Dear Prospective Law Student,
Catholic Law has been a leader in legal education for more than 120 years. We have an outstanding educational program, an authentic Catholic identity that is welcoming to students of all faiths, and a mission that encourages everyone in our community to learn to serve and flourish: to serve others, especially the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, but also clients in business and other endeavors; and to flourish ourselves as human beings, as we learn what it means to be lawyers and how to be fully engaged in our work and in meaningful relationships.
We are delivering a top-notch legal education in the midst of a global pandemic. We pivoted quickly online last spring and received course evaluations from our students that were better than ever (and they are always good!). We have implemented thorough health and safety protocols to enable us to be the only law school in Washington, D.C. providing in-person instruction this fall to our first-year law students (in combination with some online offerings). Despite the challenges of the pandemic, this is a great time to plan to study at Catholic Law.
We are known for our small and caring community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Our students work together to help each other succeed—an extraordinary dynamic for legal education, which I’m sure you know is notoriously competitive. Among our faculty are top scholars in their fields, outstanding teachers, and former leaders in government, private industry, and law firm practice.
Faculty and staff members make tremendous efforts to get to know students and to give them the support they need, and many strong alumni are deeply engaged in our students’ success. Law study and practice are hard. Here at Catholic, we care about one another’s well-being and deploy rich resources to support it.
Catholic Law understands its mission to include an ethic of instilling in students the desire and capability to serve others, and the school is known for preparing many students for, and sending them into, some form of public service—whether the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of one of the military services, a prosecutor or public defender’s office, a Congressional staff position, or a job in some other federal or state agency. We prepare practical lawyers with grit and a strong work ethic, who also succeed in trial practice, large and small law firms, and many careers that are not typically considered traditional for lawyers, such as financial services. The Law School boasts phenomenally successful alumni in diverse fields, and you will get to know many of them through our mentoring programs if you join us.
Our student advocacy programs have long been competitive, and we recently boasted the #1 student trial team in the nation, as they won the National Trial Team Championship in 2019. In addition, the Law School hosts the premier moot court competition focusing on First Amendment issues, which draws a large, competitive field of teams as well as many prominent judges.
We have robust opportunities for students to participate in centers and institutes and to explore specialties, including certificates that students can earn in Securities Law; Compliance, Investigations, and Corporate Responsibility; Comparative and International Law; Law and Public Policy; and Law and Technology (including Communications Law, Intellectual Property, and Privacy Law). The Law School also recently opened its Center for Religious Liberty and has several other important initiatives in the works, including a Lawyers of Faith Leadership Program, which you could help shape.
We have study abroad programs in Rome and Poland, and excellent opportunities for students to receive experiential learning through our externship program and clinics, including clinics that serve immigrants, veterans, and the poor. Legal education in this country got started with apprenticeships, and the opportunity to work side-by-side with experienced experts while you are in law school is still excellent training and a great way for you to get a better sense of the career path that is right for you.
Catholic Law is housed in a beautiful building that recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. We are located in Washington, D.C.—the seat of our nation’s government and the premier legal market for almost everything—just down the road from the Capitol, and particularly close to a DC Metro Red Line stop. I hope that you will visit us—whether virtually or, when possible, in person—to learn what the Catholic Law experience is all about. I hope to meet you soon!
All the best,
Stephen C. Payne
Dean, Columbus School of Law
Knights of Columbus Progessor of Law