Legislative Drafting and Public Policy

Section 1ZO, Fall 20

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 7/12
Credits: 3

Course Description

This course provides students with opportunities for the practical application of legislative drafting and statutory interpretation. After a brief review of the legislative process, separation of powers issues, the theories of judicial interpretation of statutes and regulations, and dealing with the press (both as a lawyer and as a legislator), we will engage in practical exercises related to the drafting, consideration, and adoption of legislation (in a legislative committee context, with students assuming the role of “Senators”). Each student will draft a bill on a topic of interest to that student (either something based on, or amendments to, an existing statute from somewhere, which is what most students do, or something original), write a substantial research paper that supports that bill and will serve as a “report” or “commentary” on the bill, debate and vote on amendments offered by other members of the class to the student’s bill, and draft, debate, and vote on amendments to proposals offered by other members of the class. In addition, students also will have the opportunity to strengthen their oral advocacy skills by arguing in support of their bill and for and against proposals and amendments offered by others in the class. The instructors bring more than 50 years of experience interpreting, drafting, and advocating for and against legislation at the state and federal level. Among the over 300 bills and research papers submitted over the years, past topics have included: domestic violence, redistricting, sexual harassment, gun violence, recycling, human rights, hostile corporate takeovers, fetal abuse, dram shop legislation, non-tidal wetlands, campaign finance reform, conflicts of interest, criminal record checks, drug testing of public employees, surrogate parenting, workfare, hate-violence, and landlord-tenant law reform. A list of topics addressed in the past will be posted on Canvas.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Midterm Type (if any): None
Description: None

Final Type (if any): None
Description: None
Final Exam Notes:


Written Work Product
Written Work Product: A bill (as described in the Course Description), a research paper that will serve as a “report” or “commentary” on the bill, a final draft of the bill (not a re-write of the research paper) incorporating amendments adopted by the class, and 1-2 amendments to bills offered by others in the class. Papers will be due via EXPO by noon on Monday, October 12. NOTE: pursuant to Law School policy, the paper does not satisfy the Upper-Level Writing Requirement unless a student (who has completed the Skills Requirement at the time of the seminar) timely submits a completed Writing Requirement Intent Form to the Student Records Office. Retroactive exceptions will not be granted. Students who have not yet satisfied the Skills Requirement may not petition for the paper to satisfy the Upper-Level Writing Requirement.

Other Work

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: Because the credits in this course count toward the JD Program Professional Skills requirement, JD candidates will be given enrollment priority for this class. Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: Yes
First Day Attendance Required: Yes
Course Notes: The course will first meet from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on August 26 and 27, and September 2 and 3. We then will take a five-week break for students to complete their research papers, which will be due via EXPO by noon (EST) on Monday, October 12. The seminar will then resume beginning on Wednesday, October 14 for student presentations of their legislative proposals at 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on as many Wednesdays and Thursdays through Thursday, November 19 as are necessary for there to be one class for each student presentation. Any enrolled student who is not able to attend the first class should contact one of the instructors prior to that first class.

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: Yes
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*Yes means professor requires everyone in the course to submit a substantial research paper (which is the requirement standard in Academic Policies), so no paperwork required to be submitted to SRO. No means student must timely submit paperwork to SRO if intending to use a paper in this course to satisfy the Writing Requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

General Information

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens:
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: