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Law and Economics Center

The George Mason Law & Economics Center is an integral part of George Mason University School of Law, an accredited institution of higher learning in the top tier of U.S. law schools. George Mason University is a state university, and the Law & Economics Center has been a recognized and customary provider of educational programs for judges since 1976.

More than 5,000 judges have attended a George Mason program or an official judicial program for which we provided academic speakers, including more than half of the present federal Article III bench. In recent years we have been honored by being asked to supply academic speakers for five federal circuit conferences and state court conferences in 27 states.

Our programs are theoretical, not tendentious; they are philosophical, not political. They are highly academic, and are taught by Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.

Our 2009 offerings include programs on The Founders, John Stuart Mill, and Abraham Lincoln. There are also programs on economics and science taught by people such as Marcia Angell of Harvard, Charles Goetz of the University of Virginia School of Law and Bill Landes of the University of Chicago Law School. Here are some other present or past George Mason lecturers: Donald Kagan, Jon Elster, Joe Ellis, Harvey Mansfield, James Q. Wilson, Jeremy Waldron, Michael Ignatieff, Alan Ehrenhalt, Larry Kramer, and eight Nobel Laureates.

We accept foreign judges in addition to U.S. judges at its programs. Five members of the U.S. Supreme Court, one member of the Canadian Supreme Court and four members of the Israeli Supreme Court have taken our programs or a program where we supplied academic speakers. We have also accepted judges from France, the Peoples Republic of China, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. We are a member of the International Organization for Judicial Training, and organized programs for Latin American judges in Buenos Aires in 2006, Brasilia in 2007, and Mexico City in 2008.

Here's what one participant, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said about our programs. "As a student in two seminars, I can affirm that the instruction was far more intense than the Florida sun. For lifting the veil on such mysteries as regression analyses, and for advancing both learning and collegial relationships among federal judges across the country, my enduring appreciation." (50 Case Western Reserve Law Review 351, 358.)

Our curriculum, faculty, invitation list and acceptance policy are determined solely by full time professors at George Mason University School of Law. Our contract letter with lecturers enjoins them to stay away from hot-button topics such as affirmative action. As well, our lecturers do not talk about tobacco, asbestos litigation, environmental issues or the like. When we discovered that a corporate donor had asserted in 1999 that they viewed us as key allies, we returned its contribution (about 0.003 of our support). Corporate support amounts to less than 10 percent of our budget and no one such donor provides more than 2 percent of our support.

Our reimbursement policy covers only reasonable expenses. We assume the costs of lodging and meals at the conference site (on average about $350 per diem), and also reimburse for travel expenses up to a maximum of $500. Spouses are welcome as auditors, but we do not reimburse for any of their expenses. We do not sponsor or subsidize any entertainment or recreational events at our programs, which are academically intensive and demanding. Shortly after each program, we send to all participating judges a statement of the dollar value of the hotel and meal expenses.