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As Seen by the Dean

photo of Dean Young

Law School in the Nation’s Capital

All over the country, students newly admitted to GW Law School ask me: “Why GW Law?” My first words in response: “Washington, Washington, Washington.”

Our advantageous location in the heart of the nation’s capital energizes the life of the Law School on every level. In this issue of GW Law School magazine you have a glimpse into the dynamic and energizing effect our location has upon the events and extraordinary vitality of your Law School today.

I say, “Washington, Washington, Washington,” because Foggy Bottom invigorates this Law School in not one but three unique ways:

First, Washington brings to our campus a truly remarkable range of people who re-imagine American life and who develop and change American law. Five of the nine Supreme Court justices have joined GW Law in the past two years alone. Justice Samuel Alito presided over final argument in our 2007 Van Vleck Moot Court Competition, as did Chief Justice John Roberts in 2006. Justices Ruth Ginsberg, Steven Breyer, and Antonin Scalia also recently have engaged GW students, in and out of the classroom.

Former President Jimmy Carter visited GW just this March, as did former Vice President Al Gore—fresh from the Academy Awards! The former vice president gave the keynote address at the National Environmental Law Society conference that we were privileged to host. Distinguished federal judges Richard Leon and James Robertson, LLB ’65, judged our Van Vleck semifinals, while Judge Ricardo Urbina presided over the final trial of our Cohen and Cohen Mock Trial Competition.

Being situated in the capital means our students do more than read about the men and women who shape America. They meet them.

Second, Washington offers our students a unique array of employment opportunities: not only during the academic year and in summers, but also as they begin their professional careers upon graduation. GW Law students are represented significantly throughout the public sector—from Capitol Hill to administrative agencies to the Department of Justice. We are delighted that one-tenth of our graduating class will serve as judicial clerks in federal and state courts. We are particularly proud of the four GW Law students who have been selected as Supreme Court clerks in the past three years.

Our success in the public sector is all the more impressive considering our achievements in the private sector. A new survey conducted by the National Law Journal reports the percentages for law school graduates who gain employment at the nation’s 250 largest firms. GW Law placed well within the top 20. Even more extraordinary: Measured in absolute numbers, our law school is eighth in the nation at producing young lawyers who proceed to the nation’s largest firms. Though GW Law students are educated in Washington, they emigrate to almost every state to serve in a wide variety of public and private positions.

Finally, Washington, D.C., is not only the seat of this country’s government, it also is the crossroads of international law and relations. Our students have unique opportunities to engage with members of the State Department’s Legal Adviser’s Office and prominent figures in the international community, including officials at the World Bank and ambassadors from several nations. Our India Project has received such wide recognition for its work in intellectual property law that India’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs recently requested the chance to engage GW’s faculty in the process of rewriting Indian corporate law. I myself had the opportunity to travel to China this past March to explore new collaborative opportunities between China and GW Law. I learned firsthand the reach of our alumni in China, including both JD and LLM graduates. These exploratory initiatives continue.

For all these reasons and more, and with just pride, I tell our prospective students, “There is no better place to study law than in Foggy Bottom, at The George Washington University.” The legal education provided here combines all the advantages of living and studying law in Washington with all the privileges of studying with our full-time faculty of gifted scholars and teachers, and our superb adjunct faculty, the finest in the nation. Student access to our remarkable adjunct faculty is yet another advantage of being in Washington, D.C.

As you read this issue of the alumni magazine, learning about all that is happening now at your Law School, I invite you to find new ways to remain a part of what is happening and to re-connect with us. Our alumni help in so many ways. Your financial support is critical to our success. Your interest in hiring our graduates is crucial to continuing our excellent placement. Your readiness to reach out to newly admitted students ensures that we will bring in yet another extraordinarily qualified first-year class. In all these ways, we at the Law School, faculty members and students alike, are the grateful beneficiaries of your generosity.

It is no overstatement to say that we could not do what we do without your substantial support. Nor is it an overstatement to say that together, there is no limit on what we can yet achieve at our Law School.

Frederick M. Lawrence
Dean and Robert Kramer Research Professor of Law