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Partnership to Give Students Supreme Court Experience

By Jason Jacks on October 24, 2011

This fall, Mason’s School of Law is partnering with the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Wiley Rein to launch a Supreme Court Clinic. The program will offer pro bono legal representation for clients attempting to have their cases heard by the high court.

Over two semesters, a dozen law students will work alongside Wiley Rein attorneys, learning the ins and outs of Supreme Court litigation. Leading the program are two Mason law school alumni and Wiley Rein appellate lawyers, William S. Consovoy, JD ’01, and Thomas R. McCarthy, JD ’01. Consovoy was once a clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, and McCarthy clerked at the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District.

Consovoy says the cases the students will be assisting on will run the gamut, including those involving civil and criminal law. And the students will have a say in which cases they take on.

“We want them to do things they are excited about,” he says.

With the promise of working hands-on with real cases, the clinic is designed for advanced students, according to McCarthy. “Many of them will be a year away from graduating,” he says. “We received 50 applications, and we accepted 12 students—these are high-caliber students.”

High pressure, yes. But according to Daniel D. Polsby, dean of the School of Law, this is what these future attorneys signed up for.

“Our students eagerly seek field experiences,” he says, “and this program will give them new opportunities to observe and participate in the business of the highest court in the land.”

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