Antonin Scalia Law School – Wikipedia

Law school of George Mason University

The Antonin Scalia Law School (previously George Mason University School of Law[2]) is the law school of George Mason University, a public research university in Virginia. It is located in Arlington, Virginia, roughly 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Washington, D.C., and 15 miles (24 km) east-northeast of George Mason University’s main campus in Fairfax, Virginia.

U.S. News & World Report ranks the school 30th among American law schools, and it is the 3rd-highest-ranked law school in the Washington metropolitan area, behind Georgetown University Law Center and George Washington University Law School.[3] In 2017, the school had 525 students in its J.D., LL.M., JD/MBA, and JD/MPP programs. The median LSAT score among incoming J.D. students in 2020 was 164 and the median GPA was 3.78.[4] The passage rate for first-time takers of the Virginia bar exam in July 2021 was 92%, second among Virginia’s eight law schools.[5]



George Mason University School of Law was authorized by the Virginia General Assembly in March 1979 and was founded on July 1, 1979. The school had started as the “International School of Law” (ISL), which opened in 1972 in a classroom at the Federal Bar Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.[11][12] In 1973, it moved into the home of former United States Chief Justice Edward Douglass White on Rhode Island Avenue, and in 1975 purchased the old Kann’s Department Store in Arlington. Despite growth, ISL could never obtain accreditation. In 1976, it discussed a merger with George Mason University, which was interested in setting up a law school.[13] In 1978, the Virginia State Council of Education denied GMU’s proposal to start a law school and encouraged a merger with ISL instead.[14] Later that year, the Council advised against allowing that merger, but the Virginia state legislature nonetheless approved the merger in early March 1979.[15][16]

The school became fully accredited by the American Bar Association in 1986, but was still not widely known during the late 1980s.[17] Since then, however, its rankings have risen rapidly.[18]

In 2016, the school was offered $30 million to rename itself for Antonin Scalia, the late United States Supreme Court justice. The Charles Koch Foundation provided $10 million of the donation, and the remaining $20 million came from an anonymous donor.[19] On March 31, its Board of Visitors approved the deal. School officials soon announced that the new name would be “The Antonin Scalia School of Law”, but changed their minds after observers noted that this could be abbreviated “ASSLaw”. Several days later, school officials announced a new new name: Antonin Scalia Law School,[20] a decision ratified by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia on May 17.[21][22]


Some argue that American legal academia leans slightly liberal.[23] Antonin Scalia Law School has a reputation for conservative teaching which increased with the renaming in 2016 for Scalia, who was a conservative.[24] The Washington Post editorial board wrote that “university officials aren’t fooling anyone if they contend that naming the school after such a polarizing figure doesn’t give it an ideological brand.”[25] In 2019, the law school received a gift of $50 million, the largest ever received by the university, from the estate of Allison and Dorothy Rouse to “fund a chair or chairs that will promote the conservative principles of governance, statesmanship, high morals, civil and religious freedom and the study of the United States Constitution”.[24] The donation was conditioned on a requirement that the donor be notified of any change in the law school’s leadership.[25]

The Washington Post editorial board called the law school’s students and faculty “fairly…libertarian- and conservative-leaning”[25] Nevertheless, David Bernstein, a professor at the law school, wrote that in his experience “the average George Mason law school student — unlike the average faculty member — leans a bit to the moderate left.”[26] The Mason Law Democrats, an organization of liberal students at Antonin Scalia Law School, is currently inactive.[27]


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) for the 2017–18 academic year at Mason Law was $49,219 for in-state students attending full-time; the total cost of attendance for non-resident students attending full-time is $64,605.[28] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $179,567 for residents, and $234,586 for non-residents.[29] To combat the high cost of law school, George Mason’s Board of Visitors voted in 2013 to freeze tuition through the 2016–2017 academic year.[30]


Mason Law is somewhat distinctive in offering a wide variety of intense law tracks, each of which requires that about one-third of the credits for graduation be completed in the track, and law concentrations, which are elective specializations and have a less restrictive credit requirement as compared to the track program.[31] The law tracks include Litigation Law, Patent Law, and Regulatory Law.[32]

The law concentrations include Antitrust Law, Communications Law, Corporate and Securities Law, Criminal Law, Homeland & National Security Law, Immigration Law, Intellectual Property Law, International Business Law, Legal and Economic Theory, Litigation Law, Personal Law, Regulatory Law, Tax Law, and Technology Law.[33]

Also, the school has a Legal Research, Writing and Analysis (LRWA) curriculum. Mason Law requires its students to complete four semesters (two years) of LRWA coursework. Students acquire the necessary skills for trial and appellate practice. The first-year LRWA curriculum is taught by third-year (and fourth-year evening) law students under the guidance of full-time faculty. During the first semester, students learn how to conduct legal research and write a predictive memorandum, while during the second semester, students compete in intramural oral arguments while producing both predictive and persuasive memoranda. The second year of LRWA is taught by legal practitioners, and consists of Appellate Writing and Legal Drafting. Student transcripts bear a separate grade-point average (GPA) for LRWA and writing-intensive coursework in addition to the overall GPA. Students must successfully complete 89 credits to graduate.

First-year curriculum[edit]

In addition to two semesters (5 credits total) of LRWA, the first-year curriculum is filled with foundation courses. First-year day students cover the following legal foundation courses: Torts (4 credits), Contracts (5 credits), Property (4 credits), Civil Procedure (4 credits), Legislation and Statutory Interpretation (2 credits), and Criminal Law (3 credits). In addition, every student is required to complete one semester of “Economic Foundations of Legal Studies,” a basic economics course taught by distinguished economists. First-year students may not take any electives.

The first-year students are graded according to a mandatory 3.25 curve.

Second-year curriculum[edit]

In their second year of study, day students must complete a 4-credit Constitutional Law course and complete an additional 4 credits of LRWA. Students may select from a variety of upper-level electives in addition to these requirements.


According to George Mason’s official ABA-required disclosures, 71% of the Class of 2020 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[34] George Mason’s Law School Transparency under-employment score is 6.9%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2020 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.[35]

Law library[edit]

The George Mason Law Library has a collection of electronic and print materials providing access to legal treatises, journals, and databases. Non-legal materials are available through the GMU University Libraries. It is a selective depository for U.S. Government documents, and it provides interlibrary lending services with other academic libraries,[36] which enables students and faculty to borrow materials from major academic libraries. The library occupies four levels of the law school building. It has 14 study rooms, 70 carrel seats, and 196 table seats wired with electrical and network connections, and a wireless network is available. The library also operates 2 computer labs with a variety of software.[37] The library employs 16 full-time staff members, including 6 librarians with degrees in law and library science and 3 technology specialists.[38] Access is limited to university faculty, students, staff, alumni and members of the bar.[39]

Notable people[edit]


  • Jonathan H. Adler, American legal commentator and law professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law
  • John Bartrum, American lawyer and colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve
  • Robert Bixby, Executive Director of the Concord Coalition
  • Martha Boneta, American policy advisor, commentator, and farmer known for her role in the passage of a landmark right-to-farm law in Virginia
  • Anna Escobedo Cabral, Treasurer of the United States under President George W. Bush
  • Michael F. Cannon is director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute
  • James W. Carroll, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Donald Trump
  • Kathleen L. Casey, Commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  • John Critzos II, American martial arts fighter and instructor teaching martial arts at the United States Naval Academy and personal injury lawyer.
  • Katherine A. Crytzer, United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee
  • Ken Cuccinelli, Acting United States Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, 46th Attorney General of Virginia, former Member of the Virginia Senate from the 37th district
  • William W. Eldridge IV, American General District Court Judge for the 26th Judicial District of Virginia
  • David Jolly, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives
  • Colleen Kiko, Chairman of the United States Federal Labor Relations Authority under Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden
  • Chris Krebs, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency under President Donald Trump
  • Robert A. Levy, chairman of the Cato Institute and director of the Institute of Justice
  • Melissa A. Long, Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court
  • William W. Mercer, United States Associate Attorney General under President George W. Bush and member of the Montana House of Representatives
  • Kendrick Moxon, lead counsel for the Church of Scientology
  • Paul F. Nichols, former delegate to the Virginia General Assembly
  • Liam O’Grady, judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • Maureen Ohlhausen, former commissioner of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission
  • Scott Pinsker, American filmmaker, talk-show host, author and celebrity publicist
  • David J. Porter, judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • Steve Ricchetti, Counselor to the President under President Joe Biden
  • Wesley G. Russell Jr., Judge for the Virginia Court of Appeals
  • Harlan M. Sands, 7th President of Cleveland State University
  • Charles Stimson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs under President George W. Bush
  • Glen Sturtevant, member of the Senate of Virginia from 2016-2020
  • Mary Kirtley Waters, Director of the United Nations Information Centre
  • John Whitbeck, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia from 2015-2018
  • Mark Willis, American businessman, politician, and former United States Army counterintelligence agent
  • Richard L. Young, judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana



Professors from the Antonin Scalia Law School advocate with the federal government to expand copyright and reduce what the government asks from private corporations in return for public funding. In particular, they opposed a federal open-access mandate in 2020.[40]

Other Antonin Scalia Law School professors were criticised by lawmakers for their conflict of interest within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as they advocated for policies favorable to financial corporations which were also their paying clients.[41]

The Antonin Scalia Law School partially overlapped at times with the George Mason Environmental Law Clinic or Free Market Environmental Law Clinic, which merged with the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) (formerly the American Tradition Institute (ATI)), which is funded by the coal industry.[42][43][44]

Antonin Scalia Law School leadership in one occasion “admonished the professors for engaging in ‘irresponsible advocacy'” which had the goal to receive corporate donations in return for attacks on climate science.[19]




Clinics and externships[edit]

  • Arts & Entertainment Advocacy Clinic
  • Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (MVETS)[51]
  • Domestic Relations Supervised Externship & Legal Clinic
  • Law and Mental Illness Legal Clinic
  • Practical Preparation of Patent Applications
  • Supreme Court Clinic
  • Supervised Externship – Fall, Spring, Summer
  • Capitol Hill Supervised Externship
  • Virginia Practice Supervised Externship
  • Regulatory Comments Legal Practicum

Student organizations[edit]

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Society
  • American Constitution Society
  • American Inn of Court
  • Black Law Students Association
  • Business Law Society
  • Christian Legal Society
  • Communications Law Association
  • Environmental Law Society
  • Federalist Society
  • Honor Committee
  • Immigration Law Society
  • Intellectual Property Law Society
  • International Law Society
  • J. Reuben Clark Law Society
  • Jewish Law Students Association
  • Latino/a Law Student Association
  • Law Students for Reproductive Justice
  • Mason Law Democrats
  • Mason Law Sports and Entertainment Association
  • Military Law Society
  • Moot Court Board
  • Muslim Law Student Association
  • Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International
  • Phi Delta Phi (Lewis F. Powell Inn)
  • Running Along the Potomac
  • Student Bar Association
  • The Docket[52]
  • Thomas More Society
  • Trial Advocacy Association
  • VBA Pro Bono Society
  • Women’s Law Association


  1. ^ “George Mason University”. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  2. ^ Name change to Antonin Scalia School of Law:

    Name change to Antonin Scalia Law School:

  3. ^ “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on February 27, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ “Profile of the Fall 2020 Entering Class | Antonin Scalia Law School”. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  5. ^ “VBBE – Exam – Statistics”. Archived from the original on November 7, 2016. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  6. ^ “George Mason University”. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  7. ^ Sisk, Gregory; Aggerbeck, Valerie; Farris, Nick; McNevin, Megan; Pitner, Maria (December 4, 2017). “Scholarly Impact of Law School Faculties in 2015: Updating the Leiter Score Ranking for the Top Third”. SSRN 2642056.
  8. ^ “Best Law Schools 2016”. Archived from the original on September 2, 2015. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  9. ^ “World University Rankings 2020 by subject: law”. October 29, 2019. Archived from the original on November 29, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  10. ^ “Shanghai Ranking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2019 – Law”. Archived from the original on July 13, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  11. ^ “Board Backs School Merger”. The Evening Star. January 9, 1979.
  12. ^ “Antioch a new law approach”. The Evening Star. November 6, 1972.
  13. ^ “Before We Became Part of the Mason Family: The Story of the International School of Law”. Archived from the original on June 27, 2018. Retrieved June 27, 2018.
  14. ^ “Las School Affiliation”. The Evening Star. March 1, 1978.
  15. ^ Beck, Jody; Smith, Rodney (March 3, 1979). “Dalton Expected to Avoid Veto Battle With Legislature”. The Evening Star.
  16. ^ Evans, Ross (November 8, 1978). “Council Denies George Mason a Law School”. The Evening Star.
  17. ^ Kohn, D’Vera (November 4, 1984). “New Dean Brings Upheaval to Mason Law School”. Washington Post. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  18. ^ Adams, William H., III (1999). “The George Mason Experience”. Case Western Reserve Law Review. 50 (2): 431–43. Archived from the original on January 16, 2019. Retrieved January 30, 2020.
  19. ^ a b Stripling, Jack; Gluckman, Nell (December 18, 2019). “To Court a Secretive Donor, Law Deans at George Mason Blasted Climate Scientists and Their Own Accreditor”. The Chronicle of Higher Education. ISSN 0009-5982. Archived from the original on December 28, 2019. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  20. ^ Chappell, Bill (April 6, 2016). “Plan For Antonin Scalia School Of Law Is Tweaked Over Unfortunate Acronym”. Archived from the original on April 5, 2018. Retrieved April 4, 2018 – via
  21. ^ Svrluga, Susan (March 31, 2016). “George Mason law school to be renamed the Antonin Scalia School of Law”. The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on September 10, 2016. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  22. ^ Svrluga, Susan (May 17, 2016). “It’s official: George Mason’s law school is named in honor of Antonin Scalia”. Archived from the original on May 19, 2016. Retrieved May 23, 2016 – via
  23. ^ Bonica, Adam; Chilton, Adam; Rozema, Kyle; Sen, Maya (January 2018). “The Legal Academy’s Ideological Uniformity” (PDF). Journal of Legal Studies. 47 (1): 1–43. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 10, 2021. Retrieved April 7, 2021 – via Scholars at Harvard.
  24. ^ a b Barakat, Matthew (August 31, 2019). ‘Conservative’ String Attached to $50 Million Gift to George Mason University”. NBC4 Washington. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  25. ^ a b c “A polarizing name change at George Mason”. Washington Post. May 7, 2016. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  26. ^ Bernstein, David (May 12, 2016). “No, the student body at George Mason University’s law school is not ‘conservative’. Washington Post. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  27. ^ “Mason Law Democrats | Antonin Scalia Law School”. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  28. ^ School, Scalia Law. “Tuition and Costs – Scalia Law School”. Archived from the original on October 25, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  29. ^ “George Mason University, Finances”. Archived from the original on June 2, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  30. ^ “Visitors Freeze George Mason Law Tuition”. Archived from the original on January 6, 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  31. ^ School, Scalia Law. “JD Tracks and Concentrations – Scalia Law School”. Archived from the original on October 24, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  32. ^ School, Scalia Law. “Tracks – Scalia Law School”. Archived from the original on March 4, 2008. Retrieved February 28, 2008.
  33. ^ School, Scalia Law. “Concentrations (Elective Specializations) – Scalia Law School”. Archived from the original on April 30, 2014. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  34. ^ “Employment Summary for 2020 Graduates” (PDF). Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  35. ^ “George Mason University”. Archived from the original on February 18, 2016. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  36. ^ School, Scalia Law. “Borrowing from Other Libraries – Scalia Law School”. Archived from the original on November 18, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  37. ^ School, Scalia Law. “About the Library – Scalia Law School”. Archived from the original on November 12, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  38. ^ School, Scalia Law. “Staff Directory – Scalia Law School”. Archived from the original on January 13, 2013. Retrieved January 24, 2013.
  39. ^ “About the Library | Antonin Scalia Law School”. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  40. ^ CPIP (May 7, 2020). “IP Scholars File Comments with OSTP on Public Access to Scholarly Publications”. Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  41. ^ “Fox in the Henhouse: Koch-Backed Opponent of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Chairs Taskforce to Evaluate Its Regulations”. PR Watch. February 10, 2020. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  42. ^ Goldenberg, Suzanne; correspondent, US environment (May 9, 2012). “American Tradition Institute’s campaign against ‘environmental junk science’. The Guardian. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  43. ^ “Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports”. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  44. ^ “Bankruptcy Filing Shows Arch Coal Funding for Climate Denial Legal Group”. PR Watch. February 24, 2016. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  45. ^ “George Mason Law Review – Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University”. George Mason Law Review. Archived from the original on January 14, 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  46. ^ Civil Rights Law Journal. Archived from the original on August 27, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  47. ^ “George Mason International Law Journal”. Archived from the original on October 22, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  48. ^ “National Security Law Journal – Insightful scholarship advancing the exciting, evolving field of national security law”. Archived from the original on July 9, 2013. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  49. ^ “The Journal of Law, Economics & Policy – The online home of the Journal of Law, Economics & Policy”. Archived from the original on December 5, 2006. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  50. ^ School, Scalia Law. “Faculty Working Papers – Scalia Law School”. Archived from the original on March 8, 2013. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  51. ^ “Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic”. Archived from the original on March 4, 2017. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  52. ^ “The Docket”. The Docket. Archived from the original on June 29, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2017.

External links[edit]