Legislation Politics and Public Policy

The University of Maryland School of Law offers students a broad educational experience in the areas of legislation, public policy and public interest practice. Through a combination of traditional coursework, advanced legal research, in-house faculty supervised clinics, and externships, students will develop the knowledge and skills appropriate for employment with legislative bodies, governmental agencies, non-profit organizations or lobbying practices at all levels of government.

Maryland Legislation

The law school offers students the opportunity to gain experience with the Maryland General Assembly during the legislative session.

Students  take  the Legislation course in the Fall semester during which they learn to perform legislative history research; draft bills, amendments and fiscal notes; and work within the structure of the legislative process.

During the Spring semester, the students are assigned to work for a legislator, a legislative committee or the Department of Legislative Services. Students draft legislation, analyze proposed bills, meet with advocates for and opponents of bills, prepare legislators for bill hearings, testify to legislative committees, assist with amendment drafting, and perform other tasks as assigned. Not only do students gain valuable and unique experience, they also make contacts that will serve them well regardless of their ultimate practice area.

U.S. Congressional Legislation

Students interested in learning about the workings of the United States Congress can take the  Legislative Congressional Externship with the Legislative/Congressional Externship Workshop in either the Fall or Spring semester. This course combines class-work with two days per week on House or Senate committees or members' personal staffs. Students draft legislative memos, staff hearings, write floor statements, conduct research and otherwise function as junior staff members.

Students have worked for a wide variety of House and Senate Committees including: Judiciary; Homeland Security; Environment; Energy and Natural Resources; Science; Resources; Ways and Means; Energy and Commerce, and; Government Reform. In addition, students have also interned in the personal offices of almost 20 members of the House and Senate. This course is one of very few at law schools nationwide to provide direct experience with law-making at the Congressional level.

Additional Curricular Opportunities

Legislative and public policy experience-based opportunities are available in our Clinical Law Program. Additional externships which focus on legislative and/or public policy are available through , the Women, Leadership and Equality program and externships of the specialty programs. The law school's Environmental Law and Health Law programs provide legislative and public policy training in those specialties.

Students may expand these educational opportunities by participating in interdisciplinary graduate level study for up to 9 credits, or in any one of several dual degree programs in related fields of study.

The Law School offers many legislative and public policy oriented courses.

All students with an interest in legislation and public policy are encouraged to take Administrative Law (federal) , Law and Economics,  and an Advanced Legal Research course in Maryland or Federal Law and a public policy-oriented offering, for example,  Immigration Law. Government Contracts is also a useful course for students wishing to specialize in public policy. In addition, students should consider taking a trial advocacy course as useful preparation for participating in hearings and investigations.

Students are encouraged to gain additional experience by  participating in student groups such as MPILP (Maryland Public Interest Law Project, Inc.) and UMALL (University of Maryland Association of Legislative Law.) MPILP also funds full-time summer public interest clerkships with the proceeds of its fund-raising efforts. Finally, there are a variety of Maryland and federal legislative internships, volunteer programs and employment possibilities which may be arranged through law school auspices by contacting the Career Development Office.

For more information on the program, please contact Professor Susan Leviton (sleviton@law.umaryland.edu) about the Maryland legislative program and Mike Beland (mbeland@law.umaryland.edu) about federal legislative opportunities.