|Rankings and Top 100 Profiles 3rd and 4th Tier Profiles Dean Interviews Discuss Your School TLS Stats TLS Programs International Profiles Law School Articles|
Howard University Law School
Published January 2010, last updated July 2010
Howard's law school offers an awesome array of professional opportunities for its graduates, considering its poor ranking by USNews and World Report.
Admissions and Tuition:
Although Howard offers a wide array of career options to many of its graduates, gaining admission to the school does not require numbers far greater than those required by its third-tier peers. Their median LSAT score and GPA for matriculants in 2009 was 153/3.20. While these numbers do tend to fluctuate a bit from year to year, applicants with numbers at or above this level should feel competitive about their chances for admission, especially if their soft factors (resume, personal statement, letters of recommendation, etc.) are top-notch. While the numbers required to gain admission to Howard aren't staggering, admissions is still competitive. Most recently, of 2070 applicants, only 497 were accepted. This implies that, while GPA and LSAT are always of paramount consideration in law school admissions, the other factors in an applicants file weigh heavily on the minds of the Howard admissions committee. While Howard is a historically black university, applicants who are not African American will not be discriminated against in the admissions process, according to the school's Policy and Procedure on Equal Opportunity in Employment and Education Programs and Activities.
Once admission is gained, there comes that unique joy of all law students: Paying for tuition. Tuition at Howard is a relatively low $24,490/year, regardless of state of residency. According to Howard Law's website, one can expect that the total cost of attending Howard, including tuition, books, and cost-of-living expenses, will be roughly $44,200 a year. While a three-year law school bill for a school outside the top-100 might seem daunting, one should weigh carefully the career options afforded by a degree from Howard (which exceed those of many of its peers), the median starting salary of graduates (which is on par with a top-25 law school), and the fact that Howard offers a number of merit-based scholarships, ranging from $5,000 a year to more than full tuition, depending on the applicant's resume and numbers.
Academic Life and Curriculum:
The curricular requirements at Howard are very much similar to those at any ABA-accredited law school (right down to the standard 1L milieu). Grading is done on a standard A-F system, and students are expected to maintain a C average or better. There are a number of options beyond the standard curriculum for Howard students to get involved with their legal education. One key program is the Institute of Intellectual Property and Social Justice, a center whose intent is to "use intellectual property law to advance social justice in the United States and the global community," making Howard a good choice for those with a strong interest in both IP and public interest law.
Howard features several student publications including the flagship Howard Law Review and The Howard Scroll (The Social Justice Law Review), as well as a moot court team, and a number of clinics including a Criminal Justice Clinic and an Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic. Additionally, there are several student organizations, including one for Asian-Pacific students and another for Hispanic students, underscoring the fact that while Howard is a historically black university, being African American is by no means a requirement for receiving a quality legal education there.
Quality of Life:
What can be said for the quality of life when one studies law in Washington, DC? Being in the capital means being in close proximity to innumerable exciting internship/externship opportunities, not to mention three perennially mediocre professional sports teams (the Wizards--nee bullets--in the NBA, the Redskins in the NFL, and the Nationals of the MLB). DC is a major world city, and one is challenged to find an interest or passion that cannot be fruitfully pursued within the District. Having a car in DC can sometimes be a pricey hassle, but the good news there is that mass transit tends to be both thorough and reliable. Additionally, some areas of DC are notoriously unsafe, and caution must be used going from place to place alone at night or in unfamiliar areas. Other than crime (which is reported to be improving in recent years), the primary issue with DC is the very high cost of living. Applicants must balance this against the pros of a Howard education when assessing the prospect of spending three years in DC.
Employment and Bar Passage:
Bar passage statistics do not paint a fabulous picture of Howard University Law School. Since 2001, the state in which most graduates have opted to take the bar has alternated between New York and Maryland (mainly New York). In those states, during that stretch of time, Howard grads averaged a first-time bar passage rate of only 64.5%, a full 10.3% behind the statewide averages for those respective states. Most recently, the bar passage rate was 59% (in New York), 27% below the state average. There is really no favorable way to frame these statistics: Howard's graduates struggle with the bar exam, year after year.
Despite difficulties with the bar, however, Howard grads do somewhat well in the job market. Most recently, an impressive 72% were placed in jobs at graduation and the figure upped to 85% within 9 months. And the news gets even better: The most recently reported median full-time starting salary for a Howard graduate working in the private sector was $160,000, a staggering figure for a school outside the top-100. In fact, Howard's salary statistics would seem to place it on par with schools in the vaunted Top-14. This is because the array of "biglaw" jobs open to Howard graduates is very impressive. A whopping 551 law firms do on campus interviews (a primary means for law students to secure employment) at Howard, including 68 firms from New York, 66 from California, and 88 from DC. This points to the national reach of a Howard degree, and it bears mentioning that these are not minor firms. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz, traditionally considered the creme de la creme of New York biglaw firms due to their generous starting salary and bonuses, does on campus interviewing at Howard, and they are known mainly for recruiting almost exclusively from the top-6 law schools.
Considered the star of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Howard offers a law school that, while not highly ranked, places graduates in some of the most elite firms in the country from coast to coast. For African-American and other underrepresented minority students, Howard afford opportunities not dissimilar to those of a top tier school. However, non-URM applicants should not necessarily assume that those opportunities will extend to them as well.
In sum, Howard University Law School can be an attractive option to someone looking for a legal education that provides strong job prospects in a dynamic city environment.
Median LSAT: 153
Mercer University Law School
Stetson University School of Law
Chapman University School of Law
Cleveland State University, Marshall College of Law
Creighton University School of Law
UNH School of Law
Quinnipiac University School of Law
The University of St. Thomas School of Law
University of Wyoming, College of Law
William Mitchell College of Law
Florida International University College of Law
Florida Coastal School of Law
CUNY School of Law
Campbell University School of Law
Barry University School of Law
Oklahoma City University School of Law
Regent University School of Law
South Texas College of Law
Touro College – Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center
Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law
University of the District of Columbia - David A. Clarke School of Law
University of Detroit Mercy School of Law
University of North Dakota School of Law
Mississippi College School of Law
John Marshall Law School (Chicago)
Albany Law School
Appalachian School of Law
Ave Maria School of Law
Southern University Law Center
Southwestern Law School
St. Mary's University School of Law
St. Thomas University School of Law
Texas Wesleyan University School of Law
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Howard University Law School
Texas Tech Law School
New York Law School
The University of Missouri – Kansas City
Northern Kentucky University – Salmon P. Chase College of Law
California Western School of Law
Pace University School of Law
University of Memphis – Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
University of Montana School of Law
North Carolina Central University
University of South Dakota School of Law
Thomas Cooley School of Law
New England Law | Boston
Drake University School of Law
University of Akron School of Law
Vermont Law School
University of Mississippi School of Law
Loyola University New Orleans College of Law
University of Toledo (OH)
Wayne State University Law School
University of Idaho College of Law
Gonzaga Law School
The University of Maine School of Law
Golden Gate Law School
Pacific McGeorge School of Law
University of San Francisco School of Law
St. Louis University School of Law
Seattle University School of Law
DePaul University College of Law
Hofstra Law School