Certificate Program in Law and Government
The Certificate Program in Law and Government provides students with a significant educational experience in the field of public law. Through personalized and rigorous training, students develop an understanding of the legal structure, function and operations of national, state and local government institutions. The program provides knowledge of the ways in which public policy is made and modified and the methods used to effectively influence formulation of law and policy.
The Certificate Program in Law and Government requires 20 hours of specialized study as part of the 90 hours required to earn the J.D. Participation in the certificate program is open to 15 students from each class. Core courses include constitutional and administrative law, legislation, state and local government law, state constitutional law, and public policy studies. Specialty seminars may cover such topics as natural resource law, land-use regulation and employment law.
First-year students interested in admission to the program must enroll in the introductory law and government course offered in the spring semester. In addition to the introductory course, the program requires four additional courses, a major paper and a practicum.
Willamette's Pioneering Law and Government Program
From its inception, Willamette University College of Law has maintained a unique and valued relationship with the leading legal and governmental institutions in the state. Located directly across the street from the Oregon Capitol and the state Supreme Court, the College of Law has a long history of successfully translating the capital city's rich political and legal environments into a living laboratory for Willamette law students interested in careers in government and the public sector, with advocacy organizations, or as elected officials.
The college's proximity to key government agencies and state courts provides numerous opportunities for students to gain practical, first-hand experience in lawmaking and policy administration. The Certificate Program in Law and Government, administered by the Center for Law and Government, gives students unprecedented access to some of the state's most influential policy-makers and respected legal scholars through externships and clerkships. Students enrolled in the certificate program work for federal district court and state appellate courts, the state attorney general, the governor, state representatives and senators, lobbying firms, legislative counsels, and public policy and advocacy groups.
Law Reform at Willamette
The Certificate Program in Law and Government is enriched by its relationship with several government agencies. The Oregon Law Commission, the state's official law-reform agency, is housed at the College of Law. Willamette also is home to the Public Policy Research Center, which works with state agencies and the legislature on critical research projects. These organizations provide students with unique opportunities to engage in policy development and law-reform activities.
Preparing for Careers in Law and Government
Graduates of the certificate program are readily qualified to work not only for legislatures and state agencies, but also for private law firms with a regulatory practice. Possible career paths for certificate program graduates include attorney positions throughout state, county and municipal government, as well as elected positions. Other possible careers include working for public interest organizations, nonprofit corporations and lobbyists. In addition, private law firms involved in representing clients before federal and state regulatory agencies hire attorneys with a practical knowledge of public law, governmental operations and public policy issues.
To be eligible to receive a Certificate, a Certificate candidate must:
- Have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher to be eligible for admittance into the Certificate Program;
- Apply and be admitted to the Certificate Program;
- Complete a total of nineteen hours in the Certificate Program courses listed below; and
- Receive a cumulative GPA of 2.8 in the Certificate Program courses, including Constitutional Law I and II, all of which must be taken on a graded basis.*
* Students must have the practical ability to take and complete all courses required for the Law and Government Certificate prior to graduation. If, for any reason, a Certificate candidate is unable to complete all courses prior to graduation, the student shall either opt to graduate on time without the Certificate and/or continue at the College of Law for such additional time as is necessary to complete the Certificate requirements.
1L Required Introductory Course (3 hours)
- 116: Lawmaking Process
2L/3L Required Core Courses (14-15 hours)
- 216: Legislation
- 255: Administrative Law
- 256: Public Policy Studies
- 304: State and Local Government Law
- Public Law Seminar (e.g. Advanced Topics in Public Law and Policy; Advanced Administrative Law; Topics in Natural Resources Law: consult with Program Director)
2L/3L Required Practicum Experience (2 hours)
A faculty approved and supervised research project with a written work product prepared for use by and under the direction of a faculty-approved external placement. Does not satisfy graduation writing requirement.
Note: For students pursuing a Certificate with emphasis in a substantive area the Practicum writing project must be in the substantive area selected for emphasis.
2L/3L Graduation Writing Requirement
Certificate students must satisfy their graduation writing requirement through one of the five Required Core Courses listed above.
Course Work Leading to a Certificate with a Substantive Emphasis
Students also have the option to take course work leading to a Certificate with a substantive emphasis. The Certificate in Law and Government "with emphasis in" a substantive area is earned by adding five hours to the nineteen hours required for the Certificate in Law and Government. Those five hours are drawn from one of the following substantive areas: Criminal Justice, Environment and Natural Resources, Employment/Human Resources, Public Administration, or Comparative Public Law. For students pursuing an emphasis, the Practicum writing project must be in the substantive area selected for emphasis.
“At other law schools, students take classes about government and the law. At Willamette, our students help form and reform law by working directly with the Legislature, state agencies, local government and key public interest groups as early as their first year of law school.”