Chris Micheli is an adjunct professor in McGeorge School of Law’s JD and online MSL programs. He teaches the Legislatures and Lawmaking and Lobbying and Politics courses. Micheli, a lobbyist for over 25 years, is the founding partner of Aprea & Micheli, Inc., a governmental relations and advocacy firm in Sacramento, California.
Micheli recently spoke with Clémence Kucera, the Assistant Dean for Graduate Law Programs at McGeorge, for a webinar. He highlighted how the online MSL in Governmental Law & Policy degree helps to advance a lobbying or legislative career.
Types of Lobbyists
Lobbyists, as defined by Micheli, represent clients and their issues and perspectives on legislation. They advocate and educate legislators, appointed officials, and staff on rulemaking activities and their client’s views.
There are four types of lobbyists – three that work in the private sector and government lobbyists. Micheli is a contract lobbyist, which means he is contracted to represent companies or organizations in the state. He meets with public officials or politicians to relay his client’s position on legislation that could have an effect on their industry.
Trade Association Lobbyists work in both nonprofit and for-profit associations in various areas such as business, labor, and the environment. Lobbyists actually have their own trade association, the Institute of Governmental Advocates (IGA). In-House Lobbyists are typically employed by a business or corporation. And for both trade association and in-house lobbyists, their employers are their only clients.
There are around 200 agencies, departments, boards, and commissions under the executive branch in California alone. Each of those executive branch entities has a lobbyist. Their titles vary depending on where they work within the government. A Deputy Secretary for Legislation works at the agency level, while a Deputy Director for Legislative Affairs works at the department level.
The Importance of the MSL in Government Law and Policy Degree for Lobbyists
Micheli says there are two reasons why having a legal background is important for lobbyists.
Understanding the Law
The first reason is being able to understand the law. Lobbyists need to know how laws and regulations are written, developed, implemented, interpreted, and enforced. The same applies to knowledge of regulations.
The second reason is the skills that a legal program like McGeorge’s MSL degree can develop. On a day-to-day basis, lobbyists will use research and analytical skills to develop factsheets or interpret laws and their possible deficiencies. They will need oral and written advocacy skills to write advocacy letters or testify before a legislative or regulatory agency.
Ultimately, there are thousands of private or government sector lobbying positions where McGeorge’s MSL in Government Law and Policy degree would be beneficial. The degree provides real-world knowledge of the law for legal careers at the local, state, and federal agency levels. It is designed to enhance skills in lawmaking, regulation, election law, and lobbying for people who do not want to practice law.
Watch the webinar to learn more about lobbyists and Professor Micheli’s courses.
How McGeorge’s MSL Degree Differs From Other Programs
Micheli noted how McGeorge’s program differs from other MSL degree programs. “The Lobbying and Politics course will give students a very clear idea of what you do as a lobbyist,” said Micheli. There is exposure to how to be a lobbyist, the rules that regulate them, and some of the specialized forms of lobbying. It’s more in-depth than conceptual discussions about being a lobbyist or the different influences on elected officials.
The MSL program provides practical teaching and skills and covers the aspects of what you’ll be doing every day as a lobbyist. And the courses are taught by professionals who practice in the field, so it’s not just a theoretical approach. For example, you’ll learn how to write an effective advocacy letter. You’ll also learn how to prepare and give testimony in a legislative committee or before a rulemaking agency. The skills that you’ll learn go beyond an academic viewpoint.
Professor Micheli wrote, “A Practitioner’s Guide to Lobbying and Advocacy in California”, a renowned textbook in Lobbying and Politics.
The MSL in Government Law and Policy Degree at McGeorge
McGeorge’s Government Law and Policy MSL degree is designed to be convenient for working professionals. The online program has asynchronous lectures, weekly interactive discussions, and a collegial online learning community. The courses prepare students to advance their careers with practical, real-world assignments and regular feedback from professors who are active in their field.
Students build marketable expertise with the guidance of expert faculty chosen for outstanding teaching and their depth of knowledge in government law, water resources, or environmental law. Courses emphasize real-world knowledge and the development of practical skills. The programs are convenient and are specifically designed for working professionals or students who need flexibility due to career, family, or other obligations, and who want to further their education and advance their career.