The Moritz Legislation Clinic provides a front-row view of the legislative process in the Buckeye State as students work directly with legislative leaders and their staffs on matters pending or anticipated to arise before the Ohio House and Senate.
Team-taught by two members of the clinic faculty, the course meets twice a week. The classroom component focuses on the Ohio legislative process and on state constitutional law as it affects the relationship between Ohio courts and the legislature.
Clinical placements (as well as class sessions) teach students how to research and analyze current and potential legislative issues, expose them to the challenges of information sharing in a partisan context, and develop their negotiation and consensus building skills.
Since August 2000, the Legislation Clinic at the Michael E. Moritz College of Law has enabled participating students to develop legislative analysis and lawyering skills and to benefit from exposure to Ohio legislative practice.
In addition, the clinic fosters new scholarship on the operations of and challenges facing state legislatures, and offers an important public policy service to Ohio legislators.
The Legislation Clinic is a natural outgrowth of the Moritz College of Law's decision a decade ago to include a Legislation course in the required first-year curriculum, making it one of only a handful of American law schools with such a curriculum.
The accompanying faculty strength and student experience in the legislative area, coupled with our location in the state capitol and the college's interdisciplinary Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies, render the college an ideal setting for the Legislation Clinic.
The increasing devolution from the U.S. Congress to the state legislatures of many key public policy issues, along with the advent of legislative term limits in Ohio (which for the first time forced legislators from office at the conclusion of 123rd Ohio General Assembly in December 2000), make this an especially important time to operate the Legislation Clinic.
Under the guidance of Professor and Clinic Director Steven F. Huefner and Clinical Professor Terri Enns '96, the Legislation Clinic has now placed over 100 second- and third-year law students at a variety of locations around the Ohio Statehouse. Some Clinic students work at the Legislative Service Commission, while others assist the various leadership caucuses of the Ohio Senate or the Ohio House of Representatives, individual members of the General Assembly, or other state government offices.
Professor Huefner, a 1991 graduate of Columbia Law School and former law clerk to Judge David S. Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, arrived at the College of Law in 2000 after serving for five years as Assistant Senate Legal Counsel in the United States Senate.
Professor Enns, a 1996 Moritz graduate, brings to the clinic a wealth of invaluable experience from three years of service as Counsel to the Ohio State Senate Minority Caucus.
A key component of the clinic is a twice-weekly classroom experience at which students and faculty engage in discussions addressing state legislative processes, politics, and participants. Readings for the classroom sessions are often interdisciplinary in nature, and each semester a number of individuals knowledgeable about the Ohio General Assembly participate as outside speakers. Clinic guests have included current and former members of the Ohio General Assembly, the United States Congress, representatives of the executive branch of Ohio state government, key legislative staff members, leaders of the Ohio Lobbying Association, and members of public interest groups.
Enthusiastic feedback from both students and their legislative sponsors confirms that the clinic is providing a valuable service to the legislative community, while at the same time giving students rich opportunities to acquire new perspectives and learn first-hand about the interface between law and politics.
In addition, the clinic provides connections to the larger university community and to agencies of state government. In October 2000, the Ohio Legislative Service Commission invited Professor Huefner to speak at a Continuing Legal Education seminar for attorneys in public practice. He addressed the place of legislation education in a law school curriculum, drawing upon both the Moritz College of Law's experience with the first-year legislation course and the aspirations of the Legislation Clinic.
In February 2002, the Legislation Clinic sponsored the first in a series of one-day conferences devoted to a public policy issue of particular relevance at the state legislative level, and has since sponsored these conferences every two years. The Clinic's conferences have brought together legislators, academics, and other observers of or participants in the legislative process.