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Capital Certificate in Public Law & Policy Requirements & Curriculum

To receive a Certificate in Public Law & Policy, students must complete a minimum of 14 units approved by the Certificate Director.

Unit Distribution


  • Legislation & Regulation — three (3) units (starting with the class of 2017)
  • Introduction to Capital Lawyering — two (2) units
  • Field Placement/Externship — three (3) units

Strongly Recommended

Core Executive Branch Coverage:

  • Administrative Law — three (3) units

Core Legislative Branch Coverage:

  • Legislative Process, Strategy and Ethics — two (2) units
  • Legislative Decision-Making: Power & Influence in California — two (2) units


To fulfill remaining units, students choose from a number of electives that focus on aspects of lawmaking, government structure and issues related to public lawyering.

Required Courses

Legislation & Regulation — three (3) units (starting with class of 2017)

This required three (3)-credit course reflects the reality that administrative agencies play a critical role in our legal system and that legal rules now are primarily articulated in statutes and regulations, rather than through the common law. The substantive knowledge and analytical skills taught in this course are foundational for a number of electives and for practice.

Introduction to Capital Lawyering — two (2) units

This course introduces students to the lawyer's role in developing, modifying, implementing, advocating, and influencing public policy, including:  legislation, regulations, executive orders, court orders, and other policy edicts.  While primary focus is devoted to the lawyer's role in the context of California state government, the course touches upon the full array of policymaking venues and processes, including:  Congress, the California Legislature, state (CA) or federal agencies, California's initiative process, the California or federal courts, and agencies of local government.  Students will learn and practice doing policy analysis; learn the essential organization and procedures of the various policymaking venues; be able to consider and weigh strategic implications associated with the various venues and processes; conduct research using a variety of sources unique to policymaking in California and other settings; learn and develop skills for advocacy, negotiation and compromise in a policymaking setting; and practice applying course knowledge and skills to important public policy matters of the day.  Students will complete a project on an actual and current public policy problem that culminates with a paper applying knowledge and skills acquired from the course.  

Field Placement/Externship/Legal Clinic — three (3) units

Students choose an appropriate placement and perform on-site legal work as externs under the supervision of field placement supervisors in governmental units which specialize in matters of local, state or federal government law and policy or in a legislative office, a lobbyist's office, or in the legislative office of a government agency.  Evening students with day jobs that meet the requirements of the field placement may receive a waiver of this requirement.

Strongly Recommended Elective Courses

Administrative Law — three (3) units

Administrative Law is the law relating to administrative agencies in both the state and federal governments. All agencies, from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to the State Cemetery and Funeral Bureau, are required to comply with administrative law. Agencies make legally binding laws, called regulations, and have the power to decide who has violated the laws they have created. This course will teach students the law governing agencies and how to challenge or defend agency actions. This course will also examine such topics as the separation of powers (and other constitutional issues), state statutory law (especially the California Administrative Procedure Act), the role the judiciary has in controlling agencies, whether agencies can take actions for political reasons, and the procedures agencies must provide for people who apply for benefits.

Legislative Process, Strategy and Ethics — two (2) units

This classroom course introduces students to the techniques involved in bill screening, monitoring, analysis and drafting, legislative intent research, legislative advocacy, and special rules of professional conduct applicable to politicians, government officials and lobbyists. It is also intended to help prepare students who want to continue their studies in the legislative arena for potential field placements during the spring semester in a legislative office, a lobbyist office, or in the legislative office of a government agency. (P/F)

Legislative Decision-Making: Power & Influence in California —two (2) units

This course explores how power and influence operate in the California Legislature.  The first part of the course examines the processes and pressures a California legislator typically encounters prior to casting a vote in the Legislature, including campaigns for local and state office; fundraising; the influence of political parties and partisan leadership; grassroots supporters; and Sacramento-based interests.  Once a legislator is understood in this context, the second part of the course develops theories of legislative persuasion, including a blend of traditional advocacy skills and political strategy.  The course includes a mock legislative hearing exercise at the State Capitol.

Specialized Elective Courses

Administrative Adjudication Clinic 2 (P/F)
California Initiative Seminar1 2
Legislative & Public Policy Clinic 2,2
Election Law 2
Legislation and Statutory Interpretation 3
Local Law in Practice — Advice and Litigation 2
McGeorge Law Review Greensheets 2 P/F
Negotiation and Settlements Seminar 2 or 3
Representing Local Agencies: Advocate, Neutral Counselor, Risk Assessor 1

1 Offered only when there is a California election with initiatives on the ballot.

Non-Course Requirements

Capital Activities Planning Board (CAP Board)

Students apply to serve on the CAP Board, which includes two members of the Capital Center Alumni Board, a CDO representative, and a faculty supervisor. The CAP Board plans and carries out the Capital Lawyering series of activities.

Capital Lawyering I, II, III

Capital Lawyering Program students participate in a sequence of activities on-campus and in the capital designed to introduce and prepare students for the range of capital lawyering careers and the excitement of making policy.


Contact Adrienne Brungess, Director of the Capital Certificate in Public Law & Policy Program
Email | 916.739.7170