The Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs at the Western New England University School of Law was established in 2000 to offer students the opportunity to participate in activities relating to the legislative process. Recently, traditional laws areas, such as contract, property, and tort, have evolved to include underpinnings of statutory law, and criminal law is completely intertwined with statutory law. Through participation in the Institute, students engage in the practical application of law by assisting public officials in drafting legislation, exploring the codification and progressive development of laws, and examining recently enacted bills. This allows them to experience an area of law that has become indispensable to most practicing lawyers.
Students gain further exposure through the Institute’s course offerings (including Legislation and Administrative law), independent studies, internships, and externships, which provide students with a thorough understanding in how to interpret and draft statutes as well as in the intricacies of the legislative process.
Additional events offered at the Institute, such as seminars, workshops, and legislative hearings, are open to alumni and the general public. The Institute is a great resource for alumni, state and local officials, and practicing attorneys who are interested in a variety of continuing legal education (CLE) programs offered both in conjunction with state bar associations and independently of them.
State Legislative Hearings
Each year, the Institute has the privilege of hosting public hearings of committees of the State Legislature, such as the Ad Hoc Committee on Adoption, the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, the Joint Committee on Healthcare, and the Joint Committee on Government Regulations.
These hearings make it possible for residents of western Massachusetts to voice their opinions without having to travel to Boston. The Institute welcomes other legislative committees and public bodies to conduct their proceedings at the Law School. Events held over the last five years have included participation of the following Legislative committees:
- Joint Committee on Healthcare
- Joint Committee on the Judiciary
- Joint Committee on Education, Arts, and Humanities
- Special House Subcommittee on Court
- Commission Relating to Indigent Criminal Defendants
Conferences and Seminars
Each term, the Institute sponsors numerous conferences and seminars on a wide range of topics and their legal implications. Some, like the Supreme Court Review Conference, are held annually, while others focus on current events and public concerns. Some of the events held at the Institute have included:
- Panels on the 2000 Presidential Election
- Welfare Recipients in the Workplace
- Seminar on Women in Politics
- Conference on Legal Responses to Terrorism
Aside from the usual conferences and seminars held at the Institute, special events are hosted as well, which have brought local and national media to the University, such as:
- Gubernatorial and Mayoral Candidate Debates
- A Conversation with Senator John Kerry
- 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education
Internships and Externships
Legislative Process Simulation and Externships
Through classroom simulations and externships, students are divided into working groups and are required to research legislation topics identified by members of the legislature and Professor Wolf. They must then draft bills, prepare testimony, and present their bills before a simulated committee of the Massachusetts legislature. The students also work directly with legislative members.
Siena College Summer Internship Program
Each summer, the School of Law hosts students from Siena College in Loudonville, NY, which sponsors a unique program at three American law schools for its best-qualified students interested in a career in the law. Through this program, sponsored by the Institute with the cooperation of Representative Gale Candaras ’82 (D-Wilbraham), students spend eight weeks at the School of Law engaged in a legislative project, undertaking legal research, field interviews, and visits to the Legislature in Boston.
To learn more about the Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs, contact Arthur Wolf, Professor of Law and Director of the Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs, at email@example.com or 413-782-1435.