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 and Academic Services Office, Room 370.
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 MVETS at 703-993-8214 or visit mvets.law.gmu.edu/apply/ to submit an intake application.
Legal Clinic - Administrative Law Clinic
The Administrative Law Clinic is offered in partnership with Consovoy McCarthy Park PLLC, and will involve students in all aspects of the administrative process: from monitoring agency activity, to participating in ongoing matters, to analyzing relevant legislative proposals, to writing briefs on important administrative-law issues. The Clinic will provide students with the opportunity to work closely with Consovoy McCarthy Park attorneys on behalf of pro bono clients to identify subjects of interest, research administrative-law issues, and draft comments and briefs before agencies and in active litigation. (Additional information about the firm and the attorneys is available at: http://consovoymccarthy.com/). The Clinic classroom component is held in the evenings. Space is limited, and students must have completed Administrative Law (or agree to take Administrative Law concurrently) to be eligible to apply for the Clinic. Students apply via Symplicity.
Students accepted for Spring 2017 who complete all course requirements will receive two (2) graded in-class credits. After its inaugural semester in Spring 2017 and pending faculty approval, the Clinic will be a year-long letter graded course providing two (2) in-class credits in the fall and in the spring semester.
The Arts & Entertainment Advocacy Clinic teaches students the legal and policy skills required for engaging with Congress, agencies, and courts on behalf of copyright owners. Under the supervision of Professor Sandra Aistars, students will develop substantive legal knowledge in copyright and related areas of law as well as practical skills in research, writing, and advocacy by counseling clients and preparing legal and policy documents. Students’ work product will be submitted on behalf of non-profit organizations, individual artists and creators, small businesses, and CPIP in multiple institutional settings in which copyright law and policy are developed. Students may also have the opportunity to participate in specialized artist counseling sessions organized by entities such as the Authors Guild and Slamdance Independent Film Festival and to complete special projects at the invitation of the U.S. Copyright Office. Because this is an advocacy clinic, projects will vary depending on developments in Congress, the courts, and relevant agencies. In addition to direct instruction from Professor Aistars, students will also meet with and learn from relevant government officials and experienced practitioners. Some classes may be scheduled as visits to agencies, Congress and/or the White House.
This clinic is a graded course offered in the fall and spring, and students may receive 3 credits total each semester (2 in class credits and 1 out of class credit). Space is limited, and interested students should submit a short (500 words or less) statement of interest. Registration is open only to students who have taken Copyright Law, Intellectual Property Law, or Entertainment Law.
For more information about the program's requirements, please see the Information Packet for the Arts & Entertainment Advocacy Clinic.
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.
MVETS 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 the director of the clinic 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 MVETS.
Legal Clinic - Practical Preparation of Patent Applications
In this clinic, students write actual applications that will be filed for inventors. The students are each assigned an invention, and work directly with the inventor(s) 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 Patent Applications.
Legal Clinic - Supreme Court Clinic
The Supreme Court Clinic 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 experienced 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, Thomas R. McCarthy, and J. Michael Connolly from the law firm of Consovoy McCarthy Park, PLLC. Mr. Consovoy and Mr. McCarthy are 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. Mr. Connolly previously clerked for Judge Jerome A. Holmes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
In addition to working 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 the Career and Academic Services Office.
For more information about the program's requirements, please see the Information Packet for the Legal Clinic - Supreme Court.
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 the credits awarded vary depending on the particular externship program.
Supervised Externship - Bankruptcy
In partnership with the law school, members of the Bankruptcy Bar in Northern Virginia, in conjunction with the Office of the U.S. Trustee, run a bankruptcy clinic to help individual consumers prepare for filing voluntary petitions and the other papers that must be filed to initiate a bankruptcy case. These will be individual consumers who cannot otherwise afford to engage and pay for an attorney to help them prepare the necessary papers. Students can participate in this program through a one-credit externship program. Students will conduct initial interviews of the individual consumers in order to identify for the attorneys the help the individuals need. Student have direct client contact and counseling and work side-by-side with experienced bankruptcy lawyers. The course will meet in the offices of the U.S. Trustee at 115 South Union Street, Suite 210, Alexandria, VA 22314 on the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month. Students must have previously taken a course in Bankruptcy Law or must receive permission of the instructor to participate. Special permission will be granted to students who have not taken Bankruptcy Law but have clerked for or otherwise worked for a bankruptcy lawyer or a bankruptcy judge. Students completing the course will receive one out-of-class credit and the course will be graded “CR/NC. The course is offered in the Fall, Spring, and 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 the Career and Academic Services Office 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.
Senior Associate Dean and Professor of Law David K. Rehr directs this program, determines individual placements, monitors students’ progress, and coordinates with field supervisors. 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 the Career and Academic Services Office. 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. Lecturer in Law Michael L. Davis 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 the Career and Academic Services Office and interview prior to registering for this program. Applications are available through the Career and Academic Services Office. 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.
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.