American University Washington College of Law (WCL) is committed to preparing students for careers in an increasingly globalized legal profession. Our mission is to provide students a rigorous and dynamic educational experience, create and nurture habits of scholarly inquiry, critical thinking and practical judgment, and foster positive change in our local, national, and world communities. We embrace those traditional foundations of legal education that contribute to preparing students for all aspects of legal practice, understanding law as a central element in social and political ordering, and producing vital and influential legal scholarship. We seek to preserve the very best of legal education while working creatively to expand its boundaries and envisioning new approaches, structures and practices.
WCL provides a superb legal education through an array of experiential programs in addition to classroom instruction. WCL’s nationally-acclaimed Clinical Program is an integrated law firm composed of ten live-client clinics serving low-income and under-served D.C. area residents. About 230 students each year participate in our Clinical Program in which students take primary responsibility for all aspects of their cases. WCL has a unitary tenure track and clinical faculty are fully integrated into the life and governance of the law school. The WCL clinical faculty includes eleven tenured or tenure-track professors, two long-term contract Professors of Practice and nine Practitioners-in-Residence, seven of whom are in a program to train and develop new clinical teachers – all teach in both the clinical and non-clinical curriculum. Additionally, WCL’s Supervised Externship Program served 400 students last year, placing students in government agencies, not-for-profit organizations, trial and appellate courts, and law firms doing pro bono work. Other experiential learning opportunities include the Stephen S. Weinstein Trial Advocacy Program and an LL.M. in Advocacy, the UNROW Human Rights Litigation Clinical Seminar, and the United Nations Committee Against Torture Project. Additionally, courses such as Lawyer Bargaining, Plea Bargaining and Interviewing and Counseling routinely rely on pedagogy based on detailed simulation exercises and are often taught by clinical faculty.
Other innovations at WCL prepare students for and complement experientially-based offerings. They include the restructuring of the first-year curriculum to promote the holistic presentation of legal doctrine; the development of first-year elective courses that expose students to subject matter that goes beyond the first-year curriculum, theoretical analysis and pedagogical approaches that rarely characterize traditional first-year offerings; the presentation of collaborative faculty-generated programmatic activities designed to show how concepts developed in the classroom take on meaning in the world; and the creation of structures for giving students opportunities to experience the broader legal world beyond the United States.