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Best Law Schools in DC

Written by Editorial Team
Updated: September 9, 2023
8 min read
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Washington, D.C., the political heart of the United States, is home to a cluster of prestigious law schools that attract students worldwide. These institutions are revered for their proximity to the nation's legal epicenter and their commitment to producing exceptional legal minds.

In this comprehensive guide from, we'll take a closer look at the top seven law schools in the District of Columbia, examining their unique features and strengths that set them apart in the competitive landscape of legal education. Whether you're a prospective law student or simply curious about the legal education landscape in the capital city, this guide will provide valuable insights into D.C.'s best law schools.

Attending law school is a significant commitment - both in terms of time and money! It's no secret that law school comes at a hefty price, and many lawyers take on massive student loan debt to pay for the cost of their education.

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best law schools in dc

Top Law Schools in Washington, D.C.

Georgetown University Law Center

Georgetown University Law Center, often referred to simply as Georgetown Law, stands at the pinnacle of legal education in the nation's capital. Founded in 1870, this prestigious law school has consistently ranked among the top law schools in the United States. With its reputation for academic excellence, accomplished faculty, and proximity to key legal institutions, Georgetown Law is a natural choice for many aspiring lawyers.

Georgetown Law offers diverse programs, including J.D. programs, LL.M. programs, and numerous joint degree programs. J.D. students can earn an LL.M. in environmental law, national security law, taxation, national and global health law, or international business and economic law alongside their J.D. through Georgetown’s dual degree programs. Furthermore, LL.M. students can enroll in joint degree programs where they earn a Master's in various majors alongside their LL.M.

The school's location in Washington, D.C., provides students with unparalleled opportunities for internships and externships, thanks to its proximity to the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress, several federal government agencies, and countless law firms and nonprofit organizations. Combined with its diverse program offerings, Georgetown University Law Center provides countless opportunities for aspiring lawyers to specialize in their area of interest and gain valuable experience to advance their careers.

The school counts numerous prominent figures among its alumni, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and countless senators, judges, and legal scholars.

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The George Washington University Law School

Situated in the heart of D.C., The George Washington Law School (GW Law) offers an ideal environment for aspiring lawyers to launch their careers. Founded in 1865, GW Law School has a rich history and strong commitment to producing lawyers ready to make a difference in the legal world.

GW Law offers a comprehensive range of programs, including full-time, part-time, and online J.D. programs and LL.M. and joint degree options. The school excels in various legal fields and empowers its law students to explore multifarious areas of study, including administrative law and government regulation, securities law, environmental law, family law, national security, and more.

With its strategic location in the heart of the nation's capital, GW Law offers students unparalleled access to government agencies, federal courts, and international organizations. GW Law students can work with influential legal practitioners and gain practical experience while in school.

GW also has an impressive alumni roster, including numerous judges, politicians, and legal scholars. Notable alumni include former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

Here are tips on how to get into law school and a list of the best majors for law school!

best law schools in washington dc

American University Washington College of Law

American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL) is known for its commitment to social justice and public interest law. Established in 1896, AUWCL has a strong reputation for producing lawyers who are dedicated to making a positive impact on society.

AUWCL offers a wide range of programs, including J.D., LL.M., and S.J.D. programs. The school is particularly renowned for its strong focus on international law, human rights law, and environmental law.

For example, AUWCL's technology law curriculum ensures students are well-versed in highly relevant legal issues, including cybersecurity, blockchain, and privacy. Law students can also learn about gender studies and women's rights in their legal education through the longstanding Gender and Justice clinic.

American University Washing College's location in D.C. provides students with opportunities to engage in internships and externships with various government agencies, NGOs, and advocacy groups, where they can apply legal theories from the classroom.

Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law

The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, commonly known as CUA Law, offers a unique combination of legal education and a strong ethical foundation for the legal profession. Established in 1897, CUA Law has a reputation for producing lawyers who prioritize moral and ethical values in their legal practice.

CUA Law offers J.D., LL.M., and M.S.L. programs and several joint degree options. The school is known for its strong programs in intellectual property law, health law, and law and public policy. Furthermore, the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law strongly emphasizes the development of ethical and moral values among its students, making it an excellent choice for those seeking to combine legal expertise with a strong ethical foundation.

Wondering how long law school is? Check out this blog to learn more!

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University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law

The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, commonly called UDC Law, has a unique mission: to produce lawyers committed to serving the public interest and addressing the legal needs of underserved communities. The school strives to produce lawyers who will use the law to help those in need and provides extensive practical training, with the largest clinical requirement of any U.S. law school.

UDC Law offers a J.D. program with a strong clinical and experiential learning focus. The school's commitment to social justice is deeply ingrained in its curriculum, with students engaging in hands-on legal work through various clinics and internships.

UDC Law's clinical programs are a cornerstone of its educational approach. These programs include the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic, the Juvenile and Special Education Law Clinic, and the Community Development Law Clinic, among others. Students have the opportunity to work directly with clients, gaining practical experience while addressing the legal needs of marginalized populations.

Community engagement is a central theme at UDC Law. The school actively encourages students to participate in pro bono work, community service projects, and advocacy initiatives. This hands-on involvement helps students connect their legal education to real-world issues and develop a strong sense of social responsibility.

In addition to full-time students in the full-time J.D. program, the school also offers a part-time evening program for students with full-time jobs, family obligations, or other responsibilities. 91% of students at UDC Law receive scholarships or financial aid, making law education more accessible at UDC than the average law school.

Find out if law schools give scholarships through this exclusive blog post!

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Howard University School of Law

Nestled within Washington D.C., the Howard University School of Law has earned its place among the top law schools in the nation. Founded in 1869, the school has a rich history of producing legal professionals dedicated to addressing racial and social injustices as a historically black research university.

Howard University School of Law offers a J.D. program that stands out for its emphasis on social justice, civil rights, and public interest law. The school's commitment to justice is reflected in its robust clinical programs, which allow students to engage in real-world legal work while addressing the needs of marginalized communities. As a result, law students at Howard University can make a difference in the lives of underserved communities while they are still in school.

One of Howard Law's standout features is its dedication to clinical education. Howard University's clinical training programs include the Civil Rights Clinic, the Fair Housing Clinic, and the Criminal Justice Clinic. These programs provide law students with hands-on experience in the legal field, preparing them to become advocates for change in various areas of law.

Howard University School of Law's alumni include numerous influential figures in law, civil rights, and public service. Among its most celebrated graduates is Thurgood Marshall, who became the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. Other notable alumni include Vernon Jordan, a prominent civil rights activist, and Lani Guinier, a legal scholar and professor.

Here is a guide on the best law schools in the U.S.!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Law Schools in Washington D.C.

What sets Washington, D.C., law schools apart from others?

Washington, D.C., law schools benefit from their proximity to the heart of American politics and government. This unique location provides students unparalleled access to internships, externships, and networking opportunities with government agencies, law firms, and nonprofit organizations. As a result, Washington, D.C., is home to a vibrant legal community that thrives on the city's rich legal history.

What types of law programs are available in D.C.?

Washington, D.C., law schools typically offer a wide range of programs, including Juris Doctor (J.D.) programs, Master of Laws (LL.M.) programs, and joint degree options. Some schools specialize in certain areas of law, such as international law, energy, environmental law, or public interest law. Be sure to check out a school's areas of study to determine if they have programs in your area of interest.

What is the cost of tuition for law schools in Washington, D.C.?

Tuition costs can vary significantly among D.C. law schools, and they may change from year to year. On average, law school tuition can range from approximately $20,000 to $60,000 per year, depending on the institution and whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student. Be sure to check the most recent tuition and fees information on each school's website for the most up-to-date information on law school tuition.

To continue learning about the best law schools in the nation, check out these blog posts on the best law schools in Texas and California! And don’t forget to create a free profile to start applying for law school scholarships as you build your school list. Editorial Team
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