correspondingly, by U.S. News & World Report. In 2008, WCL was included on U.S. News & World Report's college & university rankings list of the Top 100 Law Schools, where WCL constantly ranks in the top 50. In 2007-08, WCL was recognized as the most varied top-tier law school in the Washington, D.C. area, and the third most diverse among top-tier law schools in the nation in U.S. News' index of diversity recognized. Its master of laws (LL.M.) program ranks 13th nationally in the 2008 AUAP rankings.

WCL is also known for its strong programs in both human rights and public interest work. WCL offers grant money during the Equal Justice Foundation for students working in the public sector and offers special loan repayment aid programs.


WCL enrolls 1,646 students, 58 percent of whom are female. For the 2008 admissions cycle, WCL received 8,845 applications for 474 existing seats in the Juris Doctor program. The admissions rate was 21%. The 2009 incoming class had a median undergraduate GPA of 3.41 and a median LSAT of 163 (out of 180), a score which is higher than approximately 90 percent of all test-takers countrywide. WCL ranks 9th in racial diversity among top law schools. All 50 US and over 60 foreign countries are represented.

Degrees offered

WCL offers the Juris Doctor (J.D.), Master of Laws (LL.M.) in either international law or constitutional law, and Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degrees. As well, students can enroll in one of several dual degree programs existing at WCL, including a J.D./M.A. program with the School of International Service, J.D./M.B.A. and L.L.M/M.B.A programs with the Kogod School of Business, and J.D/M.P.P and L.L.M./M.P.P. with the School of Public Affairs.


Situated in the northwest edge of Washington, D.C., near the Maryland state line & is set within the boundaries of a housing neighborhood. WCL's six-story building is located at 4801 Massachusetts Avenue, with another set of offices located down the street at 4910 Massachusetts Avenue.

Programs and centers

  • Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
  • Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian law
  • Clinical Program
  • Externship Program
  • Health Law Project
  • Humphrey Fellowship Program (Fulbright Exchange)
  • Center for International Arbitration
  • International Legal Studies Program (ILSP)
  • International Visiting Scholars Program
  • Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project
  • National Institute of Military Justice
  • National Institute of Corrections/WCL Project on Addressing Prison Rape
  • Office of Public Interest
  • Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property
  • Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law
  • Program on Law & Government
  • Special Events & Continuing Legal Education
  • Trial Advocacy Program
  • UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic
  • War Crimes Research Office
  • Women & International Law Program
  • Women & the Law Program


Administrative Law Review

The Alternative Dispute Resolution Newsletter

The American Jurist

The American University International Law Review

The American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law

The American University Law Review

The Business Law Brief

The Criminal Law Brief

The Human Rights Brief

The Intellectual Property Brief

The Modern American

National Security Law Brief

Sustainable Development Law & Policy

Health Law & Policy

Legislation & Policy Brief

Notes and Recognitions

Administrative Law Review is the official publication of the American Bar Association Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice.

In 2005, the ABA recognized The Business Law Brief as the "Magazine of the Year."

On several occasions, the ABA has recognized The American Jurist as the "Best Law Student Magazine."

Notable faculty

Kristine Huskey

Stephen Wermiel

Paul Williams

Michael Tigar

Jamie Raskin

Stephen I. Vladeck

Notable alumni

Ilan Berman, Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council

Robert Byrd, Former United States Senator. (D-WV)

John Dean , White House Counsel to President Richard M. Nixon and key Watergate scandal figure

Tom Goldstein, co-founder of the firm Goldstein and Howe, and co-founder of Scotusblog.

Kim Guadagno (Class of 1983), sheriff of Monmouth County, New Jersey and first Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey

Henry E. Hudson, judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, and the first judge to rule against the Obama administration's health care reform law

Joe Johns, CNN correspondent based in the Washington, D.C. Bureau.

Joseph Kelliher, Former Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC").

Juliane Kokott, German Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Communities (EJC) and Professor at the University of St. Gallen

Rick Lazio, Former Congressman (R-NY) and lawyer.

Thomas Downey, Former Congressman (D-NY) and head of Downey McGrath Group.

Gerald Bruce Lee, Federal district judge.

Roy Lee, film producer.

John Moot Former General Counsel of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC").

Sophia A. Nelson, Attorney and Political Commentator.

Alice Paul, notable suffragist.

Kirill Reznik, State Delegate (D-Md), Maryland House of Delegates.

Dan Slater, Vice Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party.

Ed Tapscott, Head coach of the Washington Wizards.

Hugo Teufel III, Former Chief Privacy Officer of the Department of Homeland Security.

Reggie Walton, Federal district judge.

Juan Mari BrĂ¡s, Puerto Rico political leader.

Judith Sheindlin, TV judge "Judge Judy."

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