A letter from Dean Daniel F. Attridge:
Dear CUA Law Students,
We are now halfway through our schedule of classes in our 14-week spring semester, although the recent snow and ice on campus make it seem as if spring is still a long way off. Despite the cold temperatures and accompanying precipitation, you, our students, as well as our faculty, staff, and alumni, have been engaged in a whirlwind of activities during the past month. This is a brief report on what’s been happening and what’s coming up:
1. New Master of Legal Studies Program. We have launched our new Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) degree program, with applications now being accepted for enrollment in the summer of 2014. Somewhat unexpectedly, our first application came from halfway around the world, from a prospective student in China who saw our announcement. The 15-month, 26-credit program aims to meet the demand for professionals who want to develop specialized knowledge and enhanced understanding of the critical role the law plays across various industries and disciplines. M.L.S. students will complete the program on a part-time schedule over two summers, one fall, and one spring semester. Initially the degree program will offer an area of emphasis in intellectual property law. The program is expected to expand into other areas in the future. If you know someone who may be interested, please click here for more information.
2. Enrollment. Some of you may have read one of the stories recently recycled by the media about law schools' experiencing a decrease in enrollment that began in 2010. CUA Law has been cast in a negative light in these stories as one of the schools with the largest declines in the size of our full-time J.D. program. These stories, however, overlook several important facts. First, while over two-thirds of all ABA accredited law schools experienced a decline in their first-year classes in the fall of 2013, our Law School is one of only 13% of all ABA law schools where the size of the incoming first-year class this past fall increased by 10% or more over the previous year. Second, what's most important about our program -- both full-time and part-time -- is not our size, but our quality: we are adamant about continuing our commitment to attracting high-caliber students and offering them a first-rate education. Third, our academic and co-curricular offerings are richer and more diverse than ever. We continue to offer a variety of outstanding opportunities to students in our excellent courses, clinics, and externships enriched by doctrinal teaching and practical training; in our four certificate programs in communications, comparative and international law, law and public policy, and securities law; in our new specialized concentrations in civil litigation, criminal litigation, family law, intellectual property law, and labor and employment; and through recent initiatives such as the CUA/Ehrlich Partnership on Clemency, our criminal defense clinic in partnership with the Arlington County Public Defender, our immigration litigation clinic in partnership with Catholic Charities, and our relationship with the Newseum's First Amendment Center.
3. Legal Services by CUA Law Students. Our Law School has a long and distinguished tradition of facilitating opportunities for our law students to render legal services. During the past year, 137 students provided client and community services through our Columbus Community Legal Services clinics. The students logged over 31,000 hours in assisting over 360 individuals at no charge. Another 192 students performed over 32,000 hours of legal work in many different public interest and private sector contexts through our externship and external clinical programs. Nineteen students logged 2,300 hours representing indigent individuals through our Innocence Project Clinic and Clemency Project. And 111 students engaged in legal work for which they received no academic credit or compensation, logging nearly 11,000 hours, through our pro bono program. All together in these programs, over 400 students worked over 75,000 hours rendering legal services.
4. The Dean’s List. Last year, we began a Dean’s List to honor CUA Law students who place in the top one-third of their division or class based on grade point average. First-year students are recognized at the end of their first academic year. Upper division students are recognized at the conclusion of the fall and spring semesters. The Fall 2013 Dean’s List has just been posted. Congratulations to our honorees!
5. Academic Excellence Program. Associate Dean Marin Scordato and Assistant Dean Maura DeMouy have developed and are overseeing our Academic Excellence Program, designed to assist all of our students in achieving their full potential for academic performance. As part of this program, Dean DeMouy has recruited and trained our first group of Dean’s Academic Fellows to tutor and coach their fellow students. They are Adam Hare, Jaclyn Kavendek, Alyssa King, Alison Landry, Jenna Munnelly, Jarod Schlenker, and Jacob Szewcszyk. We appreciate their commitment to assisting other students in striving for academic excellence.
6. Brandon Crisp, J.D. Last month, I reported on the inspiring story of 4th year evening student Brandon Crisp, who tenaciously achieved his goal of satisfying the requirements for his J.D. degree while battling cancer. Given his precarious health, the Law School expedited the award of his degree, and I had the great honor and privilege to present Brandon with his diploma at his home in Manassas in early January. Sadly, Brandon passed away on February 5. But Brandon Crisp will forever be remembered as a role model for all students for his phenomenal dedication, tremendous courage, and amazing persistence in achieving the goal of a CUA Law degree.
7. CUA Law Students Win National Trial Law Competition. A CUA Law team consisting of students Aliba Henry ’14, Kevin Kleponis ’14, and Antonio Moore ’15 were among the teams from 26 law schools competing at the 7th Annual John L. Costello Criminal Law Advocacy Trial Competition, sponsored by George Mason University’s Law School. The CUA Law team finished first in the competition after participating in a grueling schedule of five separate trials in less than 72 hours. Said Professor Louis Barracato, who directs our trial team program: “The judge’s post-trial comments were so laudatory about the advocates that I was almost embarrassed.” Congratulations to the team and their almost red-faced director!
8. CUA Law Students Publish Scholarship with the Newseum’s First Amendment Center. Three CUA Law students – David Levie ’15, Zack Navit ’15, and Kara Tappan ’15 – have co-authored a special report on the “Constitutionality of Funeral-Picketing Laws Since Snyder v. Phelps,” which has been published by the Newseum’s First Amendment Center. The publication is the result of a partnership between the Newseum, a nonpartisan educational and information resource on First Amendment issues, and the Law School, under the leadership of Professor Sarah Duggin, Director of our Law and Public Policy Program.
9. CUA Law Students Sponsor SPIL Auction. On February 7, the Law School’s atrium and auditorium came alive with enthusiasm to support the annual auction to support Students for Public Interest Law (SPIL). The SPIL auction was organized by two very hardworking students, Raha Mokhtari ’15 and Caitlyn Yuschak ’15, to raise funds for modest stipends for students taking on public interest jobs during the upcoming summer. Professor Mary Leary served as the energetic auctioneer, while Director of Financial Aid David Schrock tirelessly led the administrative support. Approximately $39,000 was raised to support this very worthy cause. Congratulations!
10. Pre-Law Society for CUA Undergraduates. Several CUA undergraduates, led by sophomores Carolyn Cipoletti and Kevin Freile, have organized a Pre-Law Society for students interested in considering a career in the legal profession. Over 60 undergraduate students attended the new society’s inaugural meeting on February 6. There we had an opportunity to introduce the undergraduates to our Law School, explain our willingness to assist the group in their activities, and to answer their very thoughtful questions. We are very pleased with this initiative and look forward to supporting this undergraduate society of future lawyers, some of whom we hope will decide to prepare for their careers by enrolling at CUA Law.
11. CUA Law and the D.C. Superior Court. On January 28, the Law School had an opportunity to celebrate our longstanding relationship with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia at a reception attended by judges and law clerks. Fifteen currently sitting judges on the Superior Court are CUA Law graduates, and others have served as adjunct lecturers at the Law School. More than 100 CUA Law alumni have also served as law clerks to judges on the Superior Court. At the reception, Chief Judge Satterfield and former Chief Judge Fred Ugast, both of whom taught for many years at CUA Law, spoke about the strong, mutually beneficial professional connections between the Superior Court and the Law School.
12. Alumna's 100th Birthday. CUA Law alumna and benefactor Josephine Hillyard '37 celebrated her 100th birthday on February 17th. We visited Josephine at her retirement home in Chevy Chase to mark the occasion. For a photo and related story, please click here. We appreciate Josephine’s generosity to the Law School and extend our best wishes to Josephine for her continued good health and happiness.
13. Study of Class of 2000 Graduates from U.S. Law Schools. Fellows of the American Bar Foundation recently presented the results of their ongoing comprehensive study of thousands of individuals who graduated from U.S. law schools in the class of 2000. Among the findings of the “After the JD” study are that the over 3,000 respondents from the class of 2000 are largely happy with their decision to attend law school. On a scale of 1 to 5, respondents gave an average score of 3.92 when asked to rate their satisfaction with their decision to become a lawyer. On a scale of 1 to 7, they gave an average score of 5.5 when asked whether law school was a good investment. 44% of the respondents are in private practice, while 28% work in the business sector. This represents a marked change from when the same group of class of 2000 graduates was surveyed ten years ago: then, 69% were in private practice and only 8% were in business. Interestingly, 24% of the respondents are no longer practicing law. The highest percentages of nonpracticing lawyers are working in the nonprofit and education sector or for the federal government. Nonpracticing careers reportedly also include real estate agents, investment bankers, and even a few law professors.
Thank you for your interest and support. I welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel F. Attridge
Dean and Knights of Columbus Professor of Law