A Testament to Legal Excellence
A new teaching courtroom dedicated to alumnus Thomas William George will inspire future generations of AUWCL students
By Deborah Taylor
From childhood, Caroline George Schaefer ’96 wanted to be a lawyer. Her role model was her father, Thomas William George ’70, a highly successful trial lawyer and passionate law enthusiast. She grew up understanding that law school offers a phenomenal education that enhances many careers.
“My father emphasized that legal skills and knowledge extend beyond the traditional courtroom practice into a variety of essential aspects of our communities, including business, education, and the arts,” Caroline explains. “They impower you to influence critical causes and positively contribute to areas of interest and passion. That really resonated with me.”
Schaefer shaped a legal career different from her father’s but equally fulfilling, beginning with work on transnational legal issues in Moscow and Vladivostok, Russia, and transitioning to specialization in securities and corporate and anti-corruption matters.
To celebrate her father’s illustrious career, recent 80th birthday, and their shared gratitude for their alma mater, Schaefer and her husband, David, have made a capital gift and continuing commitment to American University Washington College of Law to create the Thomas W. George Courtroom. This state-of-the-art teaching courtroom will strengthen AUWCL’s outstanding experiential opportunities while representing its namesake’s lifelong love of learning and quest for excellence.
“We want to ensure this exceptional facility continues to inspire the next generation of students as they prepare to take on today’s most pressing challenges,” Schaefer says.
“A beautiful structure is critically important in shaping the morale and attitude and sense of well-being of law students,” George adds.
He understands well what students need to be successful from a lifetime brimming with rich and diverse experiences as a law student, practicing attorney, and bioethics professor.
“Everything has been possible because of my degree from Washington College of Law,” he says.
George is board certified in civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has attained the highest Martindale-Hubbell rating of “AV,” awarded to only the top five percent of all U.S. lawyers, in both legal ability and ethical standards. A Master of the Bench of the American Inns of Court, the premier international law mentoring society, he served on the State Bar of Texas Continuing Legal Education Committee and in local government. He has also traveled extensively to study the legal systems in Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand, and Germany, with emphasis on the Nuremberg trials.
Currently, George serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus, where he teaches a continuing seminar on medical jurisprudence, constitutional law, and public health policy. In addition to his J.D., he earned an L.L.M in health law from the Houston Health Law and Policy Institute and a doctorate in medical humanities/bioethics from the University of Texas Medical Branch. He is a voting member of the Institutional Review Boards of the University of Texas and the new Dell Medical School at UT-Austin, Ascension Seton Hospital, and hospital ethics and palliative care committees.
George began his career teaching college-level courses in genetics, evolution, and anatomy, but the influence of his childhood mentor, the town lawyer in his hometown of Sheridan, Wyoming, inspired him to change his career path. When he took his first Trial Practice class, he knew he had found his calling.
“At AUWCL, I clerked at top-line law firms and worked with some of the Senate committees, so I was able to combine a great legal education and also be at the political center of the country,” he says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better legal education with the experience of living in Washington at that time.”
George’s advice to today’s law students? “It’s important to get into an area of law practice that is meaningful to you. Try your hardest to do something you believe in.”
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