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American University Washington College of Law’s Specialty Programs Recognized Among the Nation's Best by U.S. News

Five programs in the top 10 nationally


March 17, 2020

American University Washington College of Law is pleased to have six specialty programs highly ranked in the 2021 U.S. News and World Report rankings released March 17, 2020. We are ranked #2 for Clinical Legal Education, #4 for International Law, #4 for Trial Advocacy, #6 for our Part-time JD program, #10 for Intellectual Property, and #11 for Health Care Law.

“I realize we are facing an unprecedented time in our history, and I am proud of how our law school's faculty, staff, and administration have come together to prepare to transition our instruction and services online in service of our students and alumni,” said Dean Camille Nelson. “As we witness the strength and resilience of our community, I am pleased to share these specialty program rankings, which provide outstanding recognition of our top programs that are considerable strengths at Washington College of Law. We remain a law school with tremendous nationally and internationally renowned academic programs, which serve a wonderfully diverse student body that reflects our global connectedness and enriches the depth and quality of our educational experience.”

We invite you to learn more about our specialty programs below.


#2 Clinical Program

#2 Clinical Program

“The AUWCL Clinical Program, which has been nationally ranked for more than 25 years, provides a unique and transformative learning experience. Our program allows students to represent real clients on real cases, under the supervision of the clinic’s highly respected faculty. The clinics undertake representation of individual and organizational clients, both domestically and overseas, across a range of subject matter areas. Our program continues to grow and evolve, keeping up with the changing nature of law practice and responding to emergent legal needs.”
-Professor Jayesh Rathod, Associate Dean for Experiential Education; Director, Immigrant Justice Clinic

The AUWCL Clinical Program is made up of 11 in-house clinics, with 20+ faculty members that serve approximately 200 students each year. With clinics focused on Immigrant Justice, Disability Rights, International Human Rights, Community and Economic Development, and Intellectual Property, among others, the Clinical Program has jump-started countless legal careers in its 45-year history. LEARN MORE


#4 International Law

#4 International Law

“At a time when it is becoming increasingly clear that fundamental challenges facing humanity cannot be adequately addressed at a national level, AUWCL is drawing upon 40 years of leadership in international law to influence development of new disciplines in international and comparative law.  This year we created a new program on Technology, Law and Security to address global challenges as we continue to maintain our preeminence in international human rights and humanitarian law as well as international economic law. International, comparative, and transnational law continues to be an integral part of the AUWCL identity given our world-renowned faculty, diverse and rich curriculum, centers, and programs. We are delighted that the excellence of our programs continues to be reflected on a national level by the U.S. News specialty rankings."
-Professor Padideh Ala’i, Director, International and Comparative Legal Studies

International and comparative law has long been central to the educational mandate of American University Washington College of Law. AUWCL’s 26 full-time international law faculty continue to engage in innovative scholarship with over 50 publications annually, as well as impactful activities with key organizations such as the UN International Law Commission, the International Commission of Jurists, the American Law Institute, the American Society of International Law, the Society of International Economic Law, and the International Chamber of Commerce Court of International Arbitration, among others. The law school’s international offerings have grown to include 22 specialized programs, 22 semester exchanges, 6 dual degrees, and 65+ partnership agreements in 32 countries worldwide. With more than 4,000 international alumni, AUWCL provides countless connections for our students and graduates around the world. LEARN MORE


#4 Trial Advocacy


“The Trial Advocacy Program at American University Washington College of Law is proud to be ranked #4 among all law school trial advocacy programs.  AUWCL consistently produces top notch litigators and advocates. We offer over 20 different trial advocacy courses, and we have created the first and only national conference for law school advocacy team coaches. We recently hosted four national trial and appellate competitions at our school, including the prestigious Tournament of Champions competition.” 

As in past years, AUWCL students have performed exceptionally well in a broad range of national competitions, including:

  • ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition - regional champs
  • ABA Negotiation Competition - regional champions
  • Jessup Mid-Atlantic International Moot Court - champions
  • National Trial Competition - regional champions
  • New York Bar National Moot Court Competition - finalist
  • National Criminal Trial Advocacy competition - semi-finalists
  • DC Cup Moot Court - finalist
  • Environmental Law Moot Court Competition – finalist
  • NBLSA Nelson Mandela International Negotiations Competition – champion; and a AUWCL was name student was named “Best Negotiator” in the competition

-Cynthia Jones, Director, Stephen S. Weinstein Trial Advocacy Program

Through the Trial Advocacy Program, AUWCL students benefit from over 24 Trial Advocacy courses ranging from basic Civil and Criminal Trial Advocacy to advanced advocacy courses such as Litigating in a High Tech Courtroom, Scientific Evidence and Expert Testimony, Special Witnesses, and Victims’ Rights, to name a few. For advanced students, the opportunity to compete on any of our championship Mock Trial, Moot Court, Dispute Resolution or Transactional Law competition teams is unparalleled. More than 400 students each year take part in approximately 40 small class sections of AUWCL’s trial advocacy courses. LEARN MORE


#6 Part-time JD Program

#6 Part-Time JD Program

“The AUWCL part-time JD program strives to provide our students with the same courses, services, activities, and experiences as their full-time counterparts. We take care to offer sections of desired courses – in particular clinical and experiential courses – in the evenings to provide part-time students with the necessary opportunities to develop their skills in a learning-by-doing format. In addition, we have had a positive response to providing part-time students with weekend courses, intensive short courses, online options in order to answer the demands of their hectic schedules. Our continued, intentional efforts and improvements, are once again reflected in a Top 10 U.S. News ranking.”
-Professor Elizabeth Boals, Assistant Dean for Part-Time and Online Education 

The four-year part-time JD program gives students the intellectual foundations for legal study and the opportunity to focus their studies on areas of particular interest through advanced classes, clinics, and writing projects. Our professors represent the entire spectrum of the profession, public as well as private, bringing contemporary national issues into the classroom. LEARN MORE


#10 Intellectual Property

#10 Intellectual Property

“The Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property’s consistent strength in the national rankings reflects our deep commitment to meaningful research and scholarship and to helping students succeed in their study and practice of intellectual property, communications, technology, and privacy law. We bring lawyers working on cutting-edge issues to the law school through national and international events, and we send our students out into the world through externships, summer programs, competitions, and other opportunities. There really is no other place to get trained and to get connected in these fields like American University Washington College of Law.”
-Professor Michael Carroll, Director, Program on Information Justice and Information Property

The AUWCL Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) has continued to expand over the last decade. With more than 40 courses offered in a wide range of intellectual property topics, AUWCL offers an unparalleled course of study. AUWCL’s Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic was the first of its kind in the country, and our strong network of highly accomplished alumni help us provide unparalleled experiential opportunities through externships and employment. PIJIP takes advantage of AUWCL’s Washington location to convene national and international meetings that cover the wide range of emerging and important issues in our field. LEARN MORE


#11 Health Care Law


“We’re honored to be recognized as one of the top health law programs in the nation. Our faculty and alumni work together to ensure our students graduate practice ready and connected to a myriad of opportunities. Our students explore a broad range of specialized course offerings and externships. Our Health Care Compliance Certificate Program for JD, LL.M., and MLS students is accredited by the Compliance Certification Board and guides students through a concentration of courses in health care law and corporate compliance. In the last year, our nationally-recognized conferences drew more than 300 leading experts in health care law, food and drug law, and health policy to our campus.”
-Professor Lindsay F. Wiley, Director, Health Law and Policy Program; President of the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics

The Health Law and Policy Program’s conferences and networking events connect leading experts from across the country with movers and shakers in the nation’s capital. In Fall of 2019, in partnership with the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics and our cosponsor, American University School of Public Affairs, the program hosted Next Steps in Health Reform, a biennial conference that brings together national leaders in health care law, policy, economics, and administration. The program also boasts a robust Health Law and Policy Summer Institute, where nationally recognized practitioners lead intensive, practice-focused courses on subjects like Digital Health, the False Claims Act and Drug Pricing, along with a lunch and learn series. Our national annual health law student writing competition is in its fifth year with participation from students representing over 60 law schools.


criminal law program RANKED BY U.S. NEWS FOR FIRST TIME

AUWCL's Criminal Justice Program was ranked for the first time in the Criminal Law category at #26. With over 30 criminal law and related classes taught by 13 full-time criminal law faculty, there are many opportunities to be found, including the criminal justice clinic, related immigration clinic and domestic violence clinics, four journals/law reviews, two student organizations, and numerous externship and internship opportunities. In collaboration with the criminal law faculty, the Criminal Justice Practice and Policy Institute connects alumni working in criminal law with interested students to provide the legal and practical skills training needed to be successful. LEARN MORE


In addition, our relaunched Program on Environmental and Energy Law led by Professor Amanda Leiter, previously the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law, was ranked in the Environmental Law category at #37. The program includes a curriculum of more than 25 environmental and energy law-related courses, 4 student-run environmental, energy, and animal law organizations and more than 25 high profile adjunct professors who practice in the field, along with numerous classroom and field opportunities to learn from professors and practitioners engaged with pressing domestic and international issues. LEARN MORE


In 1896, American University Washington College of Law became the first law school in the country founded by women. More than 120 years since its founding, this law school community is grounded in the values of equality, diversity, and intellectual rigor. The law school's nationally and internationally recognized programs (in clinical legal education, trial advocacy, international law, intellectual property, and health law and policy to name a few) and dedicated faculty provide its JD, LL.M., and SJD students with the critical skills and values to have an immediate impact as students and as graduates, in Washington, DC and around the world. For more information, visit