Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Legislative information wants to be free

 At ALICE, we’re always excited to hear about ways that legislative data is being made more easily accessible. This is one area where information wants to be free -- and really ought to be free.
At the federal level, the Library of Congress maintains congress.gov, which has replaced the old Thomas library of legislative information. Most readers have probably used one or the other.
At the state level, state legislatures each have a website. Some are great, some are a total pain. If you want to track legislation across 50 states, it used to be that you'd have to visit 50 different clunky websites. Then the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) created a bill information service, with access limited to legislators and staff. (NCSL also maintains topic-specific databases that are searchable and open to the public.) But recently, data geeks have made state legislative information searchable by the public, through portals like Open States and Bill Track 50
For searching model law, there’s always the ALICE library. And, thanks to the good work of ALEC Exposed, even the ALEC library, which was once members-only, is now open to the public. 
What about cities? There are far more of them than there are states, and they have even fewer resources available for making legislative information open to the public. But here again, data geeks have been hard at work, and there seem to be great things on the horizon. Thousands of city codes are now available via municode. The next step is to make it easier to track municipal ordinances, and here Councilmatic appears to be leading the way. It was created a few years ago for the City of Philadelphia by Code for America, and the open source technology has since been redeployed by DataMade to Chicago and Oakland. In a sign that this sort of data really does want to be free, DataMade has shared the basic code that scrapes legislative data on GitHub.
We hope you find these resources to be useful. Know of other online portals for legislative data that we haven't included here? If so, please share them in the comments!

December 2, 2014 in Advocacy, Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 24, 2014

GUEST BLOG: The End of Cause-Lawyering and Community Education Clinics?

Marcy Karin runs the Work-Life Law and Policy Clinic at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. The Work-Life Clinic is an integrated law clinic that works on administrative litigation, legislative and regulatory advocacy, and community education efforts on employment law and policy issues for low-income individuals and nonprofit organizations working on their behalf. This work includes cases and projects related to unemployment insurance, reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, time off, flexible scheduling, unpaid wages, discrimination, reentry, and civil justice for military families.

Over the summer, the ABA changed the definition of what constitutes a clinic when it published Revised Standards for law school accreditation.  Specifically, Standard 304 now reads:

Simulation Courses and Law Clinics

(b) a law clinic provides substantial lawyering experience that (1) involves one or more actual clients, and (2) includes the following:  (i) advising or representing a client; (ii) direct supervision of the student’s performance by a faculty member; (iii) opportunities for performance, feedback from a faculty member, and self-evaluation; and (iv) a classroom instructional component.

This new rule explicitly requires at least one “actual client” for a course to be considered a clinic.  This may have (presumably unintended) consequences for programs that include policy advocacy, community lawyering, or other types of experiential training that may not include client representation, but otherwise meet the ABA’s requirements.

For example, some excellent clinics train students by taking matters and projects on behalf of causes, rather than clients.  Among other things, clinics have testified as experts in front of federal, state, local, and tribal legislatures; submitted comments to rulemaking as part of the regulated community; and worked as part of loose coalitions of people in community negotiations or mobilizations.  As Kevin Barry and I have written about in the past, this type of cause lawyering is a critical component in training students to meet the standards set forth in paragraph 6 of the Preamble to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which states that all lawyers “should cultivate knowledge of the law beyond its use for clients [and] employ that knowledge in reform of the law.”

In striving to meet this ethical standard and fulfill a critical need for lawyering services in different communities, a growing number of faculty have incorporated non-client work into clinic dockets.  In addition to law reform, some clinics regularly work in conjunction with partner organizations to offer walk-in legal clinics.  These type of drop-in events are usually undertaken without any expectation of entering into a lawyer-client relationship with event partners or the members of the public that attend these sessions for counseling services.  Other clinics focus on public education either by participating in “know your rights” workshops, by teaching high school students about the law, or by highlighting a problem that had previously remained in the shadows.  Some clinics do this by documenting human rights violations, working on grassroots media campaigns, issuing educational white papers, or volunteering to answer voter questions about how to exercise their rights on election day.

Of course, even litigation-focused clinics may work without clients.  Clinics have been asked to serve as amicus by courts on issues within their substantive areas of expertise, train judicial personnel, advocate for best practices or changes in existing judicial procedures or any number of other litigation orientated, but non-client projects.

Many (but not all) of the clinics that participate in these activities are integrated law clinics, which means they likely also have at least “one client” on a docket at any given time.  Given this, they would still qualify as a clinic.  Nonetheless, the new clinic definition remains problematic:  neither the ABA nor the academy should be sending the message that this type of work is not important in my opinion.  Nor that this work is not as important as lawyering work performed on behalf of a client.  Rather, law schools should have the discretion to offer “clinics” with substantial lawyering opportunities that educate the community about the law, identify problems with it, and/or address how best to reform it.

For the past few months, my colleague Art Hinshaw and I have been having an internal discussion about the potential unintended consequences that this revised standard may have on our clinics.  In this September post on the ADR Prof Blog, Art took our conversation public and asked whether this interpretation would be the death knell for mediation clinics like his, where students do not have clients but rather serve as mediators at the behest of our local courts.

His post spurred the mediation community into action, and he is now the co-chair of an ABA Dispute Resolution Section Task Force created specifically to address this issue.  To start off their conversations, he has suggested the following revised language for 304(b) to the Task Force:

A law clinic provides a substantial lawyering experience that (1) involves acting in a problem solving role, and (2) includes the following:

  • Any of these lawyering activities:
    • Advising or representing a client, OR
    • Acting as a third party neutral in a dispute involving live disputants, OR
    • Others???
  • Direct supervision of the student’s performance by a faculty member
  • Opportunities for performance, feedback from a faculty member, and self-evaluation, and
  • A classroom instructional component

With this post, I hope to galvanize more clinicians to join the conversation.  There is no way that this new definition will be the death of cause lawyering or community education in law school clinics. That said, ABA Standards should reflect the reality that many clinics undertake important non-client based lawyering work and training.  The new standards became operational on August 12, 2014, and Standard 304 must be phased in to apply to students who are 1Ls in Fall 2016.  This gives us a window of opportunity to help our mediation colleagues improve this new standard. 

Given this, what else should be included in the list of proposed lawyering activities?  Educating the community about legal rights or processes?  Responding to requests for technical assistance from the government?  How can we best reflect the diversity in our community with respect to clinic structures and learning opportunities?  Share your ideas in the comments!

November 24, 2014 in Advocacy, Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Guest Blog on SKILLS: Can Law School Clinics Lobby?

Marcy Karin runs the Work-Life Law and Policy Clinic at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. The Work-Life Clinic is an integrated law clinic that works on administrative litigation, legislative and regulatory advocacy, and community education efforts on employment law and policy issues for low-income individuals and nonprofit organizations working on their behalf. This work includes cases and projects related to unemployment insurance, reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, time off, flexible scheduling, unpaid wages, discrimination, reentry, and civil justice for military families.

“Over the past decade, policy advocacy has exploded onto the clinical legal education scene, bringing with it not only the promise of new teaching opportunities, but also the problems of the unknown. Professors that teach in clinics know that there is a fine line between policy advocacy and lobbying, but they do not necessarily know where that line is, or what happens if one crosses it; and so “lobbying” has been relegated to the shadows—a creature of tax, of government funding, of technical disclosure requirements.  The ‘L’ word of which we dare not speak.”

Recently, Kevin Barry (Quinnipiac Law School) and I co-authored Law Clinics and Lobbying Restrictions to thrust clinic lobbying out of the darkness and into the light.  We do this by explaining how the labyrinthine law of lobbying—including federal income tax law, federal and state laws governing recipients of state funding, and federal and state lobbying disclosure laws—applies to law school clinics and how professors might best comply with the law.  The appendices contain questions designed to help professors explore each area of lobbying law to identify when clinic policy work may trigger reporting or disclosure requirements or prevent someone from doing this important work.

With this article, we hope to embolden professors (and, by association, their students) to “lobby” more with a one-stop shopping guide to help traverse this rewarding, but sometimes complicated, terrain.  In sum, YES law school clinics can “lobby”!

June 1, 2014 in Skills, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 25, 2014

ACS student chapter at NYU holds first annual legislation competition

Over at ACSblog, NYU law students Zachary Kolodin and Sarah Molinoff have a guest post about an exciting new venture:

The New York University School of Law ACS Student Chapter broke new ground this year by launching its first annual Legislation Competition. Inspired by the work of American Legislative and Issue Campaign Exchange (ALICE), the NYU ACS Student Chapter partnered with the NYU Journal of Legislation and Public Policy to create a real-life policy problem and asked law students to come up with solutions that could be translated into legislation at the state level. Participants in the competition drafted model state-level bills and wrote policy papers advocating for and explaining their proposed legislation.

The winning entry, by first-year student Cerin Lindgrensavage, will appear in an upcoming edition of Quorum, the online publication of the Journal of Legislation and Public Policy.  You can read more about it and the competition itself at the ACSblog

Congratulations to the winner, all the students who submitted entries, and the members and editors of NYU's ACS Student Chapter and the Journal of Legislation and Public Policy!

April 25, 2014 in Advocacy, News, Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

SKILLS: Guest Blogger David Marcello on Teaching Plain Language

We are excited to have David Marcello as today’s guest blogger to highlight his article on Plain Language titled “Teaching Plain Language Drafting in a Legislative and Administrative Advocacy Clinic,” recently published in Clarity. David is the executive director of The Public Law Center, where he runs the Legislative and Administrative Advocacy Clinics and teaches courses on legislation and agency rulemaking. He has taught legislative drafting in Bulgaria, the Dominican Republic, the Republic of Georgia, Moldova, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Nigeria, and South Africa. Prior to the Public Law Center, David was the coordinator for the first statewide environmental lobby in Louisiana; he founded and directed Louisiana’s first public-interest law firm; and he served as executive counsel to New Orleans Mayor Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial. In 1994-95, he chaired the 40-member Charter Revision Advisory Committee, which was responsible for the first comprehensive revision of New Orleans’ Home Rule Charter in the 40 years. He documented some of the charter changes in "Systemic Ethics Reform" for the Brookings publication Resilience and Opportunity. David was also general counsel to the Regional Transit Authority for seven years, where he handled the RTA's buyout of the formerly private transit system and advised the RTA on its successful campaign for taxing authority. He secured legislation allowing the 1984 World’s Fair to transfer property to the Rouse Corporation for the $60 million Riverwalk development on New Orleans’ riverfront. He later represented Rouse in obtaining an exemption from Sunday-closing laws for Riverwalk. He has also worked as a staff attorney for New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation; a legal consultant for an urban planning firm; and counsel for several neighborhood associations. 


"Teaching Plain Language Drafting in a Legislative and Administrative Advocacy Clinic"

I wrote this article (hyperlinked in the title above) with one simple goal—to tell how we teach legislative drafting to second and third-year students at Tulane Law School. A later reading revealed, however, the extent to which this article also refutes a frequent, facile, and flawed assumption—that plain language drafting is utterly reducible to suggestions about writing style.

That’s just wrong. Plain language drafting is about far more than “style.” Consider multiple meaningful ways in which plain language drafting impacts the substance of what we write.

First, clear thinking usually precedes plain language drafting; you can't competently express what you don't first comfortably comprehend. Plain language drafting demands that drafters dig deeper to understand what they're trying to express so simply. Clear ("plain") thinking and plain language drafting coexist in a symbiotic relationship, where each informs the other.

Plain language drafting facilitates policy development. The article quotes Martineau: "Only in the drafting is the proponent’s intent developed.” It cites Dickerson’s wisdom that drafters who listen to "talk back" from the text see where they’re headed by looking back at what they’ve written.

Plain language drafting addresses "structure." I’ve read that Laurence Tribe struggled mightily with his constitutional law treatise and even considered abandoning the project until his great breakthrough, when he finally produced—a satisfactory outline! 

Good organization, good understanding, and good expression are all integral to plain language drafting, which is not just about "style." It's also about "substance" and "structure.”

I look forward to learning what others think about the article and these propositions I’ve presented as an introduction.

April 23, 2014 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

SKILLS: Guest Blogger Ann Schiavone on Teaching Using Legislative Simulations


I'm thrilled to introduce today's guest blogger on the Legislation Law Prof Blog:  Ann L. Schiavone.  Ann returned to Duquesne University School of Law in 2013 as an assistant professor of legal writing. Prior to joining Duquesne's faculty, she was a member of Akron University Law faculty and taught such varied courses as Legal Analysis, Research & Writing I & II, Legislative Process & Drafting, as well as seminars in Sexual Orientation and the Law and Animal Law. Prior to teaching and while earning her law degree, Ann served as the legislative assistant in the Pennsylvania State Senate and House of Representatives.


The rest of Ann's life is also interesting:  she lives with her husband and five dogs in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh, and in her free time, she is an avid equestrian and an amateur genealogist.  Deep thanks to Ann for sharing her experience and insights on using legislative simulations.  Ann's picture and post are below: AnnSchiavone 2011




Using Legislative Simulations to Teach Today’s Law Students about Lawmaking


Most every law student can repeat the mantra “the legislature is the lawmaking body of the government.”  But, do these students really understand and internalize that concept?  Law schools have long demonstrated bias for the courts, judicially created law, and judicial interpretations of statutes.  One need only take a quick look at the required courses in most schools, or sit in on any course employing the dominant pedagogical approach of the casebook method to recognize the bias. 


In recent years, laws schools increasingly have worked to give their students a more varied view of the practice of law, specifically including mandatory or elective legislative and rulemaking courses, either within the first year, or in the upper-level curriculum. Many of us who teach in the area of legislation, legislative process, and legislative drafting have been on the cutting edge of this movement.  The purpose of this post is to show how including simulations in legislatively based courses can enhance students appreciation for the legislative (or lawmaking) process, expand students’ legal problem-solving universe, and give our current generation of learners (the Millennials) what they want most: self-directed, interactive and collaborative learning.[1] 


Just as the casebook method encourages students to place themselves in the role of advocates and decision makers, legislative courses should place students squarely in the lawmaking process.  While there are numerous pedagogical ways of accomplishing this, my legislative process and drafting course follows a “mock legislature” format in order to place each student in the role of legislator.   Over the years the course’s` “legislative body” has changed. (I’ve used a mock United States Senate, a mock state legislature, and in years with smaller enrollment, I use a single legislative committee as the simulation vehicle.)  At Duquesne Law, my course focuses in Pennsylvania legislative process, but truly any legislative body will work. 


In the first one-third of the course students learn the substantive material necessary so that they may fully engage themselves in the simulation.  Such material includes concepts of legislative process, as well as the impact political competition, consensus building, lobbying, and interest groups can have on the process.  In addition, students learn about
construction and interpretation of statutes, and legislative drafting techniques.  While this portion of the course is taught in a more traditional manner, I never pass up the opportunity to encourage collaborative learning through small group and problem-solving exercises.  While students are learning the groundwork necessary for the simulation, they are also preparing for the simulation, by organizing political parties, selecting committee assignments, electing leaders (for both parties and committees) and thinking about, researching, and beginning to draft their first piece of legislation.


The bills drafted for the simulation are the fuel for the mock legislature experience.  Each student selects their own topic within the sphere of the legislative body at work.  For example, the students working in the US Senate must draft a bill appropriate for the US Senate, and students working in a Pennsylvania legislative body will draft a Pennsylvania bill.  (This always leads to good discussion of separation of powers and, in some cases, preemption.)   


During the second one-third of the course, the class performs the simulation, beginning with committee meetings.  Each student must present his or her bill to the committee to which the bill was assigned.  The student faces questions from committee members and defends the drafting choices of the bill.  Committee members can vote to amend bill and then vote on whether to send bill to the legislature floor.  If bills pass to the full legislative body for a vote, the students must, again, face questioning from all their peers.    


Students have drafted bills on a large range of topics.  Some are simple, some more complex:

            Providing oversight and regulation of hydraulic fracturing practices (“fracking”).

            Legalizing marijuana.

            Bolstering laws to curb or prevent human trafficking.

            Providing relief for persons burdened by student loans.

            Amending Megan’s law.

            Providing labeling transparency for genetically modified foods.


But all the bills have one thing in common; the students each choose a bill topic (with my prior approval) on his or her own, and are therefore more fully invested in the outcome of the exercise.  Generally, this fact alone encourages each student to work harder and put more effort into the course. 


Early in the course, I divide students into majority and minority political parties.   Throughout the simulation, I grant “bonus points” to encourage both competition and cooperation amongst the students.  Often they must calculate their own best interest.  Should they cross the aisle to support a bill in which they believe?  Or should they stay strong and support the party?  While these pressures are artificial and not as complex as in a real legislative body, it still gives the students a taste of the dilemmas of decision making in a legislature.    


The final one third of the class includes “real world” experience, including a final project working with local non-profits and legislators on bills to solve problems of interest to the community.  The class sessions also include significant discussion of legislative current events. 


[1] Emily Benfer and Colleen Shanahan, Educating the Invincibles: Strategies for

Teaching the Millennial Generation in Law School, 20 Clin. L. Rev. 301, 310 (Fa. 2013).

April 17, 2014 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Webinar on Homeless Bills of Rights Legislation (April 15th)

The criminalization of homelessness and violence against people who are homeless is on the rise and demonstrates that added protections are necessary to protect the civil rights of people who are homeless. Multiple cities have passed or are considering passing a Homeless Bill of Rights (for a complete list visit the National Coalition for the Homeless here.) This movement presents an ideal opportunity for experiential learning and teaching law students about legislative advocacy.
On April 15th at 2pm (EST), Professor Rankin, Tristia Bauman, Housing Program Director at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, and Paul Boden, Executive and Organizing Director at Western Regional Advocacy Project will present on this timely topic and discuss the powerful legislative tool. The webinar will highlight the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty's report, "From Wrongs to Rights: The Case for Homeless Bills of Rights Legislation." The report, co-authored with Professor Sara Rankin of Seattle University School of Law, describes the need for homeless bills of rights legislation, provides insight into the various models of the laws that have emerged, and offers homeless advocates with guidance on how to enact such laws in their own states. Professor Rankin, a seasoned advocate, has taught lawyering skills courses that engage students in  legislative responses to homelessness. 
To sign up for the webinar and learn more about how you might incorporate this work into your legislative and policy classes, click here

April 9, 2014 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Symposium on Consumer Contracts at Georgetown Law Center April 4

As highlighted on Contracts Prof Blog, the Georgetown Consumer Law Society and Citizen Works are hosting the “Making the Fine Print Fair” symposium on April 4th. The law governing consumer contracts is a great example of an area traditionally governed by common law where advocates are looking to carefully crafted legislation as an effective tool to address inequities that have built up under current doctrine. If you are in the area, consider attending the symposium and engaging with several prominent thinkers and advocates in a discussion around consumer contract reform (full disclosure: ALICE is currently working with some of these experts on crafting model legislation in this area and Peter Bailon of ALICE will be speaking at the symposium).

March 26, 2014 in Advocacy, Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Getting Started: Part II in ALICE’s Legislative Drafting Interview Series

Check out the ALICE Legislative Drafting Interview Series with Professor David Marcello, Executive Director of The Public Law Center, for advice and helpful tips for students and others interested in taking on a drafting project.


In Part 2 of the interview series, Professor Marcello continues his discussion of the role of legislative drafting in the legal process with comments on how to prepare to begin drafting and the kinds of research and resources that may be beneficial to a drafter during the drafting process. Visit the ALICE library or contact ALICE at alice@alicelaw.org if you are interested in learning more.


March 24, 2014 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Guest Blog on Skills: Professor Jan Levine's Legislative Drafting Course at Duquesne

Earlier this week, I asked for faculty to share examples of how they incorporate legislation into their courses.  Professor Jan M. Levine is in his thirtieth year of teaching legal writing and has more than two decades of experience leading legal writing and research programs. Before coming to Duquesne, Professor Levine directed the legal writing program at the Temple University School of Law for eleven years, the University of Arkansas School of Law, and the University of Virginia School of Law, and taught as an adjunct writing professor at his alma mater, the Boston University School of Law. Before going into full-time teaching, Professor Levine was a public interest attorney and counsel to two state agencies in Massachusetts.  A graduate of the State University of New York at Albany, and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Prof. Levine has published many articles on legal research and writing and contributed several chapters to the second edition of the ABA Sourcebook on Legal Writing. Professor Levine was the founding president of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD); served three times as an elected member of the ALWD's board of directors; was a member of the board of directors of the Legal Writing Institute and the board of directors of SCRIBES, the American Society of Writers on Legal Subjects; and served as chair and member of the ABA Communications Skills Committee.  He is the winner of the 2014 Thomas F. Blackwell Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing and the 2014 Section Award from the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research.  Here is Professor Levine's picture and post:



            For more than two decades, at three law schools, I have been teaching an advanced legal writing course that builds upon the foundation created in the first-year writing courses and introduces students to new drafting skills, focusing on statutes and statutory drafting.  The final project in the course requires students to solve a personally-identified legal or quasi-legal problem by drafting a report and a statute, ordinance, regulation, procedural rule, or a similar solution. 

            This final project is rooted in my own experience as a public-interest advocate and state agency counsel.  I learned in practice that changing the rules was usually a better way to change the law than was litigation; most wide-ranging reforms come from drafting or amending statutes, by rewriting regulations, changing policy or procedure manuals, or writing similarly-structured “rules of the game.”  Even if law reform begins with litigation, implementing any resulting institutional or societal changes almost always requires systemic implementation by employing similar methods and documents.  Furthermore, it was apparent to me that few attorneys were good at this kind of work, although all lawyers, at some point in their careers, needed to be able to prospectively solve problems by employing such techniques.  I have seen the same thing in the law school context, where someone skilled at revising a law school’s rules can often play a huge role in institutional change. 

            That final course project constitutes half of the grade in the course and meets either the upper-level writing requirement (at least 7500 words) or the skills requirement.  Each student must offer an in-class presentation based on a draft of his or her project, prompting feedback and critique by the other members of the section and by me, which is followed by submission of a final background report and a final draft of the statute or other similar document.  

            Although students may come up with a final project on their own, I encourage them to seek out federal, state, or local officials, or special interest groups, and ask about their concerns; many have found government officials and interest groups very willing to work with them to help craft a draft of a statute or ordinance of benefit to the organization or individual that might actually make it into law.  Many students come into the course planning to address a problem which they had become aware of from work in the law school clinic, from a summer public interest or public service position, or from an externship.  Several times I have had state legislators, judges, and other persons from outside the law school come to class to hear the students’ final presentations.

            My students have responded in an amazing way to this type of project by preparing papers that usually go far beyond their own expectations because they were personally invested in creating solutions to problems that vexed them.  Many of the projects have applied the techniques of plain-English legislative drafting in what we often think of as non-legislative contexts, such as rules governing sports.  Several projects have been enacted into law (or served as the basis for institutional change at the law school), many students have attended related legislative or local government hearings (some have testified), and others found their work mirrored by subsequent events.  Several projects have been published in law journals and a number of students found the final project the key to getting their “dream job.”

            Here is a list of some of the projects prepared for this course:

Law-School or University-Related:

  • Procedures for university-provided accommodations for disabled students.
  • Proposed changes to the law school’s course registration system.
  • A proposal to change the law school grading .

Local Government Law:

  • A sign ordinance for a New Jersey township with a historic downtown district.
  • A local DBA ordinance for a town in Arkansas.
  • Creation of a housing bank for Pittsburgh.

State Law:

  • A Pennsylvania statute for inspection and licensure of body art facilities.
  • Revisions to Pennsylvania unemployment insurance statutes and regulations.
  • Court rules to hold attorneys in contempt for failing to appear for hearings.
  • An HIV/AIDS stigma cause of action for Pennsylvania.
  • A revision of Pennsylvania’s DUI statute.
  • A proposal for licensing pharmacy technicians in Pennsylvania.
  • A proposal for regulating electronic billboards in Pennsylvania.
  • A tenant’s bill of rights for Pennsylvania.
  • Rental property security requirements for Pennsylvania tenants.

Federal Law:

  • A proposed federal “Shield Law” for journalists.
  • Proposed changes to federal conflict-of-interest rules for persons serving on food safety and related agency review panels.
  • Proposed changes to the process for public notice and comment about airport runway expansion.



  • Revision of NCAA rules governing the dispensing and storage of prescription drugs for student athletes.
  • Revision of NHL rules for illegal “head checks.”
  • A student athlete “Bill of Rights” for Pennsylvania addressing scholarships and health insurance.
  • A statute legalizing “sports betting” in New Jersey.
  • A federal statute for licensing sports agents.


March 19, 2014 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Guest Blog: Kevin Hull from John Marshall on Teaching Legislative Drafting

Yesterday, I issued asked for others to share how they incorporate legislation into the classroom.  Today, the Legislation Law Prof Blog is featuring a guest blog from Kevin Hull, who teaches Legislative Drafting at the John Marshall Law School. Kevin's legislative background precedes his turn as law faculty:  Kevin worked for the 91st Illinois General Assembly, serving as Assistant Counsel to the House Speaker, handling issues including Redistricting, Gov. Ryan’s Death Penalty Commission Report, and the state’s response to the September 11th attacks. A graduate of JMLS, he currently advocates for American veterans and military families through his position as Executive Director of the Westside Institute for Science and Education at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in downtown Chicago. Here's Kevin's picture and post:  

KMH headshot

I’ve been teaching Legislative Drafting at my alma mater, The John Marshall Law School, since Fall 2007. While my work focuses on advocacy for our Veterans and military families, my vision for the course was to engage our on-site clinical operations to offer them resource support and collaboration in the policy impacting their crusading work. With Fair Housing, Immigration, Domestic Violence, Business+Entrepreneurship, and Veterans Benefits, among other channels, I planned to engage one clinic per semester to take ~three weeks of the full fourteen to fully cover an issue. Our lessons followed a formula I crafted: first, in-class remarks by legislators from all levels of government, seeking our students’ participation in an issue they wanted to champion; second, a full class discussing what was presented, review of applicable current laws and any proposed legislation, selection of a task to deliver back to the legislator, and agreement on a plan to execute that task; third, we’d present our findings, often with the students standing before their peers and invited guests to talk about their work.

Today I will share about when we welcomed Director and Professor Allison Bethel from the Fair Housing Legal Support Center and Clinic [jmls.edu/fairhousing/center]. At issue before the Commissioners of Cook County was the blatant discrimination levied against those presenting so-called “Section 8 Vouchers” to support their rent payments. In the City of Chicago, such discrimination used to be allowed. But if you crossed the street just months ago, and out of the city limits into Cook County, people hoping to rent apartments lost the City’s protection regarding Section 8 vouchers. In Cook County those landlords could refuse acceptance on account of the voucher alone.

One of the co-sponsors of the measure to remedy this inconsistency – both of law, and of conscience – was Larry Suffredin, one of my mentors from my time on staff in Springfield, who also serves as the lead lobbyist for the Chicago Bar Association. His general counsel joined our class and was absolutely terrific. We talked for longer than I expected about procedural strategy, causing my students to really engage on how the commissioner could successfully pass this much-needed change.

As a basic and founding tenet of my class, I leave it for the students to decide what issue they address. We usually have three to choose from, as identified in class, or sometimes the lone issue is so complex we divide into sub-sections and the students then decide from those options. I rarely ever assign them all the same thing and feel this approach is an effective way to allow all types of student to really engage—the quiet/timid may not fully enter a class yet may have the most to gain, so I pay particular attention to the intra-semester dynamics to ensure my class design adapts to every student in some way before fourteen weeks expire. With a maximum of ~fifteen, I approach each new batch with the confidence that I have to try and pull it off... again!

Back to the Section 8 discrimination. Procedurally, the sponsor had only a handful who verbally said they’d support the initiative, with seventeen total in the body so nine needed for passage. In class, we discussed interest groups both for and against the measure, and researched statistics on prevalence of practice, as well as other jurisdictions for comparative analysis of trends, etc. A good deal of that was expected of the student before the next class period, allowing those who achieved the information to help lead the class discussion, boosting senses of confidence, role+relevance, and self-purpose/potential a great deal each semester—it is an empowering dynamic, to be sure, and one you cannot take lightly as you will likely gain a mentee through the experience, with years of continued encounter and potential collaboration to follow.

At the end of the class session our task was to present alternatives the commissioner could consider on how to pass the ordinance. As we discussed during the next week’s class, the students remarked they had never been more engaged in a law school class than ours. They shared how they were using their core curriculum learning in real-world application—a hallmark of my alma mater in preparing students for the actual practice of law, even policy. By following my formula, the students had a roadmap for their learning, affording them the opportunity to feel comfortable in the class environment, to thus bring forth their ideas with confidence.

UPDATE: In summer 2013, the good commissioners of Cook County passed the measure we had discussed the previous autumn [one of the sites tracking--link here], to bring the County in line with the City and thereby disallow discrimination based on Section 8 housing choice vouchers.

I had a few students—now graduates practicing law—write to me to say they had seen the news and included personal remarks about how important my class was to their learning. I filed those messages in a special folder I keep from my former students who, years later, wish to send similar such sentiments with me about how my class impacted them.


March 18, 2014 in Advocacy, Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 17, 2014

News & Skills: Collaboration Workshop in Philadelphia

Posted on behalf of Amy Vorenberg, Director, Legal Writing and Professor of Law at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. NOTE:  At least one session will address different approaches to incorporating legislative drafting and advocacy into the legal writing classroom

FREE workshop  - Bringing Outside In: Social Justice Collaborations in the Legal Writing Curriculum. The date is June 29, 2014,  8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at  Drexel University School of Law in Philadelphia.

Workshop Description:  This free one-day workshop will explore how legal writing faculty can collaborate with clinics, non-profits, and pro bono projects to expand experiential learning opportunities for students by bringing social justice practice experience into legal writing teaching.

Many legal writing faculty expand skills training by creating partnerships with public interest organizations, clinics, pro bono programs, and externships. The workshop will be a forum for discussion of specific collaborations that workshop participants have undertaken or hope to launch. The projects can be full-blown courses, short-term collaborations on discrete projects, incremental collaborations among faculty, or ideas for future partnerships.  They can take place within the required legal writing curriculum, in upper-division courses, or in conjunction with pro bono, externship, or clinical programs.

The workshop will provide a platform for sharing ideas and continuing to develop a community around enriching students’ educational experiences through public interest collaborations that offer opportunities for experiential learning.

Registration for the conference is here:





March 17, 2014 in News, Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Skills: Incorporating Legislative Advocacy into the First Year Legal Writing Classroom


One of the goals of the Legislation Law Prof Blog is to facilitate discussion among faculty about how we incorporate legislation into our courses.  I am among the growing body of legal writing faculty that incorporate legislative process, advocacy, and drafting into legal writing courses.  I’ve been fortunate at Seattle University because our program structure allows me to bring this experience to my first year students during the spring semester.   Seattle University’s first year program features collaborations between legal writing classes and either (1) a community non-profit or pro bono agency, or (2) Seattle University’s clinical program.  Although each professor can select their own focus for these collaborative projects, my spring collaborative project always focuses on an outside partner’s contemplated legislative proposal.    Through this experience, my first year students:

      • learn about legislative enactment and administrative rule-making processes: how a bill becomes law and how agency regulations are promulgate
      • gain insight into legislative, administrative, and judicial roles and      relationships in the lawmaking process
      • meet with the outside partner in class to learn about the partner’s real, contemplated legislative proposal
      • conduct both legal and non-legal research to support and analyze the partner’s contemplated legislative proposal
      • connect with outside practitioners, legislators, and legislative-lawyer alums through related guest lectures and class visits
      • learn basic interviewing skills; conduct interviews of various constituents (approved by the client); and incorporate the results of these interviews into their analysis
      • gain familiarity with some of the basic principles of legislative drafting
      • draft written analyses and recommendations for the outside partner
      • orally present the highlights of their written work to the partner in a final      meeting

For most of my students, this experience is not only their first opportunity to work on a “real world” issue for a real entity; it is also their first real glimpse into the world of legislative process and policymaking.  Many of my students report this experience as the highlight of their first year experience; others decide to pursue further legislative experience through clinics or externships; some have even changed course and decided to pursue legislative lawyering as a potential career option.

How do you incorporate legislation into your classes— legal writing or otherwise?  Please comment or contact us to share.

March 17, 2014 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Skills: Sample Policy Student Competences

One of the goals of the Legislation Law Prof Blog is to disseminate resources in order to contribute to legislation skills training in law schools. As we discussed in our welcome post, legislation and policy advocacy provide unique and exciting ways for law faculty to incorporate experiential opportunities into our classrooms. In this post, we share sample student competencies from the Health Justice Project, a legislation and policy clinic.

The Health Justice Project in the Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy at Loyola University Chicago School of Law offers a live client clinic and a policy clinic to students. The policy clinic is designed to train law students in the fundamentals of legislative lawyering and policy advocacy. The course is cross-listed at the medical and public health schools and the students work together to address the social determinants of health through the representation of local and national non-profits.

Over the course of the semester, students are expected to work on a public health problem and demonstrate a mastery of legislative skills, advocacy skills and professional qualities. The attached document describes student competences and breaks them down into skills and components. The use of these policy skills are ideal for experiential learning in both the clinic and classroom setting. We encourage you to replicate, modify, or adapt these charts for your own use. Click on the following link to download a copy:  Download Health Justice Policy Skills Chart

These competencies were adapted from the skills charts developed by Chai Feldblum in Federal Legislation & Administrative Clinic, now directed by Judy Appelbaum, and modified over time for use in the Health Justice Project.

As always, if you have materials you would like to share with the Legislation Law Prof Blog readership, please let us know.    


March 12, 2014 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Drafting Resources: The ALICE Drafting Manual


A key part of ALICE’s work involves collaborating with students to draft progressive model laws, like the ALICE Model Fair Debt Buying Practices Act. Starting the drafting process can often be daunting for those without prior experience. There are a variety of resources that we find useful when starting a draft. The ALICE Drafting Manual (attached below) is one such resource that we provide to drafters working with us. The Manual is a great technical resource for drafters, laying out the necessary elements for a model law, formatting rules and template, and drafting rules.

ALICE is in the process of updating the 2013 Manual, so the version here is a bit out of date, but it is a valuable resource regardless.  We will provide the updated version as soon as it is ready. If you are interested in learning more about drafting, contact ALICE at alice@alicelaw.org or visit the ALICE library.

Download ALICE Model Law Drafting Manual

March 10, 2014 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Theory and Skills: The Art of Legislative Lawyering and Six Circles Theory of Legislative Advocacy

In "The Art of Legislative Lawyering and Six Circles Theory of Legislative Advocacy" (Chai Feldblum, McGeorge Law Review 2003) describes the necessary skills for legislative advocacy and how that translates into the law school setting. The article was written by Chai Feldblum, Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, during her tenure as a Professor of Law at Georgetown Law Center and as the founder of the school's Federal Legislation and Administrative Clinic. 

With Commissioner Feldblum's permission, we are sharing the article here (Download The Art of Legislative Lawyering - Chai Felblum) and posting the abstract below.


A "legislative lawyer" is a person who exists in Washington, D.C., and in almost every city and state in this country where legislation and administrative regulations are developed. But most people do not know who that person is or what that person does. In fact, most advocacy organizations that should be hiring legislative lawyers have no idea who a legislative lawyer is. 

The author coined the term "legislative lawyer" when she created a Federal Legislation Clinic at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. over a decade ago. The author needed to explain to her faculty colleagues what type of law she intended to teach her students in the Clinic and why such learning deserved six (now ten) law school credits.

The author explained at the time, "legislative lawyers" are individuals who practice law in a political, advocacy context. Good legislative lawyers are: (1) good at comprehending, analyzing, and manipulating legal text and, at the same time, good at understanding the political dynamics of legislative and administrative systems; (2) able to gain the trust and respect of both legal players and political players in an advocacy effort because of their joint competency in law and politics; and (3) able, because of such trust and respect, to be effective and creative translators and negotiators between the often disparate worlds of law, policy, and politics.

The author’s primary goal in this article is to describe the skills and talents of a good legislative lawyer. The legislative lawyer is a key component of the author’s Six Circles Theory of Effective Advocacy. She developed this theory mostly (although not exclusively) out of her experience working on the Americans with Disabilities Act from 1988 to 1990. An additional goal of this article, therefore, is to set forth the Six Circles Theory of Effective Advocacy and to highlight its potential contribution towards structuring an effective legislative or regulatory effort.

The author’s final goal of this article is to provide an overview of how she teaches "legislative lawyering" in a law school clinical setting. The author hopes this section of the article, together with its appendices, will be useful to anyone who wishes to establish a similar clinic focusing on legislation and administrative regulations.

March 9, 2014 in Skills, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Getting Started: Part I in ALICE's Legislative Drafting Interview Series

ALICE (American Legislative and Issue Campaign Exchange) is an almost two-year-old project whose central focus is advancing progressive policy through the creation, curation, and communication of content within a web-based, fully-text-searchable, public library of progressive state and local laws and written supports in argument for them. Much of ALICE’s content is produced by a network of law professors and students from dozens of schools nationwide, practicing attorneys, experts in legislative drafting, and policy experts from a wide range of think tanks and progressive policy organizations. One such expert is Professor David Marcello, Executive Director of The Public Law Center, and an internationally-recognized legislative drafting expert. ALICE sat down with Professor Marcello last year to discuss the role of legislative drafting in the legal process, and to offer tips to students and others interested in taking on a drafting project. In Part 1 of the resulting interview series, Professor Marcello discusses the importance of legislative drafting, finding drafting opportunities, and how broadly one should craft legislation. Check out the video and contact ALICE at alice@alicelaw.org if you are interested in learning more.

March 7, 2014 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)