Law 692:  Legislative Projects

Course Classification: Field Placement 

Letter from Professor Mool:

If you are interested in taking the Legislative Projects course, I encourage you to read this letter carefully.  Since this class is unique, enrollees must understand the time commitment and logistics for this class. In this letter, I will go over the basic requirements, and answer some frequently asked questions. Please call or email me if you have further questions. 

This four-hour class gives a brief overview of the legislative process, and then places students on partisan legislative staffs in Springfield for an internship experience. Once you are admitted to the class, you will receive an email requesting your resume, day of the week you can be in Springfield, and your party preference, if any. 

We will meet in Champaign from 10:00am-12:00 pm on Wednesday for the first week of class. In late January, you will meet your supervisors in Springfield, who will provide you with work and a schedule for the next few months. You will need to spend one full day each week in Springfield, either a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday are possible, but it must be one full day. Most staffs are flexible about which of those three days you choose. Mondays and Fridays are NOT allowed as work days in Springfield. As an intern, you are expected to go to Springfield during most weeks from late January until late April. The supervisors in Springfield try to be flexible, and with advance permission from your supervisor and myself, you may work out an alternative arrangement. 

This class is an excellent way to learn about state government, and receive some very practical training. If you have an interest in government relations, this class is a great way to begin your career. Even if you have a different career path in mind, the insight that you will gain from participating in the political process is invaluable. Interns draft legislation and analyze bills, while interacting with our legislative leaders in Illinois. 

Here is the tradeoff: you will receive a wonderful learning experience, but you need to commit to working about twelve hours per week. Some of the work can be done in Champaign, but you do need to get to Springfield at least once a week and you need to meet the deadlines that you and the supervisors agree upon. The legislative staffs will treat you like a reliable professional, so we need to make sure that we can deliver what we promise. The past few years have been quite successful, and the future success of this program depends on competent work and commitment from you.

 Here are answers to frequently asked questions:

 How will I get to Springfield?

It is a 90-minute drive, and you are responsible for getting yourself there. You will be assigned to a particular staff. In past years, many students have arranged car pools with others on their staff. Interstate 72 takes you right into the center of Springfield. Parking can be something of a problem: you can park on the street several blocks away, or if you arrive early enough, you can park in the Visitors Parking lot.  Unfortunately, supervisors do not provide you with a parking pass.

How should I dress?

Interns are required to dress in business attire while they are in Springfield.

Do I have to work on a partisan staff? What if I don't like the party?

Prior to the first class, I will determine your interest areas and party preferences, if any. The staff will review their resume and their input is considered in making assignments. I will do my best (and have been quite successful) in matching interns with the best placement. There is an opportunity to work with the Legislative Reference Bureau Unit, a non-partisan bill-drafting staff, if you would prefer not to work for either party.

Do I have to work over Spring Break?

While that is a decision that you and your supervisor have to make, most are flexible about exactly which days you work, as long as the work is finished.

Could this turn into a full-time job?

Most of the staffs indicated that they would hire the interns if they had an opening. Interns have been offered jobs upon completion of the semester in the past.

What type of work will I be doing?

It varies by staff, but primarily you will be doing legal research and bill analysis. The legislative staff often rely on U of I interns to conduct Internet searches to learn about other states' laws, and write bill analyses for pending legislation. You will attend Committee hearings and, in some cases, observe the House and Senate Floor.

How regularly will we meet in Champaign?

We will meet on Wednesday for the first week and the last week. You will meet with me in Springfield during the semester to ascertain how your semesters is proceeding. The bulk of the semester is focused on the work, not on actual class meetings. At the end of the semester, we will meet for one final class to wrap up the semester.

Is it hard to work with a professor who lives in Springfield?

I will communicate often by email, and I will see you in both Champaign and Springfield. I am available for phone conferences as well.

Why can’t I work on Monday or Friday in Springfield?

The legislature is not in Springfield on Mondays and Fridays in the Spring until May, when classes have concluded.

How will I be graded?

Supervisors rate your performance, and I factor that in with attendance, effort, and a brief paper at the end of the semester. The bulk of your grade will come from your own effort: if you show up when you say you will, turn in a satisfactory work product, dress and behave professionally, and attend the required meetings, you will do very well in this course.

Can I satisfy my upper level writing requirement with this course?

Yes, by special arrangement with me, you can. For most students, I require a ten page legal research paper about a legislative issue and an analysis of how your views of government have changed or been confirmed. If you would like to satisfy the writing requirement, you can skip that paper and instead turn in a major paper that meets all of the campus criteria (turn in two drafts, endnotes, length, etc.). 

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