Sullivan Hall 140-C
(206) 398-4201


J.D., cum laude, Harvard Law School
Ph.D., History, University of Virginia

George William Van Cleve

Research Professor in Law and History


George William Van Cleve has taught at Loyola University Law School, Catholic University of America Law School, and American University Law School. He will teach Bankruptcy Law and Administrative Law during Fall 2013 and be in residence during Spring 2014. Beginning in January, 2014, he will also be Visiting Professor (Hon.), School of History, University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom, and Senior Research Fellow (Hon.), Leverhulme Trust project on seventeenth century British multinational companies, London, United Kingdom. Previously, he taught at the University of Virginia, where his courses included History of Early American Law; the Age of Jefferson; and The Law and Politics of Early American Slavery.

Dr. Van Cleve's book A Slaveholders' Union: Slavery, Politics and the Constitution in the Early American Republic, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2010. He is working on a book about the collapse of the Confederation, 1783-86. His publications also include more than a dozen law journal and encyclopedia articles and book chapters on various topics, including constitutional, criminal, bankruptcy, insurance, and environmental law, and legal history.

Dr. Van Cleve has more than thirty years of legal practice experience. In private practice, he represented clients in large-scale intellectual property licensing, contract, insurance, employment discrimination and civil rights class action, environmental and antitrust litigation. He advised a specialty risk underwriters group for a global insurer on several dozen matters. He argued seven federal appeals, including an en banc appeal, and supervised or assisted in briefing numerous other appeals. He has served as an arbitrator or mediator in more than a dozen disputes.

Dr. Van Cleve has served in various senior federal government legal positions, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice (Environment & Natural Resources Division) (1989-1991); Special Counsel to the Secretary of Defense (1989); Chief Minority Counsel, House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran (1987). At the Department of Justice, Dr. Van Cleve supervised the litigation of several hundred civil enforcement cases by a staff of 150 prosecutors. He managed the day-to-day litigation of the Exxon Valdez oil spill case, involving a civil claim of about $1 billion. He successfully defended the United States' criminal indictment of Exxon Corporation. He also managed the litigation of the Florida Everglades water pollution case.

Dr. Van Cleve has served as: Arbitrator, Attorney-Client Arbitration Board, District of Columbia Bar Association (inactive); Court-appointed Mediator, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (inactive). He is a former Member, American Arbitration Association National Roster of Neutrals (Commercial Arbitration and Mediation Panels). He is a certified neutral, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington. He is a member of the bar in: State of Washington; District of Columbia (inactive); Illinois (inactive); and United States Supreme Court.