University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law
In 1996, the DC School of Law merged with University of the District of Columbia to form the UDC School of Law, which is the only public law school in the District and has been ABA-approved since 1991. The school puts emphasis on recruiting underrepresented minorities, women, and older students. Unfortunately, in the class of 2011, fewer than one in five of those students found long-term, full-time employment as a lawyer. Don't let the feel-good sales pitch fool you; this is a school that may not give you a respectable chance of ever practicing law.
Employment prospects & bar passage
According to Law School Transparency, only 16.7% of the UDC class of 2011 found a full-time, long-term legal job (excluding solo practitioners). Of all the law schools that place significantly in D.C., this is by far the lowest employment score. (The next lowest is American University at 35.8%.) Of a total of 78 graduates in the class of 2011, none got full-time jobs in biglaw (firms with more than 100 attorneys) or got federal clerkships. Despite the school's stated emphasis on public interest, only seven graduates obtained public interest jobs. Six ended up in government. Of the students who managed to find employment, 21 work in Washington, D.C.; five work in Virginia; and four work in Maryland.
UDC does not report any salary information. If, in spite of the low employment numbers that we do know, you are even considering applying to UDC, call the admissions office at (202) 274-7341 and urge the school to release to the public detailed information about graduates' salaries and employment outcomes.
UDC claims that "[o]ver the most recent five-year period, over 85% of bar exam takers have passed one or more exams," but it offers no more specific statistics to back up the claim. Inquiries by TLS to several UDC administrators about bar passage statistics went unanswered.
Admissions & tuition
Students matriculating to UDC full-time in 2012 had a median LSAT score of 151 (25th percentile: 148; 75th percentile: 153) and a median GPA of 2.96 (25th: 2.66; 75th: 3.25). The law school accepted around 27% of its 1,178 applicants. Of those accepted, 71 students enrolled. The part-time medians were 151 and 2.99, with an acceptance rate of 28.9%.
In 2012, full-time tuition cost $11,265 for DC residents and $21,285 for nonresidents. Cost of living, books, and other expenses are estimated at an additional $26,200 per year. Law School Transparency estimates the total debt-financed cost of attendance to be $180,503 for nonresidents and $146,847 for residents. Given the extremely low employment rate for UDC graduates, it would be advisable for prospective students to consider carefully whether to take on that much debt for less than a 20% chance at a legal job.
The median grant UDC students received in 2012 was $4,425. Over 80% of students borrowed to finance their UDC education. UDC does not provide a loan repayment assistance program (LRAP).
Because of the small size of the average incoming class, UDC typically creates a single section composed of about 70-80 students. The school has 42 total teaching faculty members, a little under half of whom are full-time professors, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 12.9 to 1. All first-year students take the same schedule of requisite courses, including torts, civil procedure, criminal law, property, constitutional law, contracts, and legal writing. Students have said the workload is heavy and the grading curve is difficult. About 14% of first-year students do not return for their second year-a noticeably high attrition rate.
Quality of life
UDC is a commuter school, so there is no housing affiliated with the law school. Still, parking by the school is easy to find, and a Metro subway station is very close. Being in the nation's capital has its perks, as there are all kinds of restaurants, bars, museums, monuments, and landmarks nearby. The law school buildings are pristine, and the area is described as safe. The school's location in Washington also allows students to pursue school-year internships at government organizations and nonprofits.
Competition for legal jobs in Washington is fierce even at the nation's top schools. Unless you already have a guaranteed job after law school, it may be an unwise invesment to spend any amount of money on a UDC J.D.-let alone $150,000 or $180,000-as its employment numbers are atrocious and its bar passage statistics are unavailable.
The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law
4200 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008
U.S. News & World Report Ranking: Unranked
LSAT median: 151 (FT), 151 (PT)
GPA Median: 2.96 (FT), 2.99 (PT)
Application deadline: March 16
Application fee: $35
Entering class size (2012): 71 (FT), 54 (PT)
Yearly tuition (full time, 2012-2013): $11,265 (resident), $21,285 (nonresident)
Bar passage rate in Maryland, Virginia, or D.C.: Unknown
Percent of 2011 graduates employed nine months after graduation in long-term, full-time legal jobs: 16.7%
Median private sector salary: Unknown
Total estimated debt-financed cost of attendance: $180,503 (nonresidents), $146,847 (residents)