Legislation, Political Process and Election Law

WCL offers a rich selection of courses related to the law of democratic politics, elections and the legislative process. The courses in this field address the interplay between the way law is made in legislative and administrative bodies and the way law regulates the dynamics of the political system and the legislative process itself.

Lawyers specializing in this field may practice as legislative staff at the federal, state, county, or local level; as political advocates working for public interest or private organizations that lobby federal, state, county, and local legislatures; as lawyers on the staff of political candidates and campaigns; in law firms on behalf of clients seeking to influence legislation or comply with the complex body of campaign finance and election rules; as attorneys and legislative experts in government agencies, public interest groups or non-governmental organizations working on voting rights, campaign finance law and political participation; or as judges, legislators, administrators, political officeholders, or litigators who want to have a detailed knowledge of the legislative process.

The foundational courses address public law, legislation and the political process. First year students on this path should consider the first year elective in Public Law. In the second and third years, students should begin with Law of the American Political Process if they are especially interested in the law of campaigns and voting, and with the Legislation Seminar if they are especially interested in legislative advocacy and the judicial construction of statutes, or both. Students studying in either of these classes will benefit from taking or having taken Constitutional Law, a required course in the J.D. curriculum. Other closely relevant upper-level courses for students interested in campaigns and voting include First Amendment, the Problems in the Democratic Process Seminar, and the Law of Elections. Meantime, students interested in legislative advocacy should consider courses in the relevant allied field, i.e. Civil Rights, Antirust, Banking Law, the Congress, Law Making and Foreign Affairs Seminar, and so on.

Upper-level students should also explore taking one of WCL’s experiential course offerings focused on the legislative arena. The class on Legislative Process and Political Rhetoric focuses on the mechanics and politics of legislative process, as well as the methods of political rhetoric and persuasion. Most students work in legislative externships in state and federal government, or with a public interest group. In the Legislative Practicum, most students work in externships in Congress, primarily on committee staffs, federal agencies or public interest groups. In addition, Legislative Practicum students take the Legislative Practice Externship Seminar that examines Congress in depth.

The WCL Program on Law and Government’s Summer Institute frequently sponsors relevant summer classes, including a Voting Rights Institute and classes on Congress.


Key Electives