Legislative Lawyering

What is legislative lawyering?


          Legislative lawyering focuses on the processes of governing. Legislative lawyers interact with officials, decision-makers and bodies produced by the voters in elections.

 

According to Professor Chai Rachel Feldblum, Georgetown University Law Center, there are five skills required of the legislative lawyer.

 

First is the ability to assess the problem/issue. The legislative lawyer must first fully understand the client’s desired policy goal and be able to identify, and accurately assess both the political landscape and the legal landscape that will govern his client’s desired policy outcome.
Second, the legislative lawyer must possess the ability to research the issue. He must be able to focus on and understand the text of the proposed or necessary legislation and how it will be different, and produce a different outcome, than current law.
Third, the legislative lawyer must be able to propose solutions and approaches to resolve the issues and produce the desired outcome. This includes proposing different legislative or administrative options such as which area of the law needs to be changed or which government agency is best to look to in order to achieve the client’s goal.
Fourth, the legislative lawyer will often help the client or legislative staff with drafting legislation or regulations and talking points or memoranda explaining the client’s goal and advocating for passage.
Fifth, the legislative lawyer will almost always be involved with presenting the client’s policy goal to decision makers and other interested parties and negotiating with those who support and oppose the client’s proposed legislation. He will be involved with evaluating amendments or other proposals and drafting amendments to meet objections to the legislation or to clarify its intent.

 

         Legislative lawyering is not traditional “practicing law.” Thus, some of the attributes of the lawyer-client relationship such as confidentiality are not always present. However, by using their legal skills, legislative lawyers  combine their knowledge of the law with their understanding of political realities to help clients devise creative solutions to difficult legal and political situations.