The University of the District of Columbia’s law school is surging in the U.S. News & World Report specialty ranking for the “clinical training” category. The UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, which won full accreditation from the American Bar Association only three years ago, has tied Stanford for 13th place (and clobbered 19th-ranked Harvard) on the 2008 list.

“It is a very big deal,” says dean Shelley Broderick, who notes that UDC law is the only law school in the United States without its own building (the school operates on two floors of a building at the university’s Van Ness campus). “If you look at how richly resourced the other programs are, you know we’ve got it going on at UDC.”

A legal clinic is a teaching method in which law students, under faculty supervision, learn the trade by representing actual clients in court. Broderick says that UDC requires more clinical credit hours than any other school in the country. The school’s predecessor, the Antioch School of Law, pioneered clinical legal training from its co-founding in 1972 by current UDC faculty member Edgar Cahn. Most law schools nowadays offer a clinic of some kind.

Broderick hopes the national recognition will “help us win the hearts and minds of those funding major capital projects” so the school can have its own home. She says the school wants to share a space near D.C. court buildings with other providers of legal service to the poor.