Much of law school is spent learning about statutes and case law already on the books. The Legislative Clinic gives KU Law students a chance not only to observe but also actively participate in the formation of new laws. Students are assigned as interns to state legislators during the legislative session in nearby Topeka. Their responsibilities may include:
- taking notes at committee hearings
- conducting research
- assisting with constituent communications
- analyzing bills
- briefing legislators on potential issues
Some students even draft and edit legislation. In addition to their fieldwork, interns participate in a seminar on the legislative process and write research reports. The clinic, open to second- and third-year students, is in the spring semester.
A window into the policy process: Grant Treaster, L’15
Grant Treaster, L’15, wanted to hone his legal research and policy analysis skills in a hands-on environment. Professor Jennifer Schmidt’s Legislative Clinic enabled him to do both.
Students meet weekly, but most learning takes place at the statehouse in Topeka, where students intern with legislators. Treaster was paired with Sen. Jeff King of Independence, who serves as vice-president of the Senate and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Treaster conducted legal research, compiled data, wrote memos and presented his findings to the Senate Judiciary Committee, a rare opportunity for a student intern. His work centered on a bill to increase penalties for drunk drivers whose actions result in bodily harm to their victims. While Kansas previously charged drunk drivers who killed their victims with felonies, those whose victims were injured but did not die faced only misdemeanor charges. Treaster researched sentencing guidelines and compiled data, which he shared during his presentation. Ultimately, he followed the bill’s progress from the initial drafting stages, through committee, to passage on the floor.
Treaster touts the invaluable networking opportunities the clinic provides and the legal experience for those pursuing government or litigation careers. “You get to work closely with all kinds of people in Kansas government, from research offices to the Attorney General’s office, to different state agencies,” he said. “It provides a great window into how policy is formed.”
Learn more about Treaster's clinic experience.
In addition to their fieldwork, interns participate in a seminar on the legislative process and write research reports. The clinic, open to second- and third-year students, is in the spring semester.
No application is required. Students enter the clinic by following standard enrollment procedures for:
- LAW 955 Legislative Clinic
Students are assigned to state legislators or other offices that participate in the legislative process during the legislative session. A 2-hour seminar accompanies the fieldwork. A paper with two drafts is a required part of this seminar. FLD.
The class is not offered for the Fall 2016 semester.