Instructor(s) Noonan, Kathleen
Overview: The Government and Legislative Law Clinic (GLLC) provides students with the unique opportunity to observe and participate in the many facets of governmental law, policy and the legislative process. Working under the direct supervision of clinical faculty and clients in legislative, administrative and judicial settings, students will gain first-hand experience working with government clients on legal issues with policy significance. Clients in the Spring 2011 included the Wisconsin Legislative Research Bureau, Legislative Council, Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The GLLC requires a minimum commitment of about 16 hours each week, divided between 12 hours with a client (sometimes on site), a 90-minute seminar with all clinic students and weekly one-on-one sessions with clinic faculty. Students accepted into the clinical program typically earn 4 credits but can earn more depending upon their particular client. Participation is limited to second and third-year law students.
Philosophy: GLLC seeks to provide students with hands-on experience with government and legislative clients. The clinic focuses on the development of “policy lawyering” skills, since our client assignments typically do not involve litigation but rather the development of new (or dissolution of existing) laws, regulations and/or policies. The clinic emphasizes several core themes: (1) the work of a government and legislative policy lawyer involves policy choices, which means that there is often not a “right” legal answer but many possible answers based on the criteria most important to your client (e.g., values, efficiency, cost, evidence); (2) the work of a government and legislative policy lawyer requires attention to the interests and needs of multiple constituencies (e.g., voters, agency and legislative leadership; the governor’s office, etc.,) making the question “who is your client” an interesting one to review and revisit; and (3) the work of a government and legislative policy lawyer involves constraints particular to the government context (e.g., elections; open meeting and notice rules; etc., ) which do not exist in more traditional lawyer-client relationships.