The University of Texas at Austin   School of Law

Main menu:

Clinical Education at UT Law

Real Cases. Real Experience.

Legislative Lawyering Clinic

Additional Course Information

Course Description

Instructor: Ross Fischer

6 credits (pass/fail) — offered Fall, Spring

Students must register for Law 397C and 397D, for a total of six credits.

The Clinic is open to students who have completed their first two semesters.


What We Do

The Legislative Lawyering Clinic is designed to teach students how to become effective legislative lawyers. Legislative lawyers combine substantive legal knowledge with political understanding to produce good law and good policy while advancing their clients’ goals. The Clinic’s purpose is to train legislative lawyers, not lobbyists or political strategists.

By participating in the clinic, a student learns about the state and local law-making process firsthand by participating as a lawyer in that process on behalf of a nonprofit client or on behalf of a local government. As a student legislative counsel, you learn how to analyze and craft legislation (bills, constitutional amendments, or ordinances) and other documents such as bill analyses, talking points, legal memos and other material. You attend client meetings, advocacy coalition meetings, meetings with public officials and their staffs, and meetings of local governing bodies. You observe floor sessions, press conferences, and other events. Throughout the semester, you are given the opportunity to develop and refine your analytical, problem-solving, legal research, legislative drafting, interviewing, negotiation, and oral advocacy skills negotiation, and advocacy skills.

Student legislative counsel have represented an environmental advocacy organization, a legal services organization, and a consumer watchdog group with their legislative issues needing the unique insights of a lawyer trained to understand both law and politics. Other students have worked with the city attorney for a local government, where they researched and prepared significant changes to ordinances regulating sexually-oriented business, the siting of cell phone service towers, and other land-use issues. They also provided legal advice in an election law case pending before the Texas Supreme Court

For any client, you can expect to be responsible for researching and preparing draft legislation, explanatory and advocacy documents, and legal memoranda. You will provide the client with frank advice concerning not only the legal issues involved with their matter, but any political issues that could significantly impact that matter. Finally, you will be treated as peers, not as interns.

The classroom component not only covers the skills necessary to practice as a legislative lawyer, but also covers the substantive law of legislating such as the law of appropriations, delegation of powers to agencies and private entities, and other fundamental concepts. Also covered are the legislative and administrative processes, mock hearings and negotiations, and the viewpoints of real-world participants.

In addition to selecting the Clinic during Early Registration, students need to fill out an application. For more information, see http://www.utexas.edu/law/clinics/applications.php.