Antioch School of Law was located at Warder Mansion, pictured above circa 2008. Photo courtesy of NCinDC.
UDC’s Van Ness Campus circa 2003, before the
construction of the UDC Student Center.
4200 Connecticut Avenue NW
The School of Law’s building circa 2011
4340 Connecticut Avenue NW
The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law evolved from two predecessor schools: the Antioch School of Law and the District of Columbia School of Law. Antioch School of Law was created in 1972 by Edgar S. and Jean Camper Cahn who championed the rights of low-income people and minorities. The school was also committed to training public interest lawyers and pioneered a comprehensive clinical legal education model adopted now, in small part at least, in nearly every law school in the country.
After Antioch University decided to close 32 of its units around the country in 1986, including the School of Law, the Council of the District of Columbia passed legislation that established the District of Columbia School of Law and that retained Antioch’s mission, curriculum, clinical programs, and personnel. The school was awarded provisional ABA accreditation in 1991 and rapidly grew to nearly 300 students.
Carrying on Antioch’s traditions, the new public school of law’s statutory missions are:
- to provide a well-rounded theoretical and practical legal education that will enable students to be effective and ethical advocates,
- to recruit and enroll students from groups underrepresented at the bar, and
- to represent the legal needs of low-income residents through the school’s legal clinics.
In 1996, the D.C. Council passed legislation merging the School of Law with the University of the District of Columbia. On April 28, 1998, President Clinton signed legislation re-naming the School of Law. The new University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law honors the legacy of former D.C. Council Chair David A. Clarke, who was a strong civil rights and humanitarian leader and who ardently advocated for the School of Law’s educational, diversity, and public service missions.
In 1998, a new grant of provisional ABA accreditation was awarded to the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, and in 2004, the School of Law applied for full accreditation. The School of Law received full accreditation from the American Bar Association on August 8, 2005, with the unanimous vote of the ABA House of Delegates.
In 2009, the School of Law began offering a part-time, evening program of legal education leading to the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. In 2010, it launched a Master in Laws (LL.M.) degree program to prepare attorneys to become clinical educators and leaders in the public interest bar.
In 2011, the School of Law moved down the street from UDC’s main Van Ness Campus to a 100,000 square-foot building at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Yuma Street, 4340 Connecticut Avenue, NW.
In 2014, the School of Law added two new legal clinics, bringing its total clinics to nine in the areas of Community Development, Criminal Defense and Racial Justice, General Practice, Housing Advocacy and Litigation, Immigration & Human Rights, Legislation, Tax, Whistleblower Protection, and Youth Justice. Through its clinics and other experiential learning programs, the School’s faculty and students provide more than 100,000 hours of legal services to DC residents each year.
“I knew Dave Clarke… I remember the great outpouring of love and respect and affection for him that enveloped the church at his memorial service when he was taken, too young, from us all. Dave was a true giant in the history of this city… No one, before or since, has ever bridged the racial divide in Washington with as much confidence and hope as did Dave. He genuinely cared for the poor and the powerless, and dedicated his life in service to this community. It is fitting and proper that the one law school in Washington which defines as its mission the training of lawyers who also will serve this community, will be named in honor of David A. Clarke.”
– Myles V. Lynk
Partner, Dewey Ballantine, LLP
Past President, District of Columbia Bar
On Tuesday, November 16th, 1999, before a cross section of over 500 District of Columbia residents, the University and School of Law celebrated the naming of the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law. The new School of Law name celebrates the life and work of Dave Clarke: friend, colleague, former law professor, and battler for civil rights who died at the age of 53 in 1997. A portrait of “Dave” was presented to his widow, Carole Clarke, and son, Jeffrey Clarke, by School of Law alumni.
Dave Clarke was a central figure in the District’s civil rights movement and became a life-long advocate for the rights of the disenfranchised and working people. Initially elected to represent the District’s most multi-cultural district Ward One — he was later elected to represent all District citizens At Large and then as Council Chair. After an unsuccessful run for Mayor, Clarke co-founded and co-directed the Legislation Clinic at the School of Law until he again ran for and was elected Council Chairperson. After that, he continued his teaching duties on a pro bono basis.
As Chair of the D.C. Council, Clarke championed the creation of the District’s public law school and its unique program of mandatory clinical service on the part of all law students. In 1986, faced with the loss of critical legal services provided by the closing of the District-based Antioch School of Law, he seized the opportunity to transform that program into a public one, and battled annually for years to ensure full funding.
In addition to his work on the School of Law, among many other causes, Clarke was a renowned and effective rent control advocate. He was also the principal author of and driving force behind the District’s landmark Assault Weapons Strict Liability legislation that helped inspire the federal ban on private ownership of such weapons and foreshadowed a national movement to impose civil liability on gun manufacturers.
The UDC Student Center. Photo by Cannon Design.
The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is the only public institution of higher education in the District of Columbia and the only urban land-grant university in the United States. It currently offers 81 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, encompassing a wide range of education levels and interests, through the following colleges and schools:
- College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences;
- College of Arts and Sciences;
- Community College;
- School of Business and Public Administration;
- School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and
- David A. Clarke School of Law.
UDC was created in 1974 from the merger of three existing institutions of higher education: DC Teacher’s College, Federal City College and the Washington Technical Institute. As a result, while a new University in some respects, UDC has generations of alumni. UDC has been accorded Historically Black College and University (HBCU) status by the federal government — a status that brings prestige, additional resources, and additional responsibility. UDC is one of only six HBCUs in the nation with an American Bar Association-accredited law school.
UDC is committed to responding to both the academic aspirations and the occupational needs of local residents. It keeps abreast of the job marketplace, producing competitive programs and graduates in response to current trends. Treating the entire city as its campus, the University’s academic programs are enhanced by the experiential learning, civic engagement, and career development opportunities provided by its location in the nation’s capital.