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News ::
Activist Law School in DC Seeks Students
02 Apr 2002
An alternative, diverse, public-interest and clinically-oriented Washington, DC law school - the University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law - is in its final push for full ABA accreditation and asks progressives to spread the word that it has raised significant scholarship funding for activist/scholars.
Activist Law School in DC Seeks Students

An alternative, diverse, public-interest and clinically-oriented Washington, DC law school - the University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law - is in its final push for full ABA accreditation and asks progressives to spread the word that it has raised significant scholarship funding for activist/scholars.

Located in the heart of Washington, DC, the School of Law has survived a barrage of more than a dozen negative editorials by the so-called liberal Washington Post newspaper, repeated attacks by conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats on Capitol Hill, and has lived to tell the tale. Protected on numerous occasions by local ministers and citizen activists as well as the likes of Ralph Nader, the late Mitch Snyder and more progressive members of Congress including John Conyers, the late Julian Dixon, Tom Harkin and Ted Kennedy, its survival has been an “Incredible Journey” from its roots as the Antioch School of Law (1972-88) on the strength of a vigorous grassroots campaign to create the District of Columbia School of Law (1987-95) which was forced to merge, by the maelstrom of DC’s mid-nineties financial crisis, with the University of the District of Columbia in 1996. Thus legally incarnated for a third time UDC-DCSL achieved its provisional accreditation before the graduation of its first class and is now poised to achieve full accreditation.

Originally founded in 1972 by the legendary firebrand interracial married co-deans, Edgar S. and Jean Camper Cahn, thirty years later their dream is on the verge of coming true: now in it’s final push for full American Bar Association accreditation UDC-DCSL has raised several hundred thousand dollars in scholarship funding to support academically talented activists who seek to add a legal education to their bag of tricks. UDC-DCSL, following in the Antioch School of Law tradition, is arguably the nation’s most diverse law school - with an average age of 34, approximately 50% of students being people of color, and about 10% foreign born. UDC-DCSL also boasts the highest percentage of women deans in America (%100) and highest percentage of women law students (66%.) Just under sixty percent of professors are women and the majority of the faculty are from non-majority population groups.

Long eschewing so called “traditional” indicators of likely law school success, the School of Law, throughout all incarnations, has prided itself on looking at the “whole person.” Now, under pressure by the ABA, the School of Law has been able to substantially raise it’s average LSAT and GPA applicant scores without barring the door to lower scorers by appealing directly to academically talented but progressive-minded potential law students. An increasing number of such students, who might be able to gain admission to prestigious law schools, but who choose DC’s public law school - for its diversity, its commitment to public service, and its invitation to students to “co-develop” the program - are additionally attracted to the beefed up scholarship funding which financially empowers students to choose legal career paths in the public interest through the elimination of the typical massive law school debt load.

Perhaps most importantly from an activist standpoint, UDC-DCSL is the only nationally accredited law school that requires all students to perform a significant amount of clinical legal service to the poor and the public interest. At UDC-DCSL each student provides more than 700 hours of legal service to low-income Washingtonians in a variety of in-house law clinics. Offerings include Juvenile Justice, Housing and Consumer Law, HIV/AIDS Law, Prisoners' Rights, Community Development Law and Small Business Law. An Immigration Law Center has recently opened after being organized by alumni, students, faculty, staff and community activists.

The School of Law is being increasingly noticed and appreciated by the nation's progressive legal community. Several years ago, founding Antioch Law Dean and UDC-DCSL Professor Edgar Cahn received the American Association of Law School's top prize for clinical legal education, the Pincus Award. Two years ago the same prize was awarded for now-dean Shelley Broderick for her lifetime work -- making UDC-DCSL and Yale Law the only schools in the country to have two such recipients. So it's no accident that famed Klan-busting attorney Morris Dees, equally renowned death penalty foe Stephen Bright, and former US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Ida Castro "dropped in" for luncheon speeches last year. Anti-Apartheid Movement hero Randall Robinson has spoken at UDC-DCSL, as has the late Charles F. C. Ruff, Bill Clinton's impeachment counsel, La Raza Director Raul Yzaguirre, and Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Director Barbara Arnwine. And on April 9th, 2001 perhaps the nation's top-ranking feminist judicial officer, US Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivered the 9th Annual Rauh Lecture: and her internationally reported support of a death penalty moratorium. Since then the School of Law has hosted presentations by Alliance for Justice's Nan Aron, ABA Immigration Project Director Carol Wolchok (an alumna!), International Law expert Gay MacDugal, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Roger Wilkins, among others.

The School of Law asks friends of progressive causes to spread the word about its unique, mandatory public service program and to send potential students to the School’s websites: http://activist.law.udc.edu and www.law.udc.edu .
See also:
http://activist.law.udc.edu
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