Clinics, Externships, and Legal Practicum

The law school’s location gives Mason Law students unparalleled opportunities to gain substantial practical experience while in law school and the ability to earn credit for the work they do.  Students may enroll in multiple practice-oriented courses, including the programs listed below, subject to Academic Regulation 3.3-1, which addresses the number of out-of-class credits and pass/fail (or “CR”) credits students may count toward their degree.  Additional information regarding the clinics, externship programs, and legal practicum described below can be found in the Career, Academic and Alumni Services (CAAS) Office, Room 370.

Legal Clinics

Through Mason’s clinics students provide legal assistance to clients under the supervision of Mason professors and supervisors.  Students may participate in the same clinic for two semesters, subject to professor approval.   Students also may enroll in more than one clinic during their time at Mason Law, subject to Academic Regulation 3.3-1.

Most of Mason's clinics do not accept clients on a call or walk-in basis. Active-duty servicemembers, dependents and veterans of the military who are in need of legal assistance should contact CLASV at 703-993-8214 or visit clas.law.gmu.edu/apply to submit an intake application.

Legal Clinic - Clinic for Legal Assistance to Servicemembers and Veterans (CLASV)   

CLASV was founded in 2004 in response to 9/11 and the desire of the law school community to help active-duty members of the armed forces and their families for whom retaining counsel would be an undue hardship. Students have represented clients from all armed services in civil litigation; adjudication and negotiation regarding consumer protection; and administrative law, bankruptcy, family law, landlord-tenant, contract, military law and entitlement matters in federal and state forums. Students are supervised by Professor Laurie Forbes Neff and private practitioners with subject matter expertise, and receive weekly classroom instruction on legal ethics, client interviewing, procedural and substantive issues relevant to their cases, and national-security developments relevant to the client population they serve. This course is a graded course offered year-round. Students enrolled in the fall or spring may earn 2 in-class credits, and students enrolled in the summer may earn 1 in-class credit and 1 out-of-class credit. Space is limited, and registration is open to students who have completed their first year of law school. For more information about the program's requirements and application process, please see the Information Packet for CLASV.

Supervised Externship and Clinic - Domestic Relations

The Domestic Relations program, supervised by Former Judge and Senior Lecturer in Law Leslie M. Alden, has a clinical component and an externship component. In the clinical component, students have a unique opportunity to assist pro se litigants in obtaining uncontested divorces in Fairfax Circuit Court. Pro se litigants who already have initiated the divorce process in Fairfax Circuit Court but have been unable to complete the process due to difficulties with filing the necessary documents, are referred to the Domestic Relations program by the Court. In the clinical component, students are given their own case load of litigants to assist and may meet with clients, draft pleadings, review documentation and appear in court for ore tenus hearings before a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge. In the externship component, students are assigned to a supervising attorney who is an expert in domestic relations law and will work in the supervising attorney’s office on all manner of domestic relations issues and cases. Students may perform research and writing, assist with the discovery process, and observe court proceedings. Additionally, if they have their Third-Year Practice Certificate*, some students may even have the opportunity to argue motions for support or minor property determinations. This pass/fail program is offered year-round, and students may earn 3 out-of-class credits for 180 hours of field work. Space is limited. Students must submit an application to CAAS and interview prior to registering for this program. Applications are available through CAAS. Students may participate in this program twice, subject to space and professor's approval. For more information about the program’s requirements and application process, please see the Supervised Externship and Clinic - Domestic Relations Information Packet.

Legal Clinic - Law and Mental Illness 

The Law and Mental Illness Clinic allows students to gain practical experience in the judicial, legislative, academic and advocacy aspects of the law concerning the treatment of individuals with severe mental illness. The classroom component of the course studies the history and development of laws affecting the mentally ill, while also preparing the students for representation of petitioners during civil commitment hearings. Students may locate and interview witnesses, appear at commitment hearings, perform direct and cross-examinations and present legal argument. This course is a letter-graded course offered in the fall and spring, and students may receive 3 credits total (2 in-class credits and 1 out of-class credit). Space is limited, and registration is open to students who have completed their first year of law school. For more information about the program's requirements, please see the Information Packet for the Legal Clinic—Mental Illness.

Legal Clinic - Practical Preparation Of GMU Patent Applications

In this clinic, students write actual applications that will be filed for inventors affiliated with George Mason University. The students are each assigned an invention, and work directly with the inventor(s), who are generally George Mason University professors or staff, to write a patent application covering the invention. Students are instructed as to best practices before meeting with the inventor(s) and drafting the application, and then are critiqued regarding their written patent applications. The patent applications will be written in stages, including invention disclosure considerations, drawings, claims, and specification, with critique on each step in the process. Multiple drafts of the complete application will be written and critiqued until it is ready for filing. This course is a graded course offered in the spring and counts as a writing (W) course towards the upper-level writing requirement.  Students may earn 2 credits total (1 in-class credit and 1 out-of-class credit). Space is limited, and registration is open only to students who have taken Patent Law I, Patent Law II, Patent Writing Theory and Practice or equivalent experience. For more information about the program's requirements, please see the Information Packet for the Legal Clinic - Practical Preparation of GMU Patent Applications.

Legal Clinic - Supreme Court Clinic

The Supreme Court Clinic, offered in partnership with Wiley Rein LLP, a Washington, D.C., law firm, provides pro bono legal representation before the United States Supreme Court. The year-long clinic provides George Mason law students with the opportunity to work closely with Wiley Rein attorneys to identify cases of interest, research legal issues, and draft Supreme Court briefs on behalf of parties and amici at both the certiorari and merits stages.

The Supreme Court Clinic is directed by William S. Consovoy and Thomas R. McCarthy. Both are lawyers in Wiley Rein's Appellate Group and 2001 graduates of the law school. Mr. Consovoy previously clerked for Associate Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court and Chief Judge Edith H. Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Mr. McCarthy previously clerked for Chief Judge David B. Sentelle of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Judge Frank W. Bullock Jr. of the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

In addition to working with Wiley Rein attorneys on Supreme Court cases, students accepted into the clinic will receive classroom instruction, analyze federal and state appellate decisions for possible litigation opportunities, and attend at least one Supreme Court argument per Term.

The clinic is a two semester (fall and spring), graded class, with two credits awarded each semester. Space is limited, and students must have completed Constitutional Law I: Structure of Government in order to be eligible for the clinic. Applications are available through CAAS.

For more information about the program's requirements, please see the Information Packet for the Legal Clinic – Supreme Court.

Supervised Externships

Under the supervision of Mason professors and field supervisors, the supervised externship programs are designed to allow students who have completed their first year of law school to perform substantive legal and legal policy work (unpaid) outside the classroom for academic credit.  George Mason's proximity to Washington, D.C. and location in vibrant Northern Virginia offers students a wide range of opportunities to work in the field.  In addition, in the summer semester, students may work outside of the D.C. area for academic credit, subject to professor approval.  All externship programs are pass/fail, and students earn 2 or 3 out-of-class credits for their field work, depending on the particular externship program.

Supervised Externships – Fall, Spring, Summer

Through this program, students have undertaken externships in such varied places as the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Communications Commission, Capitol Hill, the Nature Conservancy, the Recording Industry of America, a variety of federal and state courts, the Alexandria Commonwealth Attorney's Office, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Legal Services offices across the country, and more. Students secure these unpaid internships on their own in a variety of ways, including through the job posting information available in CAAS and networking. This pass/fail program is offered year round, and students may earn 2 out-of-class credits for 120 hours of field work completed over the course of a semester or 3 out-of-class credits for 180 hours of field work. Students must attend tutorials during the semester. Students may register for this program after having their internship and field supervisor approved by the course instructor. For more information about the program's requirements and application process, please see the Externship Information Packet. For more information on the role and responsibilities of a Supervising Attorney in this program, please see Guidelines for Supervising Attorneys.

Supervised Externship – Capitol Hill

George Mason’s Supervised Externship – Capitol Hill program presents students with the opportunity to experience the intersection of law and policy by earning credit for unpaid work in Capitol Hill offices or committees; in government affairs offices of agencies, corporations, or nonprofits; trade associations; in lobbying firms, and with government affairs groups within law firms. Mason Law has a rich history of graduates with prominent positions “inside the Beltway” and through this program students will be introduced to the extensive alumni network of the Mason Law Capitol Hill Law & Economics alumni group. Students who have secured their own positions with the employers described above or students who would like assistance with placement are eligible for this program.

Adjunct professor David Landers, Class of 1993 and Vice President, Government Relations, Managed Funds Association, directs this program, determines individual placements, monitors students’ progress, and coordinates with field supervisors. This pass/fail program is offered in Fall 2014 and will be offered in the spring pending faculty approval. Students will earn 3 out-of-class credits for 180 hours of fieldwork. Space is limited for those students seeking placements. Applications to be placed are available through CAAS. Students seeking placement may participate in this program twice, subject to space and professor's approval. Students who have secured their own placements may participate more than two times. For more information about the program’s requirements and application process, please see the Supervised Externship  Capitol Hill Information Packet

Supervised Externship – Virginia Practice

Through this program, students are placed as interns throughout Northern Virginia, including in Judges' Chambers, the Office of the Public Defender, the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney, a City or County attorney’s office, Legal Aid, or in a private attorney's office. Heavy emphasis is placed on developing students’ litigation skills.  Former Judge and Senior Lecturer in Law Leslie M. Alden directs this program, determines individual placements, monitors students’ progress, and coordinates with field supervisors.  This pass/fail program is offered year-round, and students will earn 3 out-of-class credits for 180 hours of field work.  Space is limited.  Students must submit an application to CAAS and interview prior to registering for this program.  Applications are available through CAAS. Students may participate in this program twice, subject to space and professor's approval. For more information about the program’s requirements and application process, please see the Supervised Externship – Virginia Practice. For more information on the role and responsibilities of a Supervising Attorney in this program, please see Guidelines for Supervising Attorneys.  

Supervised Externship and Clinic - Domestic Relations

The Domestic Relations program, supervised by Former Judge and Professor, Leslie M. Alden, has both an externship component and a clinical component and offers students the opportunity to work on an array of domestic relations matters. In the externship component, students are assigned to a supervising attorney who is an expert in domestic relations law and will work in the supervising attorney’s office on all manner of domestic relations issues and cases. Students may perform research and writing, assist with the discovery process, and observe court proceedings. Additionally, if they have their Third-Year Practice Certificate*, some students may even have the opportunity to argue motions for support or minor property determinations.  The clinical component offers students a unique opportunity to assist pro se litigants in obtaining uncontested divorces in Fairfax Circuit Court. Pro se litigants who already have initiated the divorce process in Fairfax Circuit Court but have been unable to complete the process due to difficulties with filing the necessary documents, are referred to the Domestic Relations program by the Court.  In the clinical component, students are given their own case load of litigants to assist and may meet with clients, draft pleadings, review documentation and appear in court for ore tenus hearings before a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge.   This pass/fail program is offered year-round, and students may earn 3 out-of-class credits for 180 hours of field work. Space is limited. Students must submit an application to CAAS and interview prior to registering for this program. Applications are available through CAAS. Students may participate in this program twice, subject to space and professor's approval. For more information about the program’s requirements and application process, please see the Supervised Externship and Clinic - Domestic Relations Information Packet.

Legal Practicum

A legal practicum course enables students to develop practical research and writing skills, using real world problems in a simulation setting.

Legal Practicum: Regulatory Comments

In the Regulatory Comments Legal Practicum students engage in the federal regulatory process by analyzing an active regulation and filing public comments (from a public interest perspective) with a federal agency. The course combines practical lectures with workshops on how to analyze regulations and effectively communicate ideas. Students are taught by adjunct professor Jerry Brito, who is affiliated with the Mercatus Center, and adjunct professor Bridget Dooling with the Office of Management and Budget and also work with a mentor on their regulatory comment. In addition to drafting a public comment, students present their analysis through a mock hearing and op-ed.  This course is offered only in the spring semester; students may receive 2 in-class, graded credits for completing this course.  Space is limited and is open to students who have completed their first year of law school.