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Washington University School of Law

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Washington University School of Law
Established 1867
School type Private non-profit
Endowment $121 million
Dean Kent D. Syverud
Location St. Louis, MO, US
Faculty (See List)
Annual tuition
Outlines 0 (See List)
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Washington University School of Law is located in St. Louis, MO

Washington University School of Law, is a private American law school located in Clayton, Missouri. The law school is one part of the seven graduate and undergraduate schools at Washington University in St. Louis.

Founded in 1867, the Washington University School of Law is the oldest continually operating private law school west of the Mississippi river. Originally, the law school was located in downtown St. Louis, and in 1904 it relocated to the Danforth Campus of Washington University in St. Louis. Presently, the law school is located in Anheuser-Busch Hall, part of the Danforth Campus at Washington University in St. Louis.

Ranking and honors

Anheuser-Busch Hall the main Law school building

The 2008 edition of U.S. News & World Report's "Best Grad Schools" ranked the Washington University School of Law:[1]

  • 19th in the country overall
  • 3rd in the country in Trial Advocacy
  • 4th in the country in Clinical Training

Recent Leiter’s Law School Rankings placed the law school:[2][3]

  • 18th in the country (tie) in Student Quality
  • 19th in the country (tie) in Academic Reputation
  • 20th in the country (tie) in Lawyer/Judge Reputation

Despite these relatively high rankings, Vault has recently ranked the Washington University School of Law as one of the most "underrated" in the country. [4]

Degreee Program

JD Program

Most of the students at Washington University School of Law are enrolled in the juris doctor (JD) program. For matriculated students graduating in or before May 2009, this program comprises 85 semester hours of credit, usually completed in three years. Beginning with the class of 2009, JD students will be required to take 86 semester hours of credit in order to graduate. During the first year, students are required to take a set required classes. In the fall, these classes include: contracts, property, torts, and legal research and writing I. In the spring, these classes include: civil procedure, constitutional law, criminal law, and legal reserach and writing II. The second and third year offer more flexibility in planning the student's curriculum as there is only two mandatory classes (a class from the ethics curriculum and one seminar). In addition to their substantive coursework, many second and third year students participate in moot court, a scholary publication, a clinic, or an externship.

Joint Degree Programs

For students interested in a more general interdisciplinary course of study, the School of Law offers five joint degree programs (usually completed in four years, as opposed to three for a standard JD). These include:

JD-MBA, with Washington University's John M. Olin School of Business
JD-MA in East Asian Studies, with the Washington University School of Arts and Sciences
JD-MA in Economics, with the Washington University School of Arts and Sciences
JD-MA in Health Administration, with theWashington University School of Medicine
JD-MSW (Master of Social Work), with the Washington University George Warren Brown School of Social Work

Master of Laws (LLM) Program

Washington University School of Law offers has three LLM programs. These include: LL.M. in U.S. Law forInternational Students LL.M. in Intellectual Property & Technology Law LL.M. in Taxation

Master of Juridical Studies (MJS) Program
This program is designed for individuals who need a limited legal education, but who do not require a professional degree. This degree, which requires 30 credit hours, is the equivalent of an MA or MS degree.

Juris Scientiae Doctoris (JSD) Program

This Program is available to students who have already completed their LLM studies. The Program does not follow a general program format. Rather, the students facilty adivosr will select the students JSD requirements, which highly emphasizes original research and writing skills.

Clinical Program

The clinical program at Washington University School of Law is ranked by U.S. News and World Report fourth in the nation, and claims to "provide students opportunities to learn professional skills and values by working in the real world with clients, attorneys, judges, and legislators."
Washington University School of Law offers nine clinical programs, which include:
Appellate Advocacy
Students in the Appellate Clinic represent pro se litigants in cases to be heard on appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. After the clerk of the court assigns cases at the beginning of the semester, students handle all aspects of the appeal, including motions, filings, and briefs. This clinic calls for extensive research and writing.

Civil Justice
The Civil Justice Clinic requires students to handle their own case load under the supervision of the faculty. In utilizing the student body for representation, the Civil Justice Clinic assists in the provision of legal services to needy members of the community and imparts the obligation for public service. The Clinic also includes a weekly seminar in which students are encouraged to think critically about the law, the legal system, lawyers, and their roles as professionals.

Civil Rights & Community Justice
In the Civil Rights and Community Justice Clinic, students work at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and in selected plaintiff law firms on cases of alleged discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, sex, age, and disability in employment, education, and other arenas. Students engage in interviewing, counseling, case analysis and planning, problem solving, fact investigation, document drafting, negotiation, mediation, and community education. In addition to law office practice, the Civil Rights and Community Justice Clinic includes an in-house component in which students observe and conduct mediations, assist in at least one legislative drafting experience, and participate in at least one civil rights community education project of the student's choosing.

Criminal Justice
The Criminal Justice Clinic operates in collaboration with the St. Louis County office of the Missouri State Public Defender System, which is the second largest criminal defense office in Missouri, and which is located approximately one mile from the law school in the St. Louis County Justice Center. The Criminal Justice Clinic exposes students to real life lawyering skills within the framework of the state level criminal justice system. Clinic students have the opportunity to serve as Rule 13 certified legal interns, and perform the work of a lawyer, representing clients facing criminal charges.

Congressional & Administrative Law
In this Clinic, approximately 24 third-year law students spend their Spring semester in Washington D.C. and work under the direction of attorneys in a variety of government offices. Examples include the House and Senate Judiciary Committee, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, the Corporate Finance Section of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

As prerequisite to taking this course, students participating in the Congressional and Administrative Law Clinic are required to enroll a course on ethics in government in addition to their daily work at the internship. Well-known personalities - which in the past have included Ken Starr, Webb Hubbell, Bob Bennett and David Kendall - regularly lead classroom discussions on topical subjects.

Government Lawyering
The Government Lawyering Clinic provides the opportunity for students to work with attorneys in the Criminal or Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office.
Students in this Clinic work in the Eastern District of Missouri office in St. Louis or the Southern District of Illinois office in East St. Louis. Clinic students in the Criminal Division participate in criminal investigations and prosecution (from initial fact investigations to final appellate work).

Interdisciplinary Environmental
This Clinic consists of both "student attorneys" (second and third year law students) and "student consultants" (graduate and upper-level undergraduates students of Washington University studying engineering, environmental studies, medicine, social work and/or business), work in interdisciplinary teams under faculty supervision. These teams offer legal and technical assistance on environmental and community health problems to individuals and organizations that cannot afford to pay for such services. Clinic teams work on issues relating to air and water quality, lead poisoning, environmental justice, habitat destruction and wetlands.

In March 2007, the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic helped reach a milestone agreement between Sierra Club and Kansas City Power & Light ("KCPL"). This agreement requires KCPL to make the most significant carbon reduction commitments of any utility in the Midwest.[5][6][7][8][9]

Intellectual Property & Business Formation
Students in this Clinic collaborate with students from the School of Medicine, Olin School of Business, the Department of Biomedical Engineering, the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, and Arts & Sciences; and to provide intellectual property and business formation legal services to clients who might otherwise not have access to competent legal counsel.
This Clinic is designed to work with St. Louis-area IP attorneys to provide early stage legal advice to other innovators and entrepreneurs, especially with business incubators in the St. Louis area; work with nonprofit organizations such as: St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA), and Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors (PIIPA).

Judicial Clerkship
The Judicial Clerkship externship exposes students to civil and criminal litigation from the judicial perspective. Students work as part-time law clerks under the supervision of local, state or federal trial or appellate judges. Students participating in the Judicial Clerkship externship course observe hearings, trials and other court proceedings; perform legal research; and draft a series of legal memoranda relevant to cases under submission by the courts.

Student publications

The Washington University School of Law presently has three student run publications. After the completion of their first year, students are encouraged to participate in a "write-on" competition. This competition has generally entailed writing a case comment. Based upon the quality of a student's case comment, a student may be invited to join the publication of their choice.
Second-year students participating in one of the three Washington University School of Law student run publications are considered "associate" or "staff" editors. In addition to their editing responsibilities (which generally consist of "shelf-checks"), these students are required to write a "note." Based upon the quality of their writing, students may be asked to publish their note in the publication in which they belong. Rising third-year law students are encouraged to apply for an editorial position within their publication. These board positions range from lower-level editing positions to the editor-in-chief position.

Washington University Law Review

Inaugurated as the St. Louis Law Review in 1915 and re-titled the Washington University Law Quarterly in 1936, the Law Review is a student-run academic journal that publishes six issues per year. The staff selects and edits articles from legal scholars, practitioners, and students, and welcomes submissions on any legal topic.

In addition to publishing printed publications, Law Review currently maintains a blog titled Slip Opinions[10]. Slip Opinions is an online supplement to the Washington University Law Review featuring original commentary and debate by members of the legal academy, bench, and bar.

Washington University Journal of Law and Policy

This publication originated in 1968 as the Urban Law Annual and focused entirely on issues surrounding land use, urban development, and other legal concerns of urban communities. The scope broadened in 1983 when the Journal expanded (and became the Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law) to encompass a broad range of topics. In 1999, the Journal once again broadened its scope to become the Washington University Journal of Law & Policy.

The Journal generates a symposium-based publication that brings together communities of scholars, to emphasize existing and emerging visions of the law in relation to interdisciplinary and multicultural perspectives, the implications of technology, and the consequences of economic globalization for the purpose of influencing law and social policy.

Each year, the Journal publishes an “Access to Justice” volume. This volume is a compilation of essays from the Washington University School of Law’s “Access to Justice” speaker series, one goal of which is to encourage and challenge audiences to use their legal education for the ultimate betterment of our society. Additionally, the Journal collaborates with faculty members to publish symposia along a broad spectrum of contemporary topics.

Washington University Global Studies Law Review

Global Studies Law Review is a student-edited legal journal dedicated to publishing articles by international, foreign and comparative law scholars. Global publishes triennially. Global's publications present articles, book reviews, essays, and notes from academics, practitioners, and students, respectively.


In January 1997, Washington University School of Law moved into Anheuser-Busch Hall. Anheuser-Busch Hall architecturally mirrors the classic style of the Washington University Danforth Campus. Anheuser-Busch Hall includes two fully functional courtrooms; numerous classrooms; and an open-stacks Law Library. Additionally, AB Hall includes common areas, such as the W.L. Hadley Griffin Student Commons and the unique Crowder Courtyard. In AB Hall all classrooms, seminar rooms, and breakout rooms have both computing and multimedia capabilities. Each classroom and seminar room is also equipped with a multimedia projection system. This allows instructors to video-tape classes and post the lectures online.

Presently, construction is under way for the new Social Sciences and Law Building. The new building is being erected on a site just southwest of Anheuser-Busch Hall. Ground was broken for the four-story, Collegiate Gothic building on September 5, 2006; the targeted date for completion is June 30, 2008. About 15,000 square feet of the new building’s 83,000 net square feet have been earmarked for the law school.

Further reading