Telephone: (202) 806-8000

Fax: (202) 806-8424



ABA Approved Since 1931


The Howard University School of Law started as the Howard University Law Department on January 6, 1869 under the leadership of Professor John Mercer Langston. In 1870, Langston was appointed dean. The department opened with six students and increased to twenty‑two by the close of the session on June 30, 1869.


Initially, two years were required for the LL.B. degree. Ten of the two‑year students graduated on February 3, 1871, eight of whom were admitted to practice in the District of Columbia on the following day. The school officially extended its requirements for graduation from two years to three years during the 1877‑1878 academic term. The new three‑year program began in 1900.


During this fledgling period, classes were held three nights a week in the homes and offices of the four instructors. Arrangements were later made for the department to use a room in the Second National Bank at 509 Seventh Street, N.W. Classes were later held in the Lincoln Hall building on Ninth and D Streets, N.W., until December 5, 1886, when the building was destroyed by fire. Then classes moved to a room located at Seventh and E Street, N.W. On June 23, 1887, the University purchased a house at 420 Fifth Street, N.W., which served as the law school site until it was moved to the main campus in 1936. In 1974, the school purchased the Dunbarton College at 2900 Van Ness Street, N.W., where it has remained to date.


In 1931, the School of Law was accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). In the same year, the school was granted membership in the Association of American Law Schools, (AALS).


Today, Howard University School of Law confers an average of 140 Juris Doctor and Master of Comparative Jurisprudence degrees annually to students from the United States and countries in South America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. It has a faculty of thirty‑six full‑time instructors and thirty adjunct instructors.


From its small beginnings, the school has grown in size and structure under the leadership of its deans. Among the more nationally noted are Charles Hamilton Houston, 1930‑1935; William Henry Hastie, 1939‑1946; James M. Nabrit, 1958‑1960; Spotswood Robinson III, 1960‑1963; and Wiley A. Branton, Sr., 1978‑1983. In 1872, the law school graduated the first black woman lawyer, Charlotte E. Ray. She is also recognized as the first woman to be admitted to practice law before the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia. James C. Napier, another 1872 graduate, was the Registrar of the United States Treasury, 1911‑1913, and a member of Howard's Board of Trustees, 1911‑1940. Other graduates who have received merited recognition and distinctions include Thurgood Marshall, the first black United States Supreme Court Justice (LL.B. 1933); Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. former president of the National Urban League, (LL.B. 1960); Damon Keith, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, (LL.B. 1949); William Bryant, Judge, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, (LL.B. 1936); Spotswood W. Robinson III, Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, (LL.B. 1939); Douglas Wilder, former Governor of the State of Virginia; Julia Cooper Mack, Judge, District of Columbia Court of Appeals (LL.B., 1952); H. Patrick Swygert, President of Howard University (LL.B., 1968); and Sharon Pratt Kelly, former Mayor of the District of Columbia. The school has produced a large number of distinguished law professors and members of the practicing bar.


The School of Law was created to provide legal education for African Americans and other disadvantaged persons. The School of Law's mission is to produce superior professionals, capable of achieving positions of leadership in law, business, government, education, and public service. More importantly, Howard University School of Law is dedicated to producing "social engineers." As Charles Hamilton Houston stated, "A lawyer's either a social engineer or...a parasite on society...A social engineer [is] a highly skilled, perceptive, sensitive lawyer who [understands] the Constitution of the United States and [knows] how to explore its uses in the solving of problems of local communities and in bettering conditions of the underprivileged citizens."


In May 2001, the School of Law moved into a new state‑of‑the‑art law library. This four‑story, 76,000 square foot building provides for a book collection of up to 215,000 volumes; seating for over 295 students (more than 50% of the student population), including 90 open carrels, with all locations wired for computer use. The first floor features a fifty‑six seat classroom equipped with individually designated data ports and a SMART board. The first floor also houses the reserve reading room, audiovisual and microform suites, and rooms for videotaping. The second floor houses the main reading room, the reference area, seven study rooms, and thirty individual carrels. The third floor houses lounges, study rooms and thirty additional individual carrels. The fourth floor of this beautiful edifice houses additional reading rooms, a special Collections room, and additional individual carrels


Among the many things that make the Howard University School of Law a special place to study law are the opportunities it affords its students to enrich their educational experience with an extensive clinical program, the resources in the nation's capital and by travel and study abroad. Howard University has an impressive range of clinical programs that include the Criminal Justice Clinic, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Fair Housing Clinic, and The Civil Rights Clinic. In addition, Howard University participates in a consortium with other law schools in the region known as DC Law Students in Court that allows students to represent clients on Landlord‑Tenant matters.  The South Africa Summer Program, approved by the American Bar Association, allows students to earn up to six semester hours of law school credit. The program offers courses in International Business Transaction, South Africa's Constitution in Comparative Perspective, and Contemporary Developments in Comparative and International Law. This program offers an extraordinary opportunity for students to witness, firsthand, the historic legal and political changes in South Africa. The Howard program is unique because of the opportunity it provides for interaction with South African law students and graduates who also participate in the program.




Kurt L. Schmoke (202) 806‑8000

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs:

Okianer Christian Dark (202) 806‑8003

Director of the Law Library:

Rhea Ballard‑Thrower (202) 806‑8045

Executive Director for Administration and Operations:

JoAnn Fax (202) 806‑8015

Assistant Dean for Admissions:

Reginald McGahee (202) 806‑8009

Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Records & Financial Aid:

Dione Traci Duckett (202) 806‑8006

Financial Aid:

Norman James (202) 806‑8005


LuEllen Conti (202) 806‑8135




KURT L. SCHMOKE, (Dean), born Baltimore, Maryland, December 1, 1949; admitted to bar, 1976, Maryland; 2000, District of Columbia. Education: Yale University (B.A., 1971); Oxford University (Dipl., 1973); Harvard University (J.D., 1976). Email:

RHEA BALLARD‑THROWER, (Associate Professor, Director of the Law Library), born Toledo, Ohio, April 5, 1961. Education: University of Cincinnati (B.A., 1983); University of Kentucky (J.D., 1986); University of Michigan (M.I.L.S., 1988). COURSES: Advanced Legal Research. Email:


DEREK BLACK, (Assistant Professor), born Oakridge, Tennessee, September 1, 1976; admitted to bar, 2002, Tennessee; 2004, District of Columbia. Education: University of Tennessee (B.A., 1999); University of North Carolina School of Law (J.D., 2002). COURSES: Education Law, Torts I & II. Email:


PETER BLUM, (Legal Writing Instructor), born Red Bank, New Jersey, October 14, 1964; admitted to bar, 1993, New Jersey; 1995, New York. Education: Dickinson College (B.A., 1986); Brooklyn Law School (J.D., 1993). COURSES: Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research I & II. Email:


SPENCER H. BOYER, (Professor), born 1938; admitted to bar, 1967, District of Columbia. Education: Howard University (B.S. in E.E., 1960); George Washington University (LL.B., 1965); Harvard University (LL.M., 1966). COURSES: Contracts, Entertainment Law. Email:


ALICE GRESHAM BULLOCK, (Professor), admitted to bar, Georgia and District of Columbia. Education: Howard University (B.A., 1972; J.D., 1975). COURSES: Advanced Tax Problems, Federal Income Tax, Wills, Trusts and Estates, Corporations. Email:


LISA ANN CROOMS, (Professor), born 1962; admitted to bar, 1991, California. Education: Howard University (B.A., 1984); University of Michigan (J.D., 1991). COURSES: Constitutional Law, Gender and the Law, Critical Race Theory, International Human Rights. Email:


ELIZABETH CHRISTI CUNNINGHAM, (Professor and Director of Legal Reasoning, Research and Writing Program), born 1967; admitted to bar, 1993, New York. Education: Southern Methodist University (B.S.B.A., 1989); Yale Law School (J.D., 1992). COURSES: Equal Employment Law, Labor Law, Legal Methods, Legal Research, Reasoning and Writing. Email:


OKIANER CHRISTIAN DARK, (Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs), born Petersburg, Virginia, December 8, 1954; admitted to bar, 1979, Pennsylvania, New Jersey; 1984, Virginia. Education: Upsala College (B.A., 1976); Rutgers University Newark School of Law (J.D., 1979). COURSES: Torts, Advanced Torts, Products Liability, Health Law. Email:


PATRICIA DEMAIO, (Legal Writing Instructor), born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 19, 1973; admitted to bar, 1999, Pennsylvania. Education: Morgan State University (B.S., 1996); Temple University School of Law (J.D., 1999). COURSES: Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research I & II. Email:


MARSHA A. ECHOLS, (Professor and Director of LL.M. Program), Education: Howard University (B.A., 1965); Phi Beta Kappa; Georgetown University (J.D., 1968); Free University of Brussels (LL.M., 1973). COURSES: International Business Transactions, Problems of World Order, International Economic Law, International Sales. Email:


ADERSON FRANCOIS, (Assistant Professor), born Port‑au‑Prince, Haiti, March 10, 1966; admitted to bar, 1995, New York; 2006, District of Columbia; 2006, U.S. Supreme Court. Education: New York University (B.A., 1988); New York University School of Law (J.D., 1991). COURSES: Legal Methods, Civil Rights Clinic. Email:


ANDREW I. GAVIL, (Professor), born 1957; admitted to bar, 1981, Illinois; 1986, Colorado; 1993, District of Columbia. Education: Queens College, CUNY (B.A., 1978); Northwestern University (J.D., 1981). COURSES: Antitrust, Civil Procedure, Federal Courts, Complex Litigation. Email:


STEVEN D. JAMAR, (Professor), born 1953; admitted to bar, 1979, Minnesota; 1994, District of Columbia. Education: Carleton College (B.A., 1975); Hamline University (J.D., 1979); George Washington University (LL.M., 1994). COURSES: Constitutional Law, Introduction to Intellectual Property, Interviewing, Negotiation & Client Counseling. Email:


ADAM HARRIS KURLAND, (Professor), born 1957; admitted to bar, 1981, California; 1994, District of Columbia. Education: University of California at Los Angeles (B.A., 1978; J.D., 1981). COURSES: Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure I & II, Evidence, Federal Criminal Law. Email:


HOMER C. LARUE, (Professor), born 1948; admitted to bar, 1975, New York; 1980, U.S. Supreme Court; 1992, Maryland; 1994, District of Columbia. Education: Purdue University (B.A., 1970); Cornell University (J.D., 1974; M.I.L.R., 1975). COURSES: Civil Procedure, Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic, Alternative Dispute Resolution. Email:


WARNER LAWSON, JR., (Professor), born 1940; admitted to bar, 1970, New York. Education: Howard University (B.A., 1962; J.D., 1969). COURSES: Sales and Secured Transactions, Remedies, Contracts. Email:


ISIAH LEGGETT, (Professor), admitted to bar, 1974, Iowa and Pennsylvania; 1975, District of Columbia and Louisiana. Education: Southern University (B.A., 1967); Howard University (M.A., 1972; J.D., 1974); George Washington University (1976). COURSES: Torts I and II, Law and Medicine, Government Contracts. Email:


CYNTHIA REGINA MABRY, (Professor), born 1957; admitted to bar, 1983, District of Columbia. Education: Howard University (B.A., 1979; J.D., 1983); New York University (LL.M., 1996). COURSES: Family Law, Children and the Law, Civil Procedure. Email:


HAROLD MCDOUGALL, (Professor), born 1945; admitted to bar, 1972, New York; 1983, District of Columbia. Education: Harvard (B.A., 1967); Yale (J.D., 1971). COURSES: Land Finance, Land Development, Property, Civil Rights Planning. Email:


TAMAR M. MEEKINS, (Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Law Center), born Richmond, Virginia, November 21, 1961; admitted to bar, 1987, Pennsylvania; 1989, District of Columbia. Education: University of Pennsylvania (B.A., 1984); University of Virginia (J.D., 1987). COURSES: Criminal Law, Criminal Justice Clinic. Email:


ZIYAD MOTALA, (Professor and Director of South Africa Program), born 1962. Education: University of Natal (B.A., 1983; LL.B., 1985); Northwestern University (LL.M., 1987; S.J.D., 1991). COURSES: Constitutional Law, Comparative Law, International Law. Email:


LATEEF MTIMA, (Professor), born 1960; admitted to bar, New York; Pennsylvania. Education: Amherst College (B.A., 1982); Harvard Law School (J.D., 1985). COURSES: Sales and Secured Transactions, Creditors and Debtors Rights, Computer Law, Introduction to Intellectual Property, Torts. Email:


MICHAEL D. NEWSOM, (Professor), born 1943; admitted to bar, 1967, Illinois; 1980, District of Columbia. Education: Amherst College (B.A., 1964); Harvard Law School (LL.B., 1967). COURSES: Property, Church‑State Seminar, Wills, Trusts & Estates. Email:


CHERYL C. NICHOLS, (Assistant Professor), born Atlanta, Georgia, June 21, 1958; admitted to bar, 1992, Georgia; 2002, New York. Education: Emory University (B.A., 1980); University of Miami (M.B.A., 1983); Georgia State University College of Law (J.D., 1992). COURSES: Corporations, Broker Dealer Regulation, Securities Regulation, Commercial Paper. Email:


LAURENCE NOLAN, (Professor), admitted to bar, 1974, Michigan; 1981, District of Columbia; 1983, Maryland. Education: Howard University (B.S., 1981); University of Michigan (J.D., 1974). COURSES: Wills, Trusts and Estates, Family Law, Law and Aging. Email:


REGINALD L. ROBINSON, (Professor), born 1955; admitted to bar, 1983, New York. Education: Howard University (B.A., 1981); University of Pennsylvania (J.D., 1989). COURSES: Jurisprudence, Critical Race Theory, Business Organizations. Email:


W. SHERMAN ROGERS, (Professor), born 1951; admitted to bar, Alabama and New York. Education: Oakwood College (B.A., 1973); Howard University (J.D., 1976). COURSES: Business Organizations, Corporations, Conflict of Laws, Federal Courts, Property. Email:


JOSEPHINE ROSS, (Associate Professor), born New York, New York, August 11, 1958; admitted to bar, 1985, Massachusetts; 2005, District of Columbia. Education: Oberlin College (B.A., 1981); Boston University School of Law (J.D., 1984). COURSES: Criminal Justice Clinic, Criminal Law. Email:


ANDREW ERIC TASLITZ, (Professor), born 1956; admitted to bar, 1981, Pennsylvania and District of Columbia. Education: Queens College, City University of New York (B.A., 1978); University of Pennsylvania (J.D., 1981). COURSES: Criminal Procedure I and II, Evidence, Criminal Law. Email:


PATRICIA M. WORTHY, (Professor), born 1944; admitted to bar, 1971, District of Columbia. Education: Brooklyn College (B.A., 1966); Howard University (J.D., 1969). COURSES: Administrative Law, Legal Methods, Professional Responsibility. Email: