Columbus School of Law

The Columbus School of Law, also known as CUA Law, is the law school of The Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C.

The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law
MottoDeus Lux Mea Est - God Is My Light
Parent schoolCatholic University of America
School typePrivate
DeanDaniel F. Attridge
LocationWashington, D.C., US
USNWR ranking108th (2020)[3]

More than 450 Juris Doctor students attend CUA Law. Incoming classes are typically composed of about 150 students, including day and evening programs.[2] Around 1,900 students apply annually.[2]

According to CUA Law's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 49% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, employment requiring bar passage nine months after graduation.[4]


Catholic University of America began offering instruction in law in 1895 as part of its decision to open "faculties for the laity."[1] The department was turned into an official school in 1898.[1]

Catholic University's law school has established a progressive history of inclusion. Its first African-American student was enrolled in 1902; its first female student in 1922.

In 1919, the Knights of Columbus founded an educational program known as Columbus University which provided an evening education program for Catholic war veterans returning from World War I. This institution was closely affiliated with Catholic University and shared faculty at both institutions' Washington, D.C. locations.

In 1954 Columbus University (now consisting only of an evening law school) merged with Catholic University's law school to form the Columbus School of Law. The law school has been accredited by the Association of American Law Schools since 1921[5] and the American Bar Association since 1925.[6]



Catholic University's J.D. program can be completed over three years of full-time day study or four years of part-time evening study.

The first-year curriculum is prescribed for all students. The day-division curriculum consists of seven required courses totaling 29 credit hours.[7] Evening-division students are required to complete the same basic courses within the first two years of their law school career. Revised for 2013, the new curriculum is designed to strengthen first-year doctrinal courses, to support the development of practice-area concentrations, and to emphasize training that will help graduates transition to the real world of practice.

The upper-division curriculum comprises several requirements, courses that are strongly recommended, and elective options. CUA Law students must complete a minimum of 84 credits to earn the J.D. degree. Required upper division courses include Constitutional Law II, Professional Responsibility, Professional Skills, and Upper-Level Writing.[7] The law school is developing a Transition-to-Practice requirement for students. This new requirement is expected to be fulfilled by taking either a clinical course, or a capstone course. Foundational courses for all areas of legal practice—and thus strongly recommended for all Upper Division students— include Evidence, Corporations, and Criminal Procedure.

To respond to increasing demand for specialized legal services, the Law School has developed practice-area concentrations for upper division students in Civil Litigation, Criminal Litigation, Family Law, Intellectual Property, Labor and Employment Law and Securities Regulation.[8]

Degrees offered

In addition to the J.D. program, the school offers LL.M. programs in Law & Technology, Securities Law, and Comparative and International Law.[9]

The school also offers an LL.M. program in American law with the Faculty of Law and Administration of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland.[10] It allows Jagiellonian law students and students enrolled in the CUA-JU LL.M. program to study the essential substantive and procedural elements of the legal system of the United States.

The school offers a M.L.S. degree program, which enhances the ability of professionals to work with lawyers and legal issues, to gain a deeper knowledge of a particular legal field, and to understand laws and regulations. Students can choose to concentrate in the fields of Compliance and Corporate Responsibility, Employment and Human Resources, or Intellectual Property. Alternatively, students may choose a General U.S. Law option, which provides a broad overview of the law and legal practice.


CUA Law had 42 full-time faculty members as of 2013.[2] The school's student-faculty ratio was 10.27 to 1.

Institutes and programs

CUA Law offers five opportunities for specialized legal study; four of them are certificate-granting.[8] The programs are designed to give students the opportunity to pursue a specified concentration of courses. Each institute accepts approximately 15 students each academic year. They are:

  • Law and Technology Institute
  • Comparative and International Law Institute
  • Law and Public Policy Program
  • Securities and Corporate Law Program
  • Interdisciplinary Program in Law and Religion

Experiential learning

Founded in 1969, Columbus Community Legal Services offers four legal clinics that offer students hands-on learning. The Columbus Community Legal Services clinics include the General Practice Clinic; the Families and the Law Clinic; Advocacy for the Elderly, and the Consumer Protection Clinic.[11] In addition, the school offers the Criminal Prosecution Clinic, the Immigration Litigation Clinic, the Innocence Project Clinic and Clemency Project, the Virginia Criminal Defense Clinic, and an SEC Student Observer Program. [12]

The Columbus School of Law has an extensive legal externship program through which about 200 upperclass students per year earn course credits during the fall, spring, and summer by working in nonprofit organizations; federal, state, and local government agencies; Congress; and for judges, law firms, trade associations and corporations in the D.C. area.[13]


The Columbus School of Law has two student-edited law journals:[14]

Student life

CUA Law enrolled a total of 519 students for the 2013-2014, 65.9% of whom were full-time students.[2] The school's incoming class included 161 students.[2]

CUA Law had the third largest drop in enrollment between the 2010-2011 academic year and the 2013-2014 academic year with enrollment falling 39.5%.[15]

There are more than 30 active student organizations on campus.[16]

The school has a moot court program, with teams practicing in international law, communications law, labor law, constitutional law, securities law, national security, and a trials competition.[17] The moot court team holds an annual inter-school competition between 1Ls called SoapBox.[18]


Completed in 1994, the law building contains the Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library, the Walter A. Slowinski and Haislip and Yewell Courtrooms, and the three-story Keelty Atrium. It features a cafeteria, student lockers, an underground attached parking garage, and an ATM. The Columbus School of Law is located on the campus of the Catholic University of America and law students have access to many of the same services and facilities as undergraduate students.

The school is a five-minute walk from the Brookland-CUA metro station.


CUA Law had a 55.4% acceptance rate in 2013 with the school receiving 1,869 applications.[2] The school's matriculation rate was 15.6%, with 161 of the 1,035 admits enrolling.[2]

The median LSAT and GPA was 154 and 3.21 for students entering in Fall 2013.[19]

Employment outcomes

According to CUA Law's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 49% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, employment requiring bar passage nine months after graduation.[4] None of those jobs were school-funded positions.[4]

CUA Law ranked 150th out of the 201 ABA-approved law schools in terms of the percentage of 2013 graduates with non-school-funded, full-time, long-term, bar passage required jobs nine months after graduation.[20]

CUA Law's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 26.1%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.[19]

The majority of CUA Law 2013 graduates were employed in Washington, D.C., Maryland or Virginia nine months after graduation.[4]

Costs and student debt

The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, living expenses and health insurance) at CUA Law for the 2013-2014 academic year is $70,212.[21] The average annual increase in tuition and fees at CUA Law for the past five years has been 4.02%.[22]

The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $269,220.[23] According to U.S. News & World Report, the average indebtedness of 2013 graduates who incurred law school debt was $144,801 (not including undergraduate debt), and 86% of 2013 graduates took on debt.[24]


In the 2014 "Best Graduate Schools" edition of U.S. News & World Report, the Columbus School of Law was ranked 107th,[25] down from 80th in the previous year's rankings.[26]

Notable alumni


Federal government

Federal judiciary

State government



  • Alexandra Dunn, Executive Director and General Counsel of the Environmental Counsel of States


  1. "Columbus School of Law: History". Columbus School of Law. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  2. "The Catholic University of America 2013 Standard 509 Information Report" (PDF). Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  3. "Catholic University of America". Best Law Schools – U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  4. "Employment Summary for 2013 Graduates" (PDF). Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  5. "AALS Member and Fee-Paid Schools". AALS. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  6. "Alphabetical School List". ABA. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  7. "Course Requirements, First-Year Courses". Columbus School of Law. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  8. "Certificate Programs and Concentrations". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  9. "LL.M. Program". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  10. "LL.M. Program offered by CUA in cooperation with Jagiellonian University". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  11. "Columbus Community Legal Services". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  12. "Clinics and Practical Training". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  13. "Legal Externships". Columbus School of Law. Archived from the original on 5 February 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  14. "Journals". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  15. "Cooley, NYLS have largest enrollment declines since 2010-2011". National Jurist. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  16. "CUA Law Student Organizations". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  17. "Moot Court". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  18. "SoapBox". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  19. "Catholic University of America Profile". Law School Transparency. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  20. Leichter, Matt. "Class of 2013 Employment Report". The Law School Tuition Bubble. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  21. "Cost of Attendance". Columbus School of Law. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  22. "Catholic University of America Profile". Law School Transparency. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  23. "Catholic University of America Profile, Cost". Law School Transparency. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  24. "Law School Debt Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  25. Retrieved 16 March 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  26. "Top 2014 Law School Rankings". Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  27. "CUA Law Notable Alumni". Columbus School of Law. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  28. Flint, Peter. "John Harold Fanning Dies at 73; A Chief of Labor Relations Board". New York Times. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  29. "Biographical Profile for Martin Connor". Vote NY. Retrieved 13 July 2014.

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