Opened during the Reconstruction Era in Macon, Georgia, the Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law (Mercer Law) is one of the oldest law schools in the nation. Today, the law school sits atop of Coleman Hill on the Macon skyline in a replicate of Independence Hall, the Philadelphia building where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Mercer has a long tradition of emphasizing small class sizes and a practical approach to education. Despite its notably large student body (approximately 440 enrolled students), Mercer Law still maintains a faculty to student ratio of 7 to 1. Mercer Law’s alumni include Griffin Bell, the former U.S. Attorney General, and Nathan Deal, the former governor of Georgia whose term ended in 2019.
The Mercer Law Juris Doctor program follows the “Woodruff Curriculum”, named for philanthropist George W. Woodruff who donated $15 million to the law school in order to ensure the school’s mission of smaller class sizes and an emphasis on practical skills. The first-year curriculum at Mercer Law begins with a unique course that introduces students to the principles of the legal education in a one-week intensive. After completing this course, students engage in both traditional academic courses and innovative skill-based learning. In their first two semesters, students take core courses in civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. In their first semester, students take a unique course covering jurisdiction and judgment. as well as an introductory course to the skill of legal research. In their second semester, students begin learning the fundamentals of legal writing while also taking an innovative class that covers the legal profession.
During their second year, students are required to take a course in constitutional law, evidence, and statutory law and analysis. On the practical side, all students take a second course in legal writing as well as a course on the fundamentals of counseling. In their final year, students are also introduced to the principles of dispute resolution.
Aside from completing a total of 89-course hours, students must complete a number of additional substantive and practical courses as part of the Woodruff Curriculum. Students take courses in experiential learning, an advanced writing requirement, and a bar preparation course (for students below a minimum GPA). Mercer Law also strongly recommends students complete a course in perspectives and an administrative law.
Juris Doctor candidates at Mercer may also earn a certificate in advanced legal writing, research, and drafting. This program prepares students to master the most complex legal writing tasks through a series of advanced, skill-based writing courses.
In conjunction with Mercer University’s Stetson-Hatch School of Business, Mercer Law offers a joint degree program that allows students to earn both their Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration in as few as three years. Leveraging the M.B.A.’s flexible evening format, students complete 30 hours of course work that is counted towards both degrees. This provides students with a unique understanding of how business and law intersect.
In lieu of a joint degree, students may opt for a certification from the business school. This certificate–while not as rigorous as a joint program–grounds students in the fundamentals of finance or practice management. Students complete a total of nine credit hours to earn the certificate.
Third-year students at Mercer Law also have a unique opportunity to spend a semester in Atlanta practicing law while taking courses on Mercer Law’s Atlanta campus. This program immerses students in the legal and financial center of Georgia, providing them with a unique opportunity to put their classroom work into practice.
Students who wish to study abroad may also take advantage of Mercer Law partnership with the Stetson University College of Law which offers multiple international programs in Asia, Europe, or South America.
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent employment data, nearly 90% of all graduates of Mercer Law find long-term, full-time employment within 10 months of graduation. Over half of all graduates opt for work in traditional law firms. Most graduates–almost one-third of all graduates–found employment in law firms with less than 25 attorneys. Almost 20% of graduates chose to work in government offices while another 8% opted for work in the public interest sector. Mercer Law also has had tremendous success in securing judicial clerkships. More than 10% of the most recent graduating class was able to secure a judicial clerkship in either the federal or state courts. Over 80% of all graduates remain in the state of Georgia to begin their careers.
The goal of the Mercer Law Career Services Office (CSO) is to ensure that every student finds a meaningful career that fulfills students’ professional goals. To achieve this, the CSO provides individual counseling with each student to help plan their professional strategy. The CSO also provides a number of networking and professional events that allow students to build deep connections with alumni, practicing attorneys, and potential employers. The CSO works with employers year-round to provide students with a number of long-term and summer employment options. The CSO also has a three-year professional development plan that prepares students to transition from law school to their professional careers.
Mercer Law has one of the most extensive experiential education programs in the country. Starting in their first semester, students are grounded in the fundamental skills of practicing law as part of the school’s innovative Woodruff Curriculum. Students take skill-based courses in every semester of their education including courses in research and writing, alternative dispute resolution, counseling, and professionalism. During their second or third-years, students may participate in Mercer Law’s externship program that places students in external field offices to work in a wide range of legal practice areas.
In their final year, Mercer Law students participate in the capstone of their experiential education by working in one of the law school’s in-house legal clinics. Students have the ability to practice law during their third year in the school’s public defender clinic. Students spend 14 hours per week in the public defender’s office while also attending an intense weekly seminar where faculty members answer questions and guide students as they master their practice areas.
Mercer Law requires residential coursework for its academic programs.
Student Life at Mercer Law is designed to welcome all students into a supportive atmosphere where they can thrive academically as well as build lasting relationships. Mercer Law offers over two dozen student organizations where students can gather to celebrate their ethnicities or explore diverging viewpoints. The larger university offers students a range of health, wellness, and recreational facilities. Mercer has a notable program for intramural sports and an outdoor adventure program that are both available to law students.
Located 45 minutes south of Atlanta, Macon is a quintessential Southern town. Surrounded by forests, the town sits on the banks of the beautiful Ocmulgee River which runs just blocks from the law school campus. The busy town offers a range of convenient and affordable housing options as well as a remarkable amount of life. Macon is the home to the Allman Brothers Band Museum and is still a hotbed for music. The town is full of unique restaurants and breweries offering students a high quality of life away from campus.