Spring 2018 Course Schedule

Legislative Lawyering (LAW-795LL-001)
Hal Shapiro, John Gilliland

Meets: 04:00 PM - 05:50 PM (We) - Warren - Room N101

Enrolled: 28 / Limit: 30

Administrator Access


There are no notices at this time.


This course provides an introduction to the role of lawyers in public policy formation and implementation. It focuses on legislation, congressional procedures, statutory interpretation, and other skills lawyers need to assist clients with legislative matters. It also will introduce you to lawyering issues arising from Executive Branch policy making.

The course will attempt to combine theory and practice at every stage. It attempts to introduce you to what the uninitiated would consider lobbying but, as you will see, lobbying is a small subset of the work lawyers do in relation to public policy. You will learn that lobbyists do not need to be lawyers – or even high school or college graduates. However, a lawyer can bring important and uniquely relevant tools to help clients in relation to public policy – whether those clients are corporations, non-governmental organizations, Members of Congress, or Executive Branch officials.

This course is inter-disciplinary by design. Thus, it relies on a classic law school legislation textbook and readings rooted in history and political science. The first half of the course will largely focus on the mechanics of Congress and lawmaking, since knowledge of those procedures is fundamental to advising clients about U.S. policy formation. As we will discuss extensively, knowing how to move a bill – or defeat one – lies at the heart of most strategies advocates and lawyers employ in the policy arena. In some ways, this course attempts to do for legislation and public policy what Civil Procedure does for litigation.

Your readings will include background materials, statutes, congressional debates, congressional reports, political theory and commentary, and cases. You will have the opportunity to simulate the role of Members of Congress, constituents, and advocates. You will come to understand the pervasive nature and fundamental importance of statutory law. You will learn how Congress works (and, in the eyes of some observers, often does not work). You will gain skills to assist your future clients through legislative and policy solutions in parallel with or as a substitute for judicial or other legal ones.

You will have some of your assumptions about Congress, statutes, lobbying, campaign contributions, and the U.S. political process challenged and, perhaps most importantly, you will hopefully become more aware and involved citizens. Key questions you will be able to address more thoughtfully at the end of this class include:

• Why did the Framers create three branches of government and two legislative bodies, the House and the Senate?

• Do we have a do-nothing Congress? Is that bad? Is that what the Framers intended?

• Who is a lobbyist? Was Ralph Nader? Is Bill Gates? Is Bono?

• Is lobbying bad? Should it be outlawed? Can it be?

• What is a special interest? Are you one or part of one?

• Are campaign contributions bad? Should they be curbed, banned, or expanded?

Public policy extends beyond statutes. It can take the form of Executive Orders and formal and informal statements made by government officials. It can also include regulations and judicial opinions, but those subjects are the subject of other courses and will not be covered here.

Textbooks and Other Materials

The textbook information on this page was provided by the instructor. Students should use this information when considering purchases from the AU Campus Store or other vendors. Students may check to determine if books are currently available for purchase online.

First Class Readings

Not available at this time.


Use your MyAU username and password to access the syllabus in the following format(s):