Legislation Clinic

UC Hastings College of the Law, consistent with its commitment to public interest law, offers students a legislation clinic in Sacramento that provides an in-depth systematic study of the legislative process from a practical as well as an academic perspective. This program is available to students attending other University of California law schools as well as other selected private law schools.* Students in the Legislation Clinic work for a legislator who is a lawyer, a legislative committee staffed by a lawyer, a selected public entity involved with the legislative process and principally staffed by lawyers. A typical field placement might involve working for a committee like the Assembly Committee on the Judiciary or Senate Committee on Environmental Quality, or with the office of the Legislative Counsel. Students learn about statutory lawmaking and observe/participate in the lawyer’s role in legislative process by assisting in crafting, analyzing, and promoting legislation, and by attending related activities such as committee hearings and floor sessions.

A benefit of this clinic is that placements are pre-arranged in accordance with the student’s interest, although a student may arrange for a placement if approved by the clinic director.

This program supplements a student’s initial exposure to the subject of statutory law gained in the student’s first-year statutory course. It enhances the student’s basic knowledge of the legislative process and related issues the student gained by taking legislation as a first-year statutory course and/or the legislative process course, a prerequisite for enrolling in the program. The program provides students with a comprehensive exposure to the dynamic aspects of the legislative process, the means by which statutory law is created. Through hands-on participation, a student can hone the lawyering skills of research, writing, analyzing, negotiating, and advocating. These skills are an integral part of a legislative practice, as well as a traditional practice of law.

The legislation clinic is reinforced by course work consisting of an advanced legislative process and bill-drafting seminar. This concurrent seminar provides an academic focus to the legislation clinic. In addition to developing skills, the program exposes its participants to the making of statutory law thereby providing insight regarding how law is determined in our legal system and the inter-relationship between statutory law and decisional law developed by the courts.

The program, only offered in spring semesters when the legislature is in session, starts on the first Monday in January and is completed by the end of April. The program consists of a legislation clinical placement and concurrent enrollment in a legislative process seminar and bill-drafting course.

Enrollment in all of the following is required:

  • Legislation Clinic
  • Advanced Legislative Process

Clinical:
Class enrollment limit: 12 students

The centerpiece of the legislation program is a field placement with either the legislature or a public entity involved in the legislative process. Clinic students earn 6, 8 or 10 units of fieldwork credit by working 24, 32 or 40 hours per week for a minimum of 12 weeks as interns for a legislator who is a lawyer, a legislative committee staffed by a lawyer, or a selected public entity involved with the legislative process and principally staffed by lawyers. Different placements require different time commitments.  Each student is directly supervised by a legislative practitioner who is an attorney, and through the weekly supervision of the instructor. While a pre-arranged field placement is offered, a student may arrange for the student’s own placement if approved by the instructor.

A student who participates in the program will observe the legislative process first-hand by attending committee hearings and floor sessions and assisting in the crafting and promotion of legislation. In doing so, a student has the opportunity to develop specific lawyering skills. These skills include legal research and writing through bill drafting, amendment, and analysis; negotiations, by participating in ‘working a bill” through the legislative process and dealing with the various interests present when a bill is considered by the legislature; and advocacy by engaging in the coalition building necessary to promote legislation by appearing before legislative forums, including legislative committees.

In addition to developing these skills, the clinical experience will provide the student with insight about how law is determined in our legal system and the inter-relationship between statutory law, the principal source of law in our legal system, and decisional law developed by the court, the principal focus of contemporary legal education.

As part of the fieldwork experience, a student is also required to observe and at times participate, in a range of legislative activities. These activities include attending a policy committee hearing, a fiscal committee hearing, a budget subcommittee, a conference committee, an investigative hearing, a press conference, and an administrative agency rule adoption proceeding.

Each student is required to keep a journal that outlines fieldwork assignments, summarizes daily activities connected to the placement, reports on each of the required activities, comments on the legal and procedural issues, and generally addresses the clinical experience.

A field placement is limited to an internship with a legislator who is an attorney, a legislative committee staffed by at least one lawyer, or a selected public entity (for example, the Legislative Counsel) connected to the legislative process and principally staffed by lawyers.

Placements change from session to session. Previous placements have included:

  • Legislative Counsel
  • Governor’s Office
  • President Pro Tempore of the Senate
  • Senate Committee on Business and Professions
  • Senate Committee on Environmental Quality
  • Senate Committee on Education
  • Senate Committee on Insurance
  • Speaker of the Assembly
  • Assembly Committee on Business and Professions
  • Assembly Committee on Human Services
  • Assembly Committee on the Judiciary
  • Assembly Committee on Natural Resources
  • Assembly Committee on Public Safety
  • Selected investigating committees
  • Individual legislators who are attorneys

The student’s credit is determined by the evaluation of the attorney who supervised the student and the student’s completed journal.

Advanced Legislative Process

Prerequisite:  Concurrent enrollment in the Legislation Clinic.
Class sessions: Initially meets for two hours, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday , during the month of January. Subsequently, two-hour seminars twice a month.
Units of credit: 3.
Class enrollment limit: 12 students.

The legislative experience the student gains in the clinical placement will be enhanced by required participation in an advanced legislative process seminar. The seminar will provide each student with the opportunity to reflect on the student’s experience, share the experience with other clinical participants, and explore both issues arising out of the legislative process, and substantive issues of law connected to specific legislation that is a focus of the student’s clinical placement. The seminar will also address the jurisprudence/”legisprudence” of statutory law and the legislative and judicial cultures; the allocation of power to enact and interpret statutes and constitutional provisions; parliamentary law and the legislative rules of procedure (including issues of justiciability); the investigative power of legislatures; the regulation of participants and ethics; the relevance of administrative law to statutory law; and the budget process and related legal issues. Other topics will be added during the semester based on student interest and the issues of the particular legislative session. Guest speakers who are participants in the legislative process will be a key element of the seminar.

The seminar also focuses on the professional skills necessary for competent legislative research and writing skills connected to bill drafting. This is accomplished by studying time-honored literature on the subject (from Legislative Drafting by Dickerson to more contemporary sources such as Legal, Legislative, and Rule Drafting in Plain English by Martineau and Salerno). The course includes ‘hands on” practice of bill and amendment drafting the student undertakes as part of the student’s clinical placement and also in the form of assigned drafting exercises. Legislative practitioners and an instructor with years of experience drafting statutes will supervise these drafting activities.

Each student will be responsible for participating in all seminars and will be specifically responsible for making periodic presentations regarding the student’s clinical experience. A student will be graded based on class attendance and participation, and a presentation/paper to the seminar on a selected topic relating to the legislative session.

*Non-UC Hastings students

This program is offered to students enrolled at selected law schools. A student who is accepted into the program will concurrently be accepted to UC Hastings College of the Law for the semester that the student is in the program. Credits for the courses will be transferred to the student’s home institution. It is the student’s responsibility to obtain approval from the student’s home institution to enroll at UC Hastings and participate in the Legislation Clinic.

Inquiries:

For further information concerning the program email Professor Boyer-Vine.

Application Process:

Simply email Professor Boyer-Vine stating your interest and attach a resume. JD, LLM and MSL students are all welcome to apply.