George Mason University School of Law is located just a few miles from downtown Washington, D.C., the nexus for the creation of the world's most important legislation and jurisprudence.
During the past decade, the law school has been in the forefront of curricular innovation. Recognizing the rapid changes that are occurring in legal practice and the legal profession, George Mason has been a pioneer in providing its students with an unique curriculum that gives students correspondingly unique advantages in today's competitive employment market.
Intellectual Property Opportunities
The Washington, D.C., metropolitan area is an established center for the practice of intellectual property (IP) law, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (government headquarters for patents, trademarks, and copyright) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (which has sole appellate jurisdiction over patent cases) located minutes away from the law school. Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland represent the technology hub of the United States East Coast, offering students a wealth of opportunities for study and employment throughout the region.
Mason Law's intellectual property classes are taught by full-time and adjunct law faculty members who are exceptionally well qualified in their practice areas. Our IP adjunct faculty boasts a sitting Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; the Solicitor of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a former Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, a former Register of Copyrights, a former Examiner-in-Chief and Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences Administrative Judge, a former WIPO Director of Industrial Property law, former chief counsels of the principal subcommittees on intellectual property in the United States Senate and House of Representatives, and prominent practitioners from most of the leading intellectual property law firms in the Washington metropolitan area.
- The Intellectual Property LLM program draws on the law school's extensive existing resources to provide one of the most comprehensive, diverse programs of its kind among Washington-area and Virginia law schools, according to a GMU survey of law schools in this region. While the focus is patent law, significant offerings exist in the areas of copyright, trademark, and technology law.
- The Patent Law Track is for JD students who wish to develop a greater degree of specialization in that area.
- The Intellectual Property Law Concentration is for JD students who wish to develop some expertise in that area, but who also wish to pursue electives in a broad range of areas.
- The Practical Preparation of GMU Patent Applications is a legal clinic in which JD students write actual patent applications for inventions, working directly with the inventors.
- Mason Law offers a broad range of Intellectual Property Courses to its students.
- Each July the law school co-sponsors, along with Banner & Witcoff, Ltd., an annual conference entitled Hot Topics in Patent Law.
Law and Economics Opportunities
George Mason has assembled a distinctive, interdisciplinary faculty, many of whom hold doctorates in economics, philosophy, political science or related fields. The law school's curriculum integrates economic and quantitative tools, stressing the application of the non-legal methods in legal contexts.
- The LLM Degree in Law & Economics provides an opportunity to develop an expertise in the skills of economic analysis as they are applied to a variety of legal settings.
- The Legal and Economic Theory Concentration is for JD students who wish to develop some expertise in that area, but who also wish to pursue electives in a broad range of areas. Mason Law offers a broad range of Economics and Law Courses to its students.
- Students may participate on the Journal of Law, Economics & Policy, the first student-run journal of law and economics in legal academia. One issue each year is devoted to specialized symposia bearing on important questions of legal and economic policy.
- The law school's Moot Court Board hosts an extramural competition open to law schools nationwide, the Manne Moot Court Competition each year in February. The competition seeks to enhance law school students' understanding of the application of economic principles to legal problems.
- The law school, along with Microsoft®, presents an annual conference on The Law & Economics of Innovation
Center for Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security (CIP)
The Center for Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security 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 infrastructure.
Homeland and National Security Law Concentration
Our Homeland and National Security Law Concentration enables George Mason students who are interested in specializing in this field to present potential employers (both in government and in the private sector) with a credential that reflects a solid foundation in homeland and national security law. The Homeland and National Security Law Program is directed by Jamil N. Jaffer.
In addition, the law school's close relationship with the Center for Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security (see above) offers opportunities to supplement in-house expertise with outside and affiliated experts in homeland and national security law.
A Variety of Practical Experiences
The law school's location in Metropolitan Washington, D.C., gives Mason Law students unparalleled opportunities to gain substantial practical experience while in law school. Students work outside the classroom under the supervision of an attorney, receive exposure to various areas of practice, build basic lawyering skills, and obtain valuable networking ties while receiving credit for working in such places as federal and state courts, the Recording Industry Association of America, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Mason offers in-house field placement opportunities, as well:
- Domestic Relations—Assisted by a mentor, students represent clients in obtaining uncontested divorces or other domestic relations matters, preparing for interviews, court filings, and hearings.
- Virginia Practice—Under the supervision of a local judge, students intern in judges' chambers, public defenders' or Commonwealth Attorneys' office, legal aid, or a private law firm.
- Supreme Court—The year-long clinic provides students with the opportunity to provide pro bono legal representation before the United States Supreme Court, working closely with Wiley Rein LLP 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.
Mason provides students an alternative opportunity to earn credit while working on real cases with real clients, applying classroom experience in a practical setting:
- Law and Mental Illness—Students study the history and development of the laws affecting the mentally ill and prepare for and represent petitioners in civil commitment hearings.
- Patent Law—Students work directly with an inventor to draft an actual patent application for submission.
- Regulatory Law—While working with a mentor, students may engage in the federal regulatory process by analyzing active regulation and filing public comments.
- Legal Assistance to Servicemembers and Veterans—Students provide active-duty members of the armed forces and their families with free representation in civil cases of clear injustice or in which they could not retain counsel without undue hardship.