The Georgetown University Law Center (GULC) is located in one of the world's most vibrant legal and political communities and has vast resources to offer its students. Academic opportunities and extracurricular activities, including clinics and journals, are never in short supply, and the school's location near the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Capitol is something else students can take advantage of. GULC offers both a full- and a part-time J.D. program, the highest-ranked program to do so.
As of the class of 2012, Georgetown had a Law School Transparency employment score of 73.2% (essentially the percentage of graduates employed as entry-level lawyers) and a total debt-financed price tag of $263,473. In this age of rapidly increasing cost of law school and rapidly decreasing job prospects, 0Ls must do their due diligence when investigating law schools and do everything possible to maximize chances of employment and minimize debt.
- 1 Employment prospects
- 2 Admissions
- 3 Law school culture
- 4 Facilities
- 5 Extracurricular
- 6 Academics
- 7 Professors
- 8 Contact information
- 9 Quick reference
Georgetown's D.C. location can be a benefit and a burden when it comes to employment prospects. Washington-particularly for biglaw firms and so-called BigFed-is notorious as one of the most competitive legal job markets in the country, with a reputation of emphasizing school prestige and top grades above all else. Additionally, the legal hiring market is down across the board.
Still, for the class of 2012, more than 40% of GULC grads ended up staying in Washington, according to Law School Transparency. A further 18% went to New York, and about 6% went to California. Most 2012 grads took the bar exam in New York, Maryland, Virginia, or California:
|State||GULC takers||GULC pass rate||Overall state pass rate|
The most important number for judging a school's employment prospects is its Law School Transparency employment score, which indicates the percentage of graduates who by nine months after graduation had obtained full-time, long-term jobs requiring bar passage. GULC's score in 2012 was 73.2%. Its underemployment score was almost 13%.
Georgetown usually places relatively well in both traditional biglaw and in the public sector (government and public interest). On the National Law Journal's most recent annual ranking of the most prolific biglaw feeder schools, Georgetown placed 13th, with a total of 31.3% of 2012 grads headed straight to the nation's largest 250 law firms. About 39% of grads joined firms with more than 100 attorneys. A further 3.7% obtained federal judicial clerkships, which often lead to biglaw jobs or prestigious government work.
Almost 26% of the class of 2012 got long-term, full-time jobs in the government or in public interest (90 in government, 70 in public interest, out of a total class size of 626). Interestingly, 83 students from the class of 2012 reported being employed in law-school-funded jobs, 61 of which were in long-term, full-time positions.
Not much complete, up-to-date information regarding GULC grads' starting salaries is available. As of the class of 2011 (38% total reporting), the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile salaries for grads going into private law practice were all $160,000, the going rate for new biglaw associates in major markets. Given the bimodal distribution of starting salaries for lawyers, entry-level public-sector jobs tend to pay around $40,000 to $65,000.
Tuition and fees
Georgetown Law reports 2013 tuition and fees of $50,890 per year for full-time J.D. students and other approximate living expenses of $26,410 per year. Keep in mind that student loan debt is generally nondischargeable in bankruptcy.
Of course, some scholarships and grants are available, but only for a select few. In 2012, 32% of students received grants, and the median grant was a measly $17,500, or less than a quarter of the total cost per year. While the majority of aid from GULC is based on need and academic achievement, there is also a public interest scholarship (up to a third of annual tuition) for students who have demonstrated a strong commitment to a public interest field.
For those looking for merit scholarships, Andy Cornblatt, the dean of admissions, said the amount of aid given depends on more than one's LSAT and undergrad GPA:
We're looking for people who are well-rounded, that is to say, people who are involved either on-campus or in their community, or that have otherwise led interesting lives. Obviously in terms of merit scholarships LSAT scores and GPAs are an important characteristic, but as with the admissions process, we look at everything the applicant has supplied to us, and after looking at it once to determine who will be admitted, we look at it again to see how those people match up with other scholarship candidates.flak for brazenly gaming the federal loan forgiveness programs to encourage students to take on more debt at taxpayer expense and to maximize its own profits from the "warped economics" of law school tuition. The school's actions are not technically illegal, but they are a good representation of how skewed the law school and legal markets have become in recent years.
|Class of 2015||Full-time J.D.||Part-time J.D.|
|LSAT 25th - 50th - 75th percentile||165 - 169 - 170||163 - 167 - 170|
|UGPA||3.43 - 3.72 - 3.82||3.22 - 3.59 - 3.74|
|Applicants admitted (percentage)||2,203 (29%)||93 (5%)|
|Matriculations (yield)||519 (24%)||56 (60%)|
Beyond the numbers
In his interview with TLS, Dean Cornblatt emphasized that getting admitted at GULC depends on more than an applicant's LSAT and GPA. He said:
Most applicants think that this is strictly a numbers game, LSAT and GPA and that's the end of it. That's not so. The process is more interesting and complicated than that, and therefore how you present yourself, what your voice is in this, matters a lot.
Even if you believe that you are slightly deficient in terms of your numbers, a great personal statement, and a cohesive and well-thought-out application can increase your chances of acceptance. Likewise, even if you have great numbers, a sloppy application can put you in the reject pile. Dean Cornblatt emphasized this point:
I also don't like to see applications that are casually and sloppily put together. Those often come from some of our best applicants, who just throw something together and click submit without really giving it a lot of thought. If I feel like the application is being done in a sloppy way, without a lot of thought, that will hurt that applicant. We are looking for people who have thought this through, those who are applying in a focused, thoughtful way. If that is not the case it will definitely hurt their chances.
In other words, make sure to spell-check your application and your essays. Multiple typos make an application look sloppy and rushed. Also, don't accidentally include another school's name in your application. One surprisingly common error is when applicants forget to fully edit a personal statement or a "Why?" essay for different schools; telling Georgetown Law how much you'd love to attend Harvard isn't going to win you any love. However, somewhat surprisingly, Dean Cornblatt doesn't seem to think that this mistake necessarily dooms the applicant:
I think it'll happen, over the course of reading 12,000 files . . . maybe 50 times? Not a good way to go. Most of this is inadvertent, though; it's still sloppy, but if someone recaptures the initiative and sends in something to the effect of "my mistake, here's the correction," that's absolutely fine.
Finally, Dean Cornblatt had a number of interesting comments on applicants who have gone through severe hardship (alcoholism, drugs, depression, etc.). When asked whether those factors can help explain away a lower GPA, he said:
For applicants that fit that profile, we pay even more attention to their personal statement and letters of recommendation, just to get the best possible picture we can of what happened and where the applicant was then and where they are now. Once we feel that the applicant has left that behind and is in good shape to begin law school, we think that shows a real strength of character and we would view that in a positive way. However, it's on a case-by-case basis, so we have to look at each individual and what their particular circumstances were, and we weigh all of those circumstances together. We do feel that anything that requires real strength of character and determination is something that we'll look upon favorably.
In other words, there's no need to avoid these "taboo" topics if they proved to be a significant factor in your personal development. Instead, consider confronting them in an addendum and explaining how you've changed. It will help explain any deficiencies in your academic record, and it might just get the admissions committee to give your application a second look.
As with other top law schools, writing a compelling personal statement is an important part of gaining admission. A riveting essay can seal the deal if your numbers are borderline; similarly, a sloppy one can spell doom for your application. Dean Cornblatt said:
I've seen enough of this to know when a personal statement feels rushed. . . . I don't know, this is just one of those things where if you've read enough applications and have been doing this long enough, you know it when you see it. The lesson to be learned is: Work carefully on your application.
Dean Cornblatt also recommended that applicants keep their personal statements concise and to the point. He said:
I've done this so long now that . . . well, it's never, and I mean never, that someone does something to cause them to be automatically rejected. I think that the biggest error in judgment that an applicant might make is to talk too much in their personal statement. It is so much more effective for an applicant to be concise, say what they have to say, make their point, and then stop talking. It's not a good thing to go on forever, so I think in that respect that might hurt someone's chances.
It should be noted that there is no minimum or maximum length for personal statements submitted to GULC, though it's probably best to keep your essay to a reasonable length (around two to three pages).
Finally, making your essay Georgetown-centric can win you some points in the admissions game. Dean Cornblatt said:
I think that it is a plus; however, it is not a requirement, or we would ask for it. If it is included and feels genuine in such a way that it makes sense in the context of the rest of the personal statement, then the applicant connecting his or her interests with what we have to offer is a plus.
When to apply
For applicants who are truly dedicated to Georgetown and do not need financial aid, applying Early Decision can provide a boost. ED is binding, meaning that if you are accepted, you must attend Georgetown and withdraw applications from all other schools. Georgetown promises a decision within three weeks if an application is complete by Feb. 1. The "strongly recommended" deadline for ED and RD applications is March 1.
Given the recent decline in law school applications across the board, it is probably wise for 0Ls to avoid binding ED applications in order to maximize potential scholarship money.
Georgetown undergraduates (juniors only) can take advantage of the nonbinding Early Assurance program, designed to encourage top students from Georgetown undergrad to apply to the law school. This can be a great option for Georgetown juniors who are intent on studying law at GULC. Georgetown has the following to say about applying EA:
The Early Assurance Program is designed to give a student the freedom to pursue a less conventional curriculum during his or her senior year and is non-binding. . . . The Program is for Juniors currently enrolled at Georgetown University only. . . . Early Assurance applicants are exempt from taking the LSAT and registering with the CAS. Instead, applicants should include an official transcript with at least five semesters of undergraduate grades with their application. Early Assurance applicants must also submit two recommendations, one of which must be the Early Assurance Dean's Certification Form. Competitive Early Assurance applicants typically have an undergraduate GPA of at least a 3.8.
The admissions process at GULC is conducted on a rolling basis. Regardless of whether you apply through a formal ED program, it is smart to submit your polished application as soon as possible in order to maximize your chances for admission and a scholarship.
Letters of recommendation
GULC requires only one letter of recommendation but accepts as many as you want. The school prefers letters from professors because they can attest to your academic potential, but letters from employers are also accepted.
Canceled LSATs and other addendums
For a single canceled LSAT score, Dean Cornblatt said an addendum is not necessary. However, in some circumstances an addendum can help explain a dark spot in an applicant's file. For instance, in cases of academic probation, Dean Cornblatt said:
It is imperative that applicants who are in this situation send an addendum to the file with an explanation of what happened then and where they are now. We're going to notice all of that, so they need to talk about it.
One should also consider writing an addendum if one has an issue with one's UGPA, such as a downward trend. The school will take into account factors like family illness or work responsibilities when making its decisions, and an addendum can help mitigate the damage of a lower GPA.
As with most schools, transferring into Georgetown is a difficult task. According to the school's website, GULC received almost 600 applications in 2012. One hundred twenty-two students ended up transferring in, and 7 transferred out.
Law school culture
Situated in downtown Washington, D.C., Georgetown provides its students with a good quality of life. You don't need to travel far to find culture and recreation in the nation's capital. The Capitol, the Washington Monument, the White House, the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, the National Mall, and the Smithsonian museums are all within blocks of the law school. There are frequent outdoor concerts, movies, and other events hosted in the area, and some of the best fireworks in the world can be seen on July 4. The Mall is also home to the famous Cherry Blossom Festival and weekly ultimate Frisbee tournaments.
In addition to giving its students a great social life, GULC also offers an intellectually charged environment. At Georgetown, students study against the best legal backdrop in the United States. Dean Cornblatt explains further:
Well, there are [more advantages to studying in Washington, D.C.] than I have time to go into, but first of all, there's the possibility during your second and third year of law school to be out working in this incredible city where laws are made, interpreted, and implemented, within walking distance of Georgetown Law School. So we think that's a huge plus in terms of employment while you're here. The second plus is, even if you're not getting paid or not working, the opportunity to participate as an observer, or to participate in a million different ways, whether it's your job or not, to be exposed to all of the things that people in other parts of the country are reading about, but you can walk over to the Supreme Court and watch an argument, you can go over to Capitol Hill, you can be involved in all sorts of things that go on here.
In terms of housing, there are plenty of options available for students. Dean Carol Walsh of Residence Life went into detail:
Certainly the nearby apartment complexes such as Meridian, Mass Court, and so on are desirable simply because of their location. Popular neighborhoods are probably the next most desirable location, neighborhoods like Dupont Circle and the Capitol Hill area. The Chinatown area is becoming more popular, but it's also more expensive, so I think that's something each student weighs for themselves in terms of priorities. We used to have a problem with some of the newer, luxury apartment buildings not necessarily wanting to work with us because they didn't want students, but recently they've been sending information directly to our office. I think this is a product of them realizing that law students are not like your typical undergrads, and are actually quite desirable tenants.
Other neighborhoods that are becoming more trendy include the Southeast area near the Washington Nationals stadium, NoMa (North of Massachusetts Avenue), and the 14th Street corridor (NW). If you're looking for a bit more guidance, you can always contact Georgetown's off-campus housing director and ask for advice. Dean Walsh explained further:
We do have an off-campus housing coordinator who is available not only to current students, but also [to] incoming students looking for housing for their 1L year. This can be a great resource for asking about what different neighborhoods are like, what buildings around here are popular, lease questions, things like that. We also are going to try this year to become more involved in Facebook, as it seems like a lot of students have on their own found roommates through it, and we want to set up a group that will act as a location for people to meet and look for roommates who they think they'd be compatible with.
The student body
For the class of 2015, the student body is 54% male and 46% female. Students of color make up 28% of the class, and international students make up 3% of the class.
Despite being a top law school, Georgetown doesn't have an overly competitive environment. One student explained further:
It's a good group overall-some people with highly inflated senses of self-worth, but not too bad. Competition is minimal so far. Everybody is willing to share notes and help each other out. Study groups are quite common as well. I was actually discussing the lack of competition today with a few other classmates who had heard similar rumors about the alleged cutthroat nature of students here. None of us have experienced anything like that. There is only one "gunner" in my section, and he is universally mocked.
There are also plenty of different kinds of people at GULC, so chances are that all students will find a place to fit in. As one student remarked:
It's a pretty wide range of backgrounds here. I've met everyone from children of ambassadors to ex-farm boys. The stereotypical rich-kid law student is certainly present and accounted for, but I've not experienced any real snobbery beyond what can be expected from some 22-year-old hotshot law students who don't know any better. I come from pretty modest means, and I don't feel out of place.
Another student confirmed this viewpoint:
I mostly only see the students in my section. People seem friendly; I haven't had any unpleasant dealings with anybody at all. I don't feel like I lost out by attending a school with a large student body. [My] sections are broken down into even smaller sections for Contracts and Legal Research & Writing, so not all the classes have all 120 of us in there.
If you search around TLS, you'll find similar perspectives from many other students. Despite the fact that GULC boasts one of the largest student bodies of any top law school, it clearly takes steps to ensure that students have the opportunity to experience smaller class settings.
Georgetown's gym is a frequent recipient of praise. One student detailed the workout facility:
The fitness center on campus is great. There are plenty of cardio machines (treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, stairmasters), lots of free weights, lots of weight machines, and the few classes I've taken have been a really good workout (and free!). There's also an indoor pool and a basketball court, as well as jacuzzis in both the men's and women's locker rooms. There's also a towel service free of charge. I live on campus and it's extremely easy to fit a workout in whenever I have a chunk of free time since the fitness center is so close.
The rest of the school's facilities are modern and impressive as well. One applicant even described Georgetown's facilities as "overwhelming."
Like other top law schools, the choices are practically endless when it comes to extracurricular activities. Students can choose among dozens of different organizations and clubs to get involved with; a small sampling might include the Military Law Society, the Wine Tasters, and the GULC Softball Club.
Georgetown Law has 12 law journals. Topics of specialty journals include immigration law, poverty law, and legal ethics (among others), and the Georgetown Law Journal, the flagship journal, addresses topics of "general legal concern."
In 2009, the GULC administration changed the curve for classes with exams. The updated curve targets are: A: 10%, A-: 15%, B+: 25%, B: 30%, B-: 15%, C+ to F: 5%. This led to cries of grade inflation designed to artificially boost the GPAs of students in times of shrinking job opportunities for graduates. The Curriculum & Academic Standards Committee explained why the change was implemented:
The Curriculum & Academic Standards student-faculty committee recommended these changes to the faculty based in part on the curves from other schools and also based on faculty members' feelings about the rising level of student performance.
One of the most intriguing parts of Georgetown is its alternate first-year curriculum, Curriculum B. Developed in 1991, the curriculum offers what the school calls "an innovative and integrated approach to the study of law." According to the school, courses in the B section "emphasize the sources of law in history, philosophy, political theory, and economics." One TLS user clarified what sort of interdisciplinary study Curriculum B entails:
[T]he "emphasis on history and philosophy" that was explained to me was different than what I expected. Having done a lot of history and philosophy, proper, I expected stuff from those disciplines; not so, we're really talking about "legal history," or "legal philosophy," which are sort of blurry areas between the two espoused in articles written by lawyers who fancy themselves historians or philosophers, or wise old judges who sought to explain why lawyers do what they do.
There are four sections (three full time, one part time) of curriculum A and only one section of curriculum B at Georgetown, and the alternate curriculum is definitely not for everyone. Dean Cornblatt described the curriculum as "more of a liberal arts approach to the first year of law school," so if that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, applying to Curriculum B might not be in your best interest.
Joining the section (Section 3) that uses Curriculum B doesn't seem to be overly competitive, as "nearly every year it's what almost exactly one full section of our class is looking for." In terms of career options, Section 3 alumni do not seem to be at any distinct disadvantage, as one student said
I very much doubt B/3 will adversely impact your legal career. It may well give you a huge leg up. The school tracked alumni for 6 years and found they did at least as well as alumni from other sections (in terms of jobs, clerkships, etc.) Employers don't really care about your first year if you do very well in your second year classes. I'm not sure how B/3 correlates with job satisfaction, but I've a sneaking suspicion it would be pretty high. Anecdotal evidence: the editorial board of the Law Review here is predominantly Section 3 alumni. B/3s do well in mock trial, moot court, etc. It's not like you're "missing" something by going the B/3 route.
One TLS user added: "OCI interviewers have no bias one way or the other from what I've heard and experienced."
Finally, GULC offers 15 joint-degree programs. More information about admissions and financial aid for these joint degrees can be found on the joint degree FAQ page. Prospective joint-degree applicants should bear in mind that joint degrees often add a great amount of time and money to the already staggering cost of a J.D. and seldom help you get a traditional legal job. Have a detailed and well-thought-out plan before you apply for a joint degree.
Part time students
Georgetown is well known for its part-time J.D. program. The school is proud of its "long tradition of providing quality legal education to working students." Those students who need to work while in law school can rest assured that they will receive a first-rate education at GULC.
The differences between the full-time program and part-time program are minor. Part-time students can't take the alternate curriculum (Curriculum B/Section 3), and they take 24 hours of credit their first year and eight to 11 credits each semester after that. The whole program is designed to take eight semesters, but it's possible to complete the program faster if you're truly dedicated. In contrast, full-time students usually have 31 hours of credit their first year and 12 to 16 credits after that.
Of course, there are a few other minor setbacks that part time students have to deal with. One student in the FT program suggested that it might be difficult to find clinical work while working full-time, and socializing with your classmates might be slightly more difficult if you take mostly evening classes. In general, however, the part-time program offers the same education as the full-time program.
Those who wish to transfer from the part-time program to the full-time program can usually do so at will. One student describes the process:
All I did was send an email requesting a transfer. In theory, if too many people ask they will hold a lottery. In practice, that has never actually happened. About one-half of the class transfers. I thought I would try to work my way through law school and stay PT, but 1L year ran me into the ground. After seven months of getting five hours a night of sleep, I cracked and put in for the transfer. I haven't looked back. Considering the opportunity cost and the awful 2L recruiting this year, I am very glad I did it. It really doesn't cost the school anything to allow the transfer, because all they are really doing is allowing you to take enough credits to graduate earlier. You could still theoretically just take night classes. Those who stay PT could theoretically take only day classes after their first year.
Those applicants who would have difficulty getting into GULC's full-time program can apply for the part-time program and then transfer into the full-time program after a year. This plan might help students with slightly lower numbers complete most of a full-time GULC education.
Georgetown is known for its focus on public service. Dean Cornblatt has described GULC as the "largest public interest firm in the country":
We are, in many ways, the largest public interest law firm in the country, in that we have all of our students who are interested in taking part, representing people who can't afford representation otherwise. It's a very exciting part of the curriculum, and Georgetown is considered to be the best in the country in that area. That's something we're proud of, but what's important is just the substance of it and what it offers to our students.
Because of the school's location in Washington, students have unparalleled access to government externships and other opportunities. Georgetown even has its own career services office for public interest, the Office of Public Interest Community Services (OPICS), which Gihan Fernando (formerly of GULC career services, now of American University) explained in detail:
Georgetown has a separate Office of Public Interest Community Services, OPICS, which deals with the public sector broadly defined as government and nonprofit positions, and perhaps also positions in firms that focus on public interest work. This is something that not many other schools have, and it allows students to have a resource that's dedicated specifically to working with them towards finding public sector opportunities.
As mentioned earlier, there is also a public interest scholarship where GULC offers to pay up to one third of a student's annual tuition. While not as generous as some public interest scholarships at peer schools, the added financial cushion this scholarship provides is another reason those students seeking public interest careers may be drawn to the school. There are a plethora of public interest programs to get involved with at GULC, including the D.C. Family Literacy Project, the Women's Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program, and the National Center for Tenant Ownership.
Georgetown offers 25 clinical courses through 15 clinics each year. Clinics such as the Appellate Litigation Clinic, the Criminal Justice Clinic, and the Domestic Violence Clinic allow students to get hands-on experience in one of the most electrifying legal settings in the world.
Unfortunately, with such a large student body, it is sometimes challenging for students to get into clinics. One student wrote:
None of the clinics are easy to get into. Probably less than 20% of 2L applicants get into a clinic, and almost no one will ever get to take more than one clinic. … Basically, it seems like you only have a real shot at taking a clinic as a 3L, and then you only have a shot (though it's a pretty good one) at your top-choice clinic.
Another student's assessment was less dramatic:
Some clinics have a policy of only allowing 3Ls, either officially (Appellate Litigation) or unofficially (Institute for Public Representation, Federal Legislation), while others like Criminal and Juvenile Justice, Domestic Violence, and Law Students in Court all require Evidence as a prerequisite (which locks out rising 2Ls). The immigration clinic gets the most applicants and is hardest to get into statistically, but it does accept an even number of 2Ls and 3Ls. The Harrison Housing and Harrison Policy Clinics and International Women's Human Rights Clinic all accepted quite a few 2Ls this year. But you do need to carefully target the clinic you want, make it your first choice, and put together a strong application.
Finally, if you manage to get into a clinic as a 2L, then you "go to the back of the line if you apply for another as a 3L," as the school wants to give as many students as possible the opportunity to do clinical work.
Most students seem to enjoy their professors at GULC. One student wrote:
My professors are awesome. I'm in B/3 (the alt curriculum B) and I kind of feel like we get the best profs, but my friends in other sections also really like their professors. 1Ls all have dinner with a small section either at their professor's house or at a place of the professor's choosing sometime. This was 150% the right choice for me. LOVING it.
Another student wrote that all of his professors have been "friendly and approachable." Of course, as with any school, some students are going to find some professors more boring than others, but in general, students tend to think highly of their professors. The teachers also tend to have real-world experience, as former dean Fernando points out:
Georgetown students also have the benefit of having access to the amazing faculty here, which includes many people that have personal insight into the way government operates and the process by which it accomplishes things. Not only do we have many full-time professors with that type of experience, but we also have many of the best lawyers in the field working as adjunct professors here. These people are federal judges, agency lawyers and the like in their day jobs, but also come teach upper-level classes. They are able to inform the academic focus of the class with actual practice experience, and also can serve as valuable contacts for the students that take their courses.
Georgetown University Law Center
600 New Jersey Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001
2013 Above the Law ranking: 16
2014 U.S. News ranking: 14
LSAT scores at 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles: 165 - 169 - 170 (FT), 163 - 167 - 170 (PT)
GPA at 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles: 3.43 - 3.72 - 3.82 (FT), 3.22 - 3.59 - 3.74 (PT)
Application deadline: March 1
Application fee: $85
Law School Transparency employment score, class of 2012: 73.2%
LST total debt-financed cost of attendance: $263,473