Pitt Law's Semester in D.C. Program Launches New Policy Track


Contact: Cori Begg
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University of Pittsburgh School of Law Launches Semester in D.C. Policy Track
Pitt Law only law school in US to offer Semester in D.C. Program with graduate policy school

PITTSBURGH— The University of Pittsburgh School of Law announced the spring 2016 launch of a new Policy Track to the Semester in D.C. Program. The Policy Track is an addition to the longstanding Semester in D.C. Program, designed to offer the intensive training necessary to ensure student success in post-graduate policy-related jobs. Pitt Law is the only law school in the country to offer students a Semester in D.C. Program in conjunction with a graduate policy school.

The Semester in D.C. Program enables law students to gain full-time experience working with a non-profit or government office while engaging in a weekly seminar with fellow law students and Professor Elena Baylis, Pitt Law’s full-time faculty member in D.C. In partnership with the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), the new Semester in D.C. Program Policy Track will equip Pitt Law students with the skills that employers want from new policy professionals, such as: 

  • Policy Externship: The program is centered on the real-world experience of a policy-related internship in Washington with a government or nonprofit office.
  • Policy Colloquium: Students engage in regular meetings with Professor Baylis and their fellow students, alumni mentors, and other policy practitioners.
  • Policy skills classes: Pitt Law has developed two courses in Law-Making and Lobbying & Advocacy in conjunction with GSPIA and Washington-area alumni who do policy work.
  • Legal and policy perspectives: Law students take these courses jointly with GSPIA policy students to benefit from both the law and policy perspectives.

The two policy skills courses, the Law-Making Seminar and Lobbying & Advocacy, are carefully designed to complement each other:

  • Law-Making Seminar: Students discover the real-world dynamics of legislation, regulation, and policy implementation by talking directly with legislative staff, lobbyists, agency staff, and others who have worked directly on hot topics like the Affordable Care Act, immigration reform, and climate change regulations. They learn to analyze policy papers and write their own policy briefs.
  • Lobbying and Advocacy: GSPIA alumna and 15-year Hill/lobbying veteran Ali Bonebrake teaches students practical advocacy skills like drafting talking points, preparing for congressional hearings, and stakeholder mapping, culminating in a policy strategy presentation on a current policy topic for a hypothetical client.

To support this new, more robust curriculum, the Semester in D.C. Program will be offered only in the 2016-17 spring semester. This will enable Pitt Law’s D.C. faculty to prepare new courses and build a partnership with GSPIA, while ensuring a strong cohort of Law and GSPIA students in D.C. during the spring semester.

The Policy track also leverages Pitt Law’s position in D.C. to enhance law and policy curriculum in Pittsburgh. Law students in Pittsburgh may take the Law-Making and Lobbying courses via videoconference in the law school’s newly renovated Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy Jury Room. The Policy Track will build connections between the Law School and Pitt Law’s Washington office, enabling all students to benefit from the Semester in D.C. Program.

Formally established in 1895, the University of Pittsburgh School of Law is the oldest and largest law-school program in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Pitt’s law-school program prepares its students for real-world practice through traditional legal coursework as well as experiential learning opportunities in one of its seven law clinics. With nearly 10,000 alumni, Pitt’s School of Law emphasizes practical skills training and helping its students enter the field of law as practice-ready legal professionals.