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 governments. The program provides students with knowledge and skills about how to make,modify and influence public law and policy.

The Certificate Program in Law and Government requires 16 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. First-year students interested in admission to the program must enroll in the Lawmaking Process course offered in the spring semester, which allows students hands-on involvement in formulating legislation, regulations, policy and programs.  Other required core courses include federal constitutional law and legislation. Students are also expected to write a substantial public law research paper in one of the wide variety pf public law seminars offered each year, such as State Constitutional Law, First Amendment, Substantive Natural Resources, various advanced administrative constitutional or criminal law seminars, International Human Rights, and Employment Discrimination.  In addition, students are required to complete a practicum project in the practicum course or another clinic or externship pertaining to law and government.

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.

Program Requirements

To be eligible to receive a Certificate, a Certificate candidate must:

  1. Have a cumulative GPA of 2.50 or higher to be eligible for admittance into the Certificate Program;
  2. Apply and be admitted to the Certificate Program;
  3. Complete a total of sixteen hours in the Certificate Program courses listed below; and
  4. Receive a cumulative GPA of 2.80 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  (Students may satisfy this requirement as 2L/3L with permission of the program director)

2L/3L Required Core Courses (14-15 hours)

  • 216: Legislation
  • 255: Administrative Law
  • 256: Public Policy Studies
  • 304: State and Local Government Law
  • At least one Public Law Seminar (e.g. Advanced Topics in Public Law and Policy; Advanced Administrative Law; Topics in Natural Resources Law: consult with Program Director to determine whether a seminar qualifies)

2L/3L Required Practicum Project (2 hours +)

  • 476: Law & Government Practicum

A faculty approved and supervised research project with a substantial written work product. The work must be prepared during a faculty-approved external placement. This project 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 Research Writing Requirement

Certificate students must satisfy their research writing requirement through a Required Core Course.

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 (e.g. criminal justice, employment and human resources, health law and policy) is earned by adding five hours of credit in substantive area to the sixteen hours required for the Certificate in Law and Government.  For students pursuing an emphasis, the Practicum writing project must be in the substantive area selected for emphasis.

Program Faculty

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“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.”