The Lawyer as Policy-Maker
Founded in 1997, the Legislative Clinic is one of only a handful of law school clinical programs in the nation devoted exclusively to legislative lawyering and the formation of public policy. The Clinic combines federal legislative fieldwork in Congress with a classroom seminar involving academic readings, simulations, guest speakers, and legislative drafting exercises.
Students fulfill their legislative placements by spending two full days per week at the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Finance Committee, Senate Select Committee on Aging, House Judiciary Committee, House Budget Committee, House Subcommittee on Courts, The Internet and Intellectual Property, House Committee on Homeland Security, and in the offices of individual senators and representatives from around the nation. Students may also choose to do their legislative fieldwork at national non-profit organizations seeking legislative change.
In their field work, students engage in a broad range of legislative activity, including
- Drafting proposed legislation
- Preparing legislators and staff for important committee hearings and meetings with lobbyists
- Conducting research and analysis in order to develop legislative solutions to public policy issues and individual constituent concerns
Through the combination of classroom and field work, students gain a deeper understanding of federal and state legislative process, legislative drafting, theories of statutory interpretation, constitutional restrictions on lawmaking, legislative advocacy, lobbying accountability and disclosure, and ethical issues confronting legislative lawyers – and they have a unique opportunity to be directly involved with some of the most important public policy issues of our time.