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Skills of a Legislative Lawyer

Te Clinic trains students to be effective "legislative lawyers." A legislative lawyer must be able to:

  • Assess legislative and regulatory issues in their legal, process, policy, political, and personality (LP4) aspects;

  • Research and analyze legislative or regulatory issues in an accurate and comprehensive manner;

  • Apply the research in a manner that takes into account LP4 factors and advances the agenda of a client;

  • Produce a broad range of written analytical and advocacy materials;

  • Present research, analysis, options, and recommendations orally in a concise and precise fashion to the client or to third parties on behalf of the client;

  • Advise the client on their options; and,

  • Implement client decisions, including where appropriate advocating for and negotiating on behalf of the client.

For each of these skills a legislative lawyer must be proficient in understanding in their separate and integrated aspects their LP4 implications:

  •  Law – What does the bill or regulatory text say?  How has it been interpreted?

  • Process – What are the relevant formal and informal legislative and/or administrative procedures, and how will they channel decision making and shape the client's options?

  • Policy – What does the client want the law to be?

  • Politics – What is feasible for the client to achieve in the legislative or regulatory arena, based on the partisan, electoral, or bureaucratic forces at play?

  • Personality – How will the particular individuals involved shape our advocacy approach and potential outcomes?

A legislative lawyer works as part of a team.  Ideally, this team includes individuals with five other distinct skill sets: a strategist, a lobbyist, a grassroots organizer, a media coordinator, and a policy analyst. An explanation of how legislative teams work in theory and practice can be found in Chai Feldblum's, The Art of Legislative Lawyering and the Six Circles Theory of Advocacy, 34 McGeorge L. Rev. 785 (2003).

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