Federal Legislation Clinic Students “Off to the Races”
Students in the newly constituted Federal Legislation Clinic got a jump on the fall semester by starting their intensive four-day orientation in the Chairman Elijah E. Cummings hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill.
The Clinic’s new faculty director, Dave Rapallo, and supervising attorneys Courtney French and Jessica Killin have more than 50 years combined of legislative experience.
Orientation sessions included deep dives into the “art” of legislative lawyering, the work of coalitions in legislative advocacy campaigns, clinical pedagogy, and congressional procedure. Students also broke up their week by spending several hours one afternoon competing against each other in an “Amazing Race” style scavenger hunt—solving clues and identifying key locations and officials in the House, Senate, and beyond. (One Senate chief of staff involved with the activity reported that she overheard a student saying it was worth the price of tuition!)
The students capped off their orientation week by meeting their new legislative clients, the Alliance to End Hunger and the Project on Government Oversight, and jumping right into their first legislative lawyering responsibilities. Congress is back in session now with an aggressive legislative agenda, and multiple committees have scheduled markups on legislation critical to the Clinic’s clients.
One of the goals of the Clinic this semester is to maximize first-hand experiences for students while being mindful of the ongoing pandemic and current safety precautions. Additional trips are already being planned to meet with the House Rules Committee, White House officials, and agency personnel, and students will have the opportunity to hear from experts and guest speakers who will “zoom in” to relay their insider takes on historic negotiations currently happening on the nation’s top legislative priorities.