Howard University School of Law

Howard University School of Law

Howard University School of Law, a coeducational, private institution in Washington, DC, was chartered by the US Congress in 1867. Howard is historically (and continues to be) a majority African American institution that offers an educational experience of exceptional quality and value to students with high academic potential. Particular emphasis is placed on providing educational opportunities for promising African Americans and other persons of color who are underrepresented in the legal profession, as well as for nonminority persons with a strong interest in civil and human rights and public service. The main campus of Howard is located in northwest Washington, DC, on Georgia Avenue.

The School of Law opened its doors in 1869. Originally, there was a great need to train lawyers with a strong commitment to helping black Americans secure and protect their newly established rights. Today, as a national law school, Howard is dedicated to protecting the rights of all Americans and understands that its place in the annals of legal history demands that it maintains and exemplifies truth, equality, and excellence in the pursuit of justice. The law school has a diverse student body and faculty. Howard University School of Law is fully accredited by the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools and certifies its graduates for the bar examination in all jurisdictions of the United States. The law school is located on a separate 22-acre campus on Van Ness Street NW, adjacent to Connecticut Avenue, approximately three miles from the main campus. For more information, please visit History: About the School of Law.

Special Programs

The School of Law has a strong commitment to public service and to human and civil rights. Many programs and activities of the school reflect that fact. The school also provides an opportunity for clinical experience in civil and criminal litigation. Howard law school also offers a summer study-abroad program in comparative and international law at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. The six-week program is approved by the ABA and offers constitutional, business, and trade law courses for credit.

Howard University hosts the World Food Institute (WFI), the Education Law Center (ELC), the Constitutional Law Center (CLC), and the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice (IIPSJ). WFI fosters the analysis and understanding of international agricultural and food law, regulations, and policy. The institute uses a multidisciplinary approach to promote food security and social development in the agricultural and agribusiness sectors, especially for the millions of persons living and working in rural areas around the world. ELC’s mission is to promote qualitatively equal educational opportunities for low-income, rural, and minority students by identifying and measuring the various indicators of educational inequality in primary and secondary schools. In addition, the ELC focuses on workforce development issues with a particular emphasis on addressing the barriers to ex-offender reentry. The CLC is one of only four constitutional law programs established by the US Congress and funded by the federal government. The center’s mission is to support the study of the US Constitution and the efforts to make the document’s promises a reality for all. The CLC supports many of the law school’s efforts around civil and human rights. It regularly hosts a chair that delivers a major lecture at the law school, teaches at least one upper-level course, and writes an essay, article, or amicus brief about a subject related to civil and human rights. IIPSJ is concerned with the disparity of access to, and exploitation of, intellectual property as it relates to racial and economic inequities. IIPSJ’s focus is on examining and utilizing intellectual property to advance social justice in this country and globally. These institutes and centers sponsor numerous programs for students, attorneys, and judges; publish papers; and support externships for students.

Howard University School of Law also offers a Family Law Certificate Program, which allows students interested in specializing in family law to earn the certificate concurrent with the JD degree. Our students can also take advantage of the Howard University Graduate School’s certificates in International Studies and Women’s Studies. An Honors Pro Bono Pledge Program promotes and encourages law students, working under the supervision of lawyers, to use their legal skills to assist those clients unable to afford legal services. Students who participate in this program can earn credit toward a pro bono award received at graduation from the law school. For more information, please visit Academic Programs and Institutes.


The curriculum leading to the first degree in law primarily covers three academic years of two semesters each. Students also have the option of taking courses during summer school or gaining credits while studying abroad in the summer to shorten the length of time needed to complete the degree.

Howard’s curriculum places particular emphasis on legal writing by providing four semesters of required legal writing training. In addition to a rich selection of courses in human and civil rights, a student can also choose from courses in environmental law, business and securities law, tax, criminal law and procedure, international law, civil litigation, property, intellectual property, entertainment law, family law, and trusts and estates. In addition to doctrinal courses, numerous courses emphasizing skills such as trial advocacy, pretrial litigation, alternative dispute resolution, legal drafting, and interviewing and client counseling are offered in some combination each semester. Students may also earn course credit as a member of the Howard Law Journal, or international, national, or trial moot court teams.

The curriculum in the third year provides diversified experiences, especially for students in the clinical programs. Students are encouraged to participate in one of the seven clinics or externships available in nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, and other public interest settings. The law school also offers specialized externships in tax and environmental law and at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As a supplement to the curriculum, the law school hosts several important annual lectures and symposia: the C. Clyde Ferguson Lecture (emphasis on international human rights), the Charles Hamilton Houston Lecture (typically features a high-profile speaker with a social justice perspective), the James Nabrit Lecture (usually features a member of the judiciary), and the Wiley Branton Symposium (sponsored by the Howard Law Journal). Internationally and nationally renowned leaders, advocates, and scholars speak at these events on a range of timely and cutting-edge subjects.

Career Services

The Office of Career Services is an integral part of the law school. To assist students, the office offers workshops on job-search techniques and résumé writing, as well as seminars on career development and practice specialties. The office also maintains an extensive resource library with online employer research sites, directories, and updated online listings of career opportunities. Each year, the Office of Career Services sponsors two on-campus interview programs, and more than 200 recruiters from law firms, government agencies, and corporations interview promising students and graduates for a broad array of employment opportunities. Approximately 1,500 interviews are scheduled annually. Graduates receive highly competitive and prestigious judicial clerkships and work for large, medium, and small private firms; federal, state, and local government agencies; public interest organizations; and public and private corporations throughout the United States.

Degree Programs

The School of Law offers programs leading to the Juris Doctor (JD), Master of Laws (LLM) for foreign law graduates, and Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration (JD/MBA) degrees.

An applicant to the JD program must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university before enrolling in the Howard University School of Law. Competitive numerical predictors for admission to Howard University include a Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score of 152 and above and an undergraduate grade-point average (UGPA) of at least 3.2. In addition to the LSAT score and UGPA, we consider the rigor of an applicant’s undergraduate course of study, letters of recommendation (particularly from faculty members who have taught the applicant), any graduate study, employment, extracurricular activities, and other indicators of potential for success in law school and excellence in the profession.

Applicants to the JD/MBA program must apply and meet the independent admission requirements of both schools, including completion of the GMAT.

The LLM Program offers internationally educated law graduates an opportunity to further their legal studies through advanced study and research. To be admitted as a candidate for the LLM degree, applicants must be in high academic standing, have a degree in law from an accredited foreign university or its equivalent (as determined by the faculty of law), submit a valid TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score, and have some experience in either the judiciary or an administrative establishment, bar, or law faculty.

For more information, please visit Admissions.

Research Facilities

Howard University School of Law has a state-of-the-art, four-story, 76,000-square-foot law library. This facility provides space for a book collection of up to 215,000 volumes; seating for over 295 students (more than 70 percent of the student population), including 90 open carrels, with all locations wired for computer use; enlarged microfilm and audiovisual facilities; and distinctive rooms of wood and brick for special collections, newspaper and periodical reading, and the rare book collection.

The law library is both a working collection for law students and lawyers and a research institution for legal scholars. The civil rights archive contains briefs, working papers, and materials of the NAACP and other civil rights organizations. The library has a collection that emphasizes civil and political rights and literature to support study of the legal problems of the poor. Its collection has been expanded to also include considerable CD-ROM resources. The law library has an online catalog system, email capabilities, and Internet access.

Student Activities

The Howard Law Journal publishes scholarly articles for academic and professional interest. The national, international, and trial advocacy moot court teams, which sponsor the intramural competition and participate in competitions nationwide, have won numerous honors. The Human Rights and Globalization Law Review produces publications on human trafficking, women’s and children’s rights, and mass incarceration, among other topics. The Student Bar Association is the general student governing organization. The Barrister, the student newspaper, publishes several issues a year. Other organizations represent students from diverse ethnic backgrounds, including African Americans, Latinos, Africans, Caribbean Islanders, and Asian Pacific Islanders. A list of the student organizations with accompanying descriptions can be viewed at extracurricular activities.

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