George William Van Cleve


Seattle University School of Law
901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
PO Box 222000
Seattle, WA   98122-1090


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


George William Van Cleve has taught at Loyola University Law School, Catholic University of America Law School, and American University Law School. At SU School of Law, he has taught Legislation and Regulation; Bankruptcy Law; Administrative Law; History of Early American Law; and Accounting and Finance for Lawyers. Previously, he taught at the University of Virginia, where his courses included History of Early American Law and "The Age of Jefferson."

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 (paperback ed., 2011). His current book, We Have Not a Government: The Articles of Confederation and the Road to the Constitution was published by the University of Chicago Press in October 2017. 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 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 formerly served as: Arbitrator, Attorney-Client Arbitration Board, District of Columbia Bar Association; and Court-appointed Mediator, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He is a member of the bar in: District of Columbia; Illinois (retired); and United States Supreme Court.