Although George Mason offers a number of structured specialization options, students are not required to specialize in their legal studies. Many students enter law school without a clearly defined area of interest. Those students may pursue a general course of study, choosing electives as their interests develop.
JD Course Requirements
All George Mason law students, whether pursuing a specialty track or the General Law Program, are required to satisfactorily complete 89 credit hours for graduation. Forty of those credit hours are in general courses; the remaining credit hours are in elective courses. In addition, students must complete the School of Law's writing requirement.
For information on individual courses, see Course Descriptions.
Students attending George Mason University School of Law may pursue full-time day study or part-time evening study. Unlike many other law school programs, the day and evening programs stand on equal footing, as the courses taught in the day and evening divisions are identical.
The practice of law grows more segmented as the body of law grows in both volume and complexity. Our specialization options ensure that our graduates can demonstrate depth as well as breadth in their legal education and that they are prepared for practice in the 21st century.
For students who would like greater freedom in their course selection while also gaining the benefits of some degree of specialization, George Mason offers law concentrations listed below. To complete a law concentration, a student must earn from 14 to 16 credit hours in a particular area.
- Antitrust Law Concentration
- Communications Law Concentration
- Corporate and Securities Law Concentration
- Criminal Law Concentration
- Homeland and National Security Law Concentration
- Intellectual Property Law Concentration
- International Business Law Concentration
- Legal and Economic Theory Concentration
- Litigation Law Concentration
- Personal Law Concentration
- Regulatory Law Concentration
- Tax Law Concentration
- Technology Law Concentration
For more information, see Law Concentrations.
Through our specialty law tracks, students may acquire a sophisticated understanding of particular substantive areas of the law usually gained only after years of practice or through advanced legal study. Students pursuing a specialty track will be required to take 24 to 31 credit hours of the 89 total credit hours required for graduation in the area of specialization. Students in track programs are also required to write a thesis.
Students may elect to pursue one of the following specialty tracks at the end of their first year of study:
For more information, see Law Tracks.
George Mason University School of Law offers an intensive three-year legal writing program to prepare its students for the practical demands in the practice of law. In the first year, students are introduced to both enacted law and common law, learn a variety of research methodologies using both print and electronic database resources, learn the art of analyzing legal concepts, and the practical skills of presenting this research and analysis in a coherent, organized, and logical written product. Students begin writing objective legal memoranda in the first semester, and then progress to the art of persuasive writing through a trial level problem, where students are required to write both pre-trial pleadings and trial memoranda. At the end of the second semester, students engage in oral argument before local practitioners and judges.
In the third semester, students continue developing and refining their research, analytical, and writing skills by working through an appellate problem at the federal appellate level. Students research and prepare a partial appellate brief for an appellant and a complete appellate brief according to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure for the Appellee. Students also engage in oral argument before legal practitioners. In the fourth semester, students are introduced to corporate and transactional work, including drafting contracts and corporate resolutions, performing due diligence, and forming corporate entities. Students also engage in a contract negotiation with practicing attorneys.
The LRWA Program at George Mason also requires at least two additional writing courses beyond the first two years. For those students in the general law track, the additional writing requirement can be satisfied by taking either two 400- or 600-level seminar courses or one 400-/600-level seminar and one “Writing” course (designated by a (W) following the title of the course). Students in the specialty track programs use their theses and other required courses to fulfill the upper-level writing requirements.
For more information, see LRWA.
In 1996, the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar drafted a proposal identifying the basic areas of knowledge that are important to a sophisticated legal education and to the development of a competent attorney. Two are of particular interest to us:
- A sound grounding in economics, particularly elementary microeconomic theory;
- Some basic mathematical and financial skills, including an ability to analyze financial data.
George Mason has integrated these disciplines into our law and economics-oriented curriculum. Our curriculum introduces students to legal methods along with economic and quantitative tools, stressing the application of the nonlegal methods in legal contexts. We reinforce this strategy in other courses at the School of Law that are taught by professors of law who are also experts in some areas of economics and quantitative methods.
George Mason is proud of the academic centers located at the School of Law. Through these centers, we bring extraordinary talent into our law school and enhance our existing programs. These centers also create a strong network in various areas of law that greatly benefits our students as they explore the multitude of career opportunities available to them.
Founded in 1974, the Law & Economics Center (LEC) is a vital component of George Mason University School of Law. The LEC has developed an international reputation for its outstanding educational institutes, seminars, and conferences for federal and state court judges.
The Critical Infrastructure Protection Program seeks to fully integrate the disciplines of law, policy, and technology for enhancing the security of cyber-networks, physical systems, and economic processes supporting the nation's critical infrastructures.
The Information Economy Project seeks to promote quality academic research and sophisticated debate on public policy issues in the Information Economy. These involve, among other topics, how governments regulate communications networks; the role of antitrust in software, computer chips and online services; the effect of media content controls; and how intellectual property (IP) rules are challenged by the advent of innovative technologies.
The Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP) at George Mason University School of Law is dedicated to the scholarly analysis of intellectual property rights and the technological, commercial and creative innovation they facilitate.