First WashULaw classroom building1867: LAW DEPARTMENT OPENS DOORS

The St. Louis Law School is launched as the first Law Department of Washington University. The Law School is housed in the Polytechnic Institute Building at Seventh & Chestnut. The date of the school’s founding earns it the subsequent distinction of being the 12th oldest law school in the nation and the oldest law school west of the Mississippi. Learn more about WashULaw’s buildings here.

WashULaw's First Dean - Henry Hitchcock1867: HENRY HITCHCOCK NAMED DEAN

Henry Hitchcock is named the school’s first Dean. The Moot Court is established to provide students with training in research and preparation of pleadings and oral arguments. Learn more about WashULaw’s inspirational deans here.

Pheobe Couzins - one of the first women admitted to WashULaw1869: LAW SCHOOL ADMITS FIRST FEMALE STUDENTS

The Law School admits Phoebe Couzins (pictured) and Lemma Barkeloo, the first women admitted to a chartered law school. In 1870, Barkeloo becomes the second woman admitted to the bar. Couzins is admitted to the bar in 1872 and later helps found the National Woman Suffrage Association and is the first woman US Marshal in 1887.

Walter Moran Farmer - first African American to graduate from WashULaw1889: FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDENT GRADUATES

Walter Moran Farmer becomes the first African American to graduate from the school (LLB, cum laude). He goes on to be the first African-American lawyer to argue before the Supreme Court of Missouri (1893) and one of the first to argue a case (Duncan v. Missouri, 1894) before the US Supreme Court.

WashULaw moves to Ridgley Hall at Hilltop Campus1909: LAW SCHOOL MOVES TO HILLTOP CAMPUS

With income from the lease of buildings to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company for the 1904 World’s Fair, the University enjoys a construction boom, including the Ridgley Library Building. Chancellor David F. Houston moves the Law Department to the upper floor of Ridgley Hall. Learn more about WashULaw’s buildings here.


The St. Louis Law Review publishes its first issue. Renamed the Law Quarterly in 1936, it suspends publication in 1943 because of World War II, but resumes in 1949. The Law School now publishes four student-run academic journals: Washington University Law Review, Washington University Journal of Law & Policy, Washington University Global Studies Law Review, and Washington University Jurisprudence Review.

WashULaw moves to January Hall1923: LAW SCHOOL MOVES TO JANUARY HALL

The Law School moves from the Ridgley Library Building to January Hall. The building is a gift from Isabel January, who later becomes the wife of the University benefactor Robert Brookings. The building is named in memory of her mother, Grace Vallé January. Learn more about WashULaw’s buildings here.


Wiley Blount Rutledge, Jr. serves as acting Dean for one year and then as Dean of the school from 1931-1935. Rutledge later becomes a Justice of the United States Supreme Court, where he serves from 1943-49. The school’s Wiley Rutledge Moot Court Competition, which began in 1867, is later renamed in his honor.

WashULaw students outside law school building1947: ENROLLMENT BOOMS

Enrollment at the Law School rapidly increases due to the influx of World War II veterans, from 43 students in 1943 to 270 students in 1947.


The Law School offers its first Master of Laws (LLM) degree for students who wish to specialize in Urban Studies. It also begins offering the prestigious JSD degree, which is the equivalent of a PhD in law.

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall1967: SCOTUS JUSTICE MARSHALL DELIVERS LECTURE

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall delivers the Tyrrell Williams Lecture. A civil rights activist, Marshall was the first African-American justice on the Supreme Court, serving from 1967-91. Throughout the years, SCOTUS Justices Felix Frankfurter, William O. Douglas, William Brennan Jr., Harry A Blackmun, Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, and John Paul Stevens and Chief Justices Earl Warren and John Roberts all visit the school.

WashULaw Professor Daniel Mandelker with a law student1968: URBAN LAW ANNUAL DEBUTS

Professor Daniel Mandelker initiates the Urban Law Annual, focused on issues surrounding land use and zoning law, housing and redevelopment law, and local government law. The journal is renamed in 1983 as the Washington University Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law, and is today known as the Washington University Journal of Law & Policy.

WashULaw finds a new home in Mudd Hall1971: LAW SCHOOL MOVES TO MUDD HALL

Named because of a $1.75 million grant from the Seeley G. Mudd Foundation of Los Angeles toward construction of the $3.5 million building, Mudd Hall provides relief from the overcrowded conditions in January Hall. With its concrete interior and exterior, Mudd Hall’s architecture contrasts with the Collegiate Gothic style of other buildings on campus. Women's Law Caucus students from 19721972: WOMEN’S LAW CAUCUS CHAPTER FORMS

The Women’s Law Caucus is founded to emphasize development and achievements of women in the law. Through public service projects and outreach to leading female lawyers, alumnae, and academics, members build foundations for their futures in law. Today, the Women’s Law Caucus is one of the largest student-run groups at the Law School, annually hosting an auction to benefit public service stipends for students.

WashULaw clinic students from 19731973: CLINICAL PROGRAM BEGINS

The Law School launches its Clinical Education Program, with the Introductory Clinic, offered in conjunction with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri. The Advanced Clinic and Judicial Clerkship Clinic are soon added. Today, the Clinical Education Program has expanded to 18 offerings. Learn more about Clinical Opportunities at WashULaw here.

Congressional Law Clinic participants in Washington D.C.1978: CONGRESSIONAL CLINIC LAUNCHED

Founded as one of the first legal externship programs in Washington, D.C., the Congressional Clinic is launched. Today the Congressional & Administrative Law Externship offers full-time clinical opportunities on Capitol Hill, in federal agencies, and at Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s).

Law School dinner to celebrate scholarships1987: FIRST SCHOLARSHIP DINNER CREATES NEW TRADITION

To pay tribute both to those who give and those who receive, the Law School hosts a dinner to celebrate 21 annual scholarships and 28 endowed scholarships. Today the program offers 131 annual scholarships and 170 endowed scholarships.

Inaugural National Council member Bill Van Cleve1989: LAW SCHOOL NATIONAL COUNCIL ESTABLISHED

The Law School forms a National Council to serve as a strategic advisory board. The original group includes 26 alumni and friends, and William Van Cleve (pictured) is named its first chair. Today the National Council has nearly 60 distinguished members.


The Law School begins offering the Master of Laws (LLM) in US Law for foreign lawyers practicing in the global legal environment. In 1996, the LLM in Taxation is added as a specialty for US lawyers. Today, Intellectual Property and Negotiation and Dispute Resolution options are also available.

Ribbon cutting at Anheuser-Busch Hall1997: ANHEUSER-BUSCH HALL OPENS

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Dean Dan Ellis and other dignitaries cut the ribbon for Anheuser-Busch Hall. To help fund the building, the Law School raises $22 million in a little more than three years, exceeding the goal and surpassing the original timetable. Justice O’Connor also gives the keynote address at the dedication in September. Learn more about WashULaw’s buildings here.

William Webster as part of the public interest lecture series1998: PUBLIC INTEREST LECTURE SERIES DEBUTS

The first Public Interest Law & Policy Speakers Series (PILPSS) debuts, including Louise Arbour, Leon Higginbotham, Guido Calabresi, Ralph Nader, Cass Sunstein, and William Webster, JD ’49 (pictured).


Under the direction of Professor Stephen Legomsky, the Institute for Global Legal Studies opens to foster collaboration, continuous dialogue, and exchange among scholars and practitioners engaged in international or comparative law work. In 2002, it is renamed the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute in honor of Whitney Harris, who served as a prosecutor of German war criminals at Nuremberg. Today headed by Professor Leila Sadat, the Harris Institute has hosted more than 100 speakers and presented dozens of conferences.

WashULaw student in the new IP & Technology Law program2001: PROGRAM IN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY & TECHNOLOGY LAW ADDED

Beginning in the fall 2001 semester, the Law School offers a new program in Intellectual Property & Technology Law, drawing on the University’s expertise in medicine, biotechnology, and science, to prepare students for careers in such fields as patent prosecution, trademark law, intellectual property litigation, and health care law.

Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH, delivers keynote address2002: SCHOOLS OF LAW AND MEDICINE PRESENT HUMAN GENOME CONFERENCE

Subtitled “Expanding the Conversation,” the two-day Human Genome Project conference includes the president of the American Law Institute, political theorists, an authority on race and culture, and a historian of technology discussing genome mapping. Francis Collins (pictured), director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health, delivers the keynote address.

Global public interest law initiative2002: GLOBAL PUBLIC INTEREST LAW INITIATIVE BEGINS

Coordinated by Professors Karen Tokarz and Leila Sadat, Global Public Interest Law Internships aim to advance human rights, conflict resolution, and access to justice in Africa, China, India, Thailand, Cambodia, Chile, Panama, Brazil, Italy, and The Hague. Through the program, more than 200 law students have worked on public interest projects abroad.


Believing that lawyers must be versed in negotiation, problem-solving, collaboration, and creative dispute resolution to practice successfully, the Law School launches this innovative Negotiation & Dispute Resolution (NDR) Program. It eventually includes a required first-year course in Negotiation, numerous upper-level classes, and a Master of Laws (LLM) with a concentration in NDR.


The Whitney R. Harris Institute for Global Legal Studies presents the inaugural World Peace Through Law Award to the Honorable Philippe Kirsch, (pictured with Whitney Harris), commemorating the judgment of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Germany, on October 1, 1946. Subsequent awardees are the Honorable Richard Goldstone, Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, His Excellency Sir Christopher Greenwood, and former Nuremberg Prosecutor Benjamin B. Ferencz.


The Center for Empirical Research in the Law (CERL) opens with two goals: to promote and support research relating to law and legal institutions; and to design products that enhance research and teaching about the law and legal institutions. Today CERL is co-directed by Professors Lee Epstein and Pauline Kim, and is known for its innovative projects, including the Supreme Court Database.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and a panel of judges 2007: SCOTUS CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS VISITS SCHOOL

Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. heads the panel of judges presiding over the finals of the School of Law’s Wiley Rutledge Moot Court Competition. The students’ problem was based on the criminal appeal of a fictional contest winner’s boyfriend, who allegedly threatened a celebrity. The panel of judges names second-year law students Samir Kaushik and Renee Waters as finalist champions.

Supreme Court in Washington D.C.2008: SUPREME COURT DATABASE MODERNIZED

Through a multi-university, collaborative project, the Center for Empirical Research in the Law began to preserve and modernize a repository of US Supreme Court records originally created by Michigan State Professor Harold Spaeth and expanded by Washington University Professor Lee Epstein. Today, this sophisticated, research database contains more than 200 pieces of information about each case decided by the Court between the 1791 and 2015 terms.

Crimes Against Humanity Steering Committee composed of Professor Leila Sadat, Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, Ambassador Hans Corell, Justice Richard Goldstone, Professor Juan Méndez, Professor William Schabas, and Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert.2008: CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY INITIATIVE LAUNCHED

Spearheaded by Professor Leila Sadat, the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative is launched to study the need for a comprehensive convention on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity, analyze the necessary elements of such a convention, and draft a proposed treaty. The Initiative is directed by a seven-member Steering Committee composed of Sadat, Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, Ambassador Hans Corell, Justice Richard Goldstone, Professor Juan Méndez, Professor William Schabas, and Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert.

WashULaw Professors in front of new Clinical Education offices2009: NEW CLINIC SPACE DEDICATED

To provide high-quality legal services in a professional environment to the community, the School dedicates a renovated space in A-B Hall for in-house clinics. Today, five of the 18 clinics offered through the Law School are housed here.

Professor in studio recording new online course2013: @WASHULAW ONLINE LLM OFFERED

An innovative program called @WashULaw welcomes its inaugural online class of 10 foreign LLM students. The online degree option is designed for foreign attorneys interested in increasing their knowledge of US law to more effectively practice in today’s global marketplace without leaving their law practices or relocating to the United States. Today, the online program also offers Dual LLM Degree with Tecnológico de Monterrey and a Master of Legal Studies degree for non-lawyers.

WashULaw Dean Nancy Staudt2014: NANCY STAUDT IS NAMED DEAN

Nancy Staudt is named Dean and the Howard & Caroline Cayne Professor of Law. The school’s first woman dean, she is a nationally renowned scholar in tax, tax policy and empirical legal studies. Staudt served as Vice Dean for faculty and academic affairs at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law and was a member of the Washington University Law faculty from 2000-2006.

Becker Student Center2015: NEW JOURNAL SUITE CREATED

Staffs from the four student journals move from Seigle Hall to expanded space in AB Hall. Part of the Becker Student Center, the suite is home to Washington University Law Review, Washington University Journal of Law & Policy, Washington University Global Studies Law Review, and Washington University Jurisprudence Review.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens speaks at WashULaw2016: FORMER SCOTUS JUSTICE STEVENS SPEAKS

US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens speaks to a capacity crowd in Graham Chapel. In addition to offering reflections on his landmark judicial opinions, Stevens responds to questions with grace, wit, and insight. In answer to a final question on his legacy, Stevens modestly remarks, “I did the best I could.”

Alumnus and H.E. Ambassador Louis Susman, JD ’622016: AMBASSADOR SUSMAN VISITS SCHOOL

Alumnus and H.E. Ambassador Louis Susman, JD ’62, the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, returns to the Law School to teach a class, “The Lawyer as Statesman.” He also is featured in a fireside chat with Dean Nancy Staudt. Susman lectured at the school on previous occasions, including as part of the Harris Institute’s lecture series.

Adam Liptak, the Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times2016: NYT SCOTUS CORRESPONDENT ADAM LIPTAK TEACHES COURSE

Professor Lee Epstein, and Adam Liptak, the Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times, co-teach a weekend course titled “The Roberts Court.” At the tail end of the course, Liptak is called back to the Times to cover the sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Materials from the 10th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies (CELS)2016: CERL CO-HOSTS EMPIRICAL LEGAL STUDIES CONFERENCE

WashULaw’s Center for Empirical Research in the Law and the Olin Business School host the 10th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies (CELS). Organized by Professor Pauline Kim and sponsored by the Society for Empirical Legal Studies, CELS is a highly regarded interdisciplinary gathering that draws researchers from across the country and internationally. Scholars in law, economics, political science, psychology, policy analysis, and other fields present papers on the empirical analysis of law and legal institutions.

Judge Robert L. Wilkins, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit speaks at WashULaw2016: JUDGE WILKINS LECTURES ON ‘LONG ROAD TO HARD TRUTH’

Judge Robert L. Wilkins, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, discusses the myriad of challenges behind the National Museum of African American History and Culture during his Tyrrell Williams Lecture. His talk drew from his new book, “Long Road to Hard Truth: The 100-Year Mission to Create the National Museum of African American History and Culture.”

Former Governor Mitt Romney participates in a fireside chat at WashULaw2017: MITT ROMNEY VISITS WASHULAW

Former Governor Mitt Romney participates in a fireside chat in Graham Chapel, and then attends a reception in Crowder Courtyard where he poses for selfies with students. “If you get a chance to run for President, do it,” he said. “It’s a great experience. Or run for city council or the school board. If the window opens, jump through….Always keep an eye open if you’re needed to serve.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. (center) presides over the “The Case of Tom Sawyer”2017: CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS HEARS ‘THE CASE OF TOM SAWYER’

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. (center) presides over the “The Case of Tom Sawyer” with Judges Raymond Gruender, BSBA ’84, MBA ’87, JD ’87, and Nina Pillard as part of WashULaw’s 150th Anniversary celebrations.

Dean Nancy Stuadt in the WashULaw Dean's SuiteINTO THE FUTURE

Three years into her tenure, Dean Staudt has laid the groundwork for her vision of the Law School’s future: “Protect our strong foundation, build on our strengths, and leverage the partnerships that we have created around the University and with our worldwide base of students, faculty, alumni and friends. The Law School has created a synergy of greatness—and I plan to safeguard that collaborative atmosphere throughout my Deanship.”