Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2003

Abstract

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.

Publication Citation

34 McGeorge L. Rev. 785-850 (2003)