How Has George Mason University's Law School Done Since the Scalia Renaming Gift?

Pretty darn well, thank you.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

When my law school accepted a $30 million gift in spring 2016 conditioned on renaming the law school in honor of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, some predicted gloom and doom, that in today's environment naming a law school after an unreconstructed conservative jurist would drive away potential students. I didn't believe it, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say.

Our last entering class before the gift in fall 2015 had 159 matriculants, with a median LSAT of 161 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.59.

Our entering class this year has 151 matriculants, a median LSAT of 164 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.78.

There has been about a 15% increase in law school applications, so that helps. But the most telling and objective metric is how we are doing relative to local competitors. Our esteemed fellow state law school, William and Mary, reports that its entering class has a median LSAT of 163 and a median GPA of 3.6. Washington & Lee, another excellent law school out in Lexington, Va., reports a median LSAT of 163 and a median GPA of 3.63.

(Note that all these statistics are as of the beginning of the school year. Final numbers are not reported to the ABA until a bit later.)

NEXT: Supreme Court Won't Intervene (Yet) To Stop Abortion Pills From Being Prescribed Remotely

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. That’s excellent news for your law school!

    Now that the pudding has been eaten, I think their guesses were misguided. Yes, there are a lot of people who disagreed with Scalia much of the time (see also every other Supreme Court justice and public figure), but the factors that lead to boycotts on the basis of names were notably absent: he didn’t own slaves, he wasn’t well known as a segregationalist, and he did not engage in an obvious pattern of amoral behavior related to illicit sex, corruption, or something similarly grave. In other words, this naming does not invite the moral opprobrium that would make many people change decisions about their law school applications.

  2. What the heck is an unreconstructed conservative?

    1. A conservative who didn’t “grow in office.”

      1. Scalia spent 34 years as a federal judge, 30 of them on the Supreme Court.

        Call it “growing in office,” if you like, but if he really didn’t change any of his thinking over that time, which I doubt, I’d say that speaks poorly of him.

        1. Growing in office only occurs if you change your views to more liberal/progressive ones. If you become more conservative, you haven’t grown in office, you have become increasingly reactionary or some such.

        2. You’re confusing growing in office with “growing in office.”

          1. Either way, “growing in office” still sounds like potted plants under fluorescents. Likely pothos or philodendron.

    2. “…stubbornly maintaining earlier positions, beliefs, etc.; not adjusted to new or current situations: an unreconstructed conservative.”

      1. If Scalia was the best ever, why would he change?

  3. When most schools are competing for the politically correct crowd, naming yourself after one of the chief hobgoblins of the PC crowd provides a rare counter and makes yourself all the more valuable.

    1. GMU economics has followed a similar pattern for many years, hiring “undervalued” conservative and libertarian academics to be ranked well above expectations for their budget.

      1. The fact it is located in a very desirable place to live doesn’t hurt. I was driving through DC metro and one of the Virginia exits off I-95 must have had a 3 mile backup…no thanks.

        1. I remember when DC was a sleepy little town. Could get a cheap apartment a block away from the Capitol for a few hundred bucks. And in the summer is was deserted.

  4. I don’t recall doom and gloom, just how hilarious the original acronym for it was.

  5. And, of course, your law school is now named after a unreserved homophobe who spent about twenty years very bitter over the fact that he failed to keep gay people criminals in Texas.

    So I’m sure that’s a plus too.

    1. Feel better?

      1. Knowing that Scalia lost the culture war?

        Expecting that it is just going to get better for the liberal-libertarian mainstream, and worse for clingers, as America continues to improve against the preferences of conservatives?

        Yes.

  6. For those of us who went to law school in the days of the 800-scale LSAT, what do these numbers translate to?

  7. Our last entering class before the gift in fall 2015 had 159 matriculants, with a median LSAT of 161 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.59.

    Our entering class this year has 151 matriculants, a median LSAT of 164 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.78.

    There has been about a 15% increase in law school applications,

    So fundamentally you were (probably) more selective, which naturally results in higher GPA’s and LSAT scores.

    I’d say the quality of the applicant pool would be a better indicator of whether the naming would drive away applicants, which I would be surprised to see. You’d have to be pretty strongly, not to say irrationally, ideological to take GMU off your list because of the name.

    GMU likely has a bigger problem of that sort in the economics department.

  8. It has the opportunity to fill the void for an intellectually top notch and compelling alternative to the America hating, Marxist indoctrination of almost all other Top Tier Schools. It should spend time in its clinics, internships, and promotion of hiring to generate an army of patriotic lawyers. There are none in this country today.

    1. My research has demonstrated that 99% of people who criticize others for being “Marxist” have never read any of the guy’s work. It’s a catch phrase.

Please to post comments