The Free Speech Clinic is a two-semester long (fall and spring), graded class, with two credits awarded each semester. Students work to identify cases of interest, interview clients, research legal issues, draft motions and memoranda, and all other aspects of litigation. Following are some examples of matters the Clinic has worked on:
- Reducing Restrictions on Demonstrations on Public Property
- Defending Student Expression on Public and private College Campuses
- Providing Access to Improperly Sealed Judicial Records
- Preventing Punishment for Criticizing a Police Officer
Students accepted into the Clinic receive weekly classroom instruction by the Clinic Fellow and Director, as well as regular guest speakers, on a wide array of contemporary free speech issues. These visitors include scholars, experts, practitioners, and participants in free speech cases. Students learn about procedural and substantive issues relevant to their cases, federal and state court decisions, and developments in First Amendment law. Click here to see a list of past Clinic speakers.
Students are selected to participate in the Clinic through an application process prior to class registration. To be eligible, students must submit a 500-word statement of interest, resume, and law school transcript. Preference is given to students who have completed Constitutional Law I. There are no prerequisites.
What students say about the Clinic:
“I choose this clinic because I had an interest and passion for free speech, and I wanted to build that passion into an expertise and practical experience in the field. I have been blown away by the guests we’ve had, the cases we’ve studied, and the cases we’ve worked on. It’s been [an] incredibly rewarding experience to work with the attorneys engaging in real cases throughout the year.” Liam, Scalia Law ‘21
“I originally applied to be in the Free Speech Clinic because I thought a clinic would be a great way to apply what I have learned in my first two years of law school to (real-world] issues. I was not a free speech “junkie,” but I found cases like New York Times v. Sullivan interesting, and thought the Free Speech Clinic would allow me to delve deeper into the subject. Throughout this year in the class, I have certainly delved deeper into free speech case law and learned the many different aspects of free speech–from the freedom of the press to the freedom to peaceably assemble. This clinic has allowed me to explore an area of law that I was not necessarily focused on prior to joining the clinic. Fortunately for me, free speech is a complex and intriguing area of law that I have enjoyed reading and learning about all year. Maddie, Scalia Law ‘20
“George Mason’s Free Speech Clinic was the best elective course I took while in law school. The opportunity to gain real-world practice experience while researching essential legal questions surrounding constitutionally protected free speech was truly an amazing experience … In sum, this course left me feeling much more prepared for professional practice and encouraged me to pursue a career working on issues related to free speech and the First Amendment. ” Ed, Scalia Law ’19