|Walter F. George School of Law|
|Location||Macon, Georgia, U.S.|
|Bar pass rate||73.3%|
The Walter F. George School of Law (previously Mercer University School of Law or Mercer Law School) is the professional law school of Mercer University. Founded in 1873, it is one of the oldest law schools in the United States and is the second oldest of Mercer's 12 colleges and schools. The School of Law has approximately 440 students and is located in Macon, Georgia on its own campus one mile (1.6 km) from Mercer's main campus. The law school building, one of Macon's most recognizable sites, is a three-story partial replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia and is located on Coleman Hill overlooking downtown Macon. According to Mercer's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 65% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.
Daisy Hurst Floyd was reappointed as dean in 2014. She assumed responsibility from Gary J. Simson, dean from 2010–14, who was elevated by Mercer to a university-wide position as senior vice provost for scholarship. Floyd previously served as dean from 2004–10 and is a senior member of the law school faculty. It was announced on March 16, 2017 that Cathy Cox, current president of Young Harris College, will take over as dean in July, 2017. She is an alumnus of Walter F. George School of Law, a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives and served two terms as Georgia's secretary of state, first in 1998 and again in 2002.
The School of Law is named for Walter F. George, Mercer Law class of 1901, who served as United States Senator from Georgia from 1922–57 and as President pro tempore from 1955-57. Before election to the Senate, he served as a Judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals in 1917 and as a Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court from 1917-22. Mercer named its law school the Walter F. George School of Law of Mercer University in 1947. Fred M. Vinson, Chief Justice of the United States, participated in the naming ceremony.
The Walter F. George Foundation, created when the school was named, continues to fund scholarships for Mercer law students who have a demonstrated interest in pursuing a career in public service. Walter F. George Foundation Public Service Scholarships cover full tuition for three years of law school along with community service grants for first-year and second-year summer public service internships.
The School of Law celebrated its centennial in 1973. The principal event occurred on November 18, 1973; participants included Richard Nixon, President of the United States and Jimmy Carter, Governor of Georgia and future President of the United States. In his speech, President Nixon announced the nation's third Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier would be named in honor of Carl Vinson, Mercer Law class of 1902. Vinson, who was present at the event, was the first member of the United States House of Representatives to serve for more than 50 years (he served 1914-65), and was the long-time chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Also present were Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird and Secretary of the Navy John Warner.
In the 2013 edition of its law school rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranks Mercer 105th among the nation's top 145 law schools. The same edition ranks Mercer's legal writing program third in the nation. The legal writing program has been ranked in the top three since US News & World Report began the speciality ranking in 2006.
The School of Law enrolls approximately 440 students and has a faculty of approximately 30 full-time professors and 30 adjunct professors. The following degrees are offered: Juris Doctor (JD), a joint Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration (JD/MBA) in conjunction with Mercer's Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics, and a Master of Laws (LLM) in Federal Criminal Practice and Procedure, which is the nation's only LLM program with this subject matter focus. The school publishes the Mercer Law Review, the oldest law review in Georgia (founded in 1949), and the Journal of Southern Legal History.
The School of Law's model curriculum, the Woodruff Curriculum, named for philanthropist George W. Woodruff, is viewed as a model for law schools across the United States. The curriculum, based on small classes and a practice oriented approach, focuses on legal ethics, professional responsibility, and legal writing and has been honored with the prestigious Gambrell Professionalism Award from the American Bar Association.
The School of Law houses the Mercer Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism, established in 2000 and dedicated to fostering and teaching ethics and professionalism in the practice of law, and the National Criminal Defense College, a not-for-profit organization established in 1985 and devoted to improved trial advocacy and trial practice.
The School of Law also houses the Legal Writing Institute, the world's largest organization devoted to improved legal writing. The Institute's 1,800 members represent attorneys, judges, and legal writing professors in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
The Furman Smith Law Library, named for Furman Smith, Mercer Law class of 1932, is the school's center of legal research. A premier facility, the library is used by lawyers and judges from across the state and recognized for its superior resources and service. The library occupies over 30,000 square feet (3,000 m2) in a central location on the second and third floors of the law school building. Large windows in the library provide students with views of historic Macon from the law building's location on Coleman Hill.
According to Mercer's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 65% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation. Mercer's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 22.3%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.
The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Mercer for the 2013-2014 academic year is $57,800. The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $214,493.
G. Harrold Carswell '48, Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and unsuccessful nominee to the United States Supreme Court, 1970.
John Oxendine '87, Georgia Insurance Commissioner, 1995-11.
Mercer alumni recently headed two of Georgia's three branches of government: Nathan Deal '66, was the Governor of Georgia, 2011–2019; Hugh P. Thompson '69, was the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, 2013–16. In the Georgia General Assembly, Judson H. Hill, Sr. '86, served until 2017 as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; William T. Ligon, Jr. '86, served as Chairman of the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee. M. Yvette Miller '80, Sara L. Doyle '94, and Michael P. Boggs '90 are judges of the Georgia Court of Appeals.
William Augustus Bootle Federal Building and United States Courthouse in Macon. Judge "Gus" Bootle '25, served as Judge of the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Georgia from 1954–81 and ordered desegregation of the University of Georgia in 1961. The building was named in his honor in 1998.
Homer and Ruth Drake Field House at Mercer University Stadium. Judge Drake '56, is a Senior Bankruptcy Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, 1979–present. He was chairman of the Mercer University Board of Trustees, 2008-10. The building was named in honor of Judge Drake and his spouse in 2012.