Improve Environmental Justice

Improve Environmental Justice with a Degree in Water & Environmental Law

When you hear the word “racism,” your first thought probably leads to the obvious; prejudicial actions towards a group of people based on the color of their skin. But there are many facets of racism with destructive, far-reaching effects. 

Environmental racism is a form of institutional racism leading to landfills, incinerators, and hazardous waste disposal – essentially, environmental hazards – that have disproportionate impacts in communities of color. In the 1950s, the term “environmental justice” emerged to describe the efforts to combat these hazards and find solutions. Back then, a study that traced the federal government’s bulk placement of hazardous waste sites within African-American communities was brought to light.

Improve Environmental Justice

The biggest recent example of environmental injustice includes the Flint water crisis, where the residents of a town in Michigan lost access to the most basic survival need – clean drinking water. The issue disproportionately affected minorities and low socio-economic classes that could not fix the problem, find other sources of water, or leave. 

Environmental racism generally results from the actions of large companies and the government. In those situations, it can be hard to feel as if you have the ability to enact change as an individual. But you do. 

McGeorge School of Law has two programs that lead to environmental impact: an LLM and an MSL program in Water and Environmental Law. The degrees provide value to land use planners, engineers, environmental consultants, public information officers, lobbyists, public agency and legislative staff, and others who seek expertise in this continually evolving field without a law degree.

Addressing Environmental Justice

In order to achieve environmental justice, there are two frameworks that must be addressed: stopping environmental wrongs and promoting environmental goods. Environmental bads involve toxins, carcinogens, and other toxins that disproportionately affect people of color. Environmental goods involve access to recreational opportunities, parks, and greens.

Clean energy, clean air, and access to public health for all income communities are all aspects of environmental equity. 

Achieving Environmental Justice

The one true way to achieve environmental justice is to redistribute the power. The decision-making must revert to the vulnerable communities that are impacted by environmental justice issues. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that can happen in a day. There are plenty of steps in between that can be taken, including:

  1. Education of pressing issues and effects of practices and policies that are in place
  2. Elevation of the voices of the communities that are impacted
  3. Advocating for policies that help the community
  4. Continuous accountability demanded from those in charge
  5. Participation in the decision-making process
  6. Promotion of environmental health

What Can You Do?

Obtaining your MSL or LLM degree in Water and Environmental Law opens up possibilities to enact change. Planners and engineers are a line of defense in ensuring that environmental hazards don’t make their way out to the community. Lobbyists advocate, pressuring elected officials to do what is good for their constituents. They become experts in their field, using their knowledge to let politicians know what is happening on the ground. Legislative staff can help create policy. Consultants assess the risk and advise projects on a path with little destruction. There are many options that the advanced degree can help you achieve. 

McGeorge’s MSL and LLM programs provide the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills that are critical in today’s complex regulatory environment. We have a distinguished faculty of experts in the field. Plus, our program is online, allowing students location and scheduling flexibility. Whatever other obligations you have in life, our online, asynchronous program lets you seamlessly integrate your education into them. 

For those not looking for a Juris Doctor who work in the legal or environmental field, our MSL gives you legal education without having to become a lawyer. And for attorneys who want to dive into their specialty, the LLM program is a perfect fit. What are you waiting for? Contact our admissions office today to join the environmental justice movement.

Margaret Vick Faculty Spotlight

Faculty Spotlight with Margaret Vick

Professor Margaret Vick first took water law as JD student at McGeorge 40 years ago last May. At that time, the leading US expert on water law was teaching at McGeorge. She had also always been fascinated by the subject thanks to her upbringing in the middle of a major Western irrigation district, so all in all, there was no better institution to pursue her passion. McGeorge, essentially, was the perfect fit. Today, she believes that this program might be the perfect fit for many prospective students thanks to some unexpected and profound reasons.

Margaret Vick Faculty Spotlight

Always the Right School

Margaret’s first job after graduating was focused on water law in Arizona, and she has continued to hone her skill in her chosen area of practice ever since. Only recently retired, she stays busy teaching for her alma mater and pursuing research projects in the area. “There’s a growing number of us who call ourselves water law nerds. That is our area of interest and expertise,” she says with a smile.

On a more personal note, when Margaret’s children were in high school, she did not want to be tied to the private practice schedule of deadlines and client commitments but wanted to remain active in the field. So she went back to McGeorge, studied some more, and in 2009 received her JSD, this time in International Water Law. This added degree rounded out her education and provided a global perspective.

Water Law’s Unexpected Social Impact and Importance

There is so much more to water law than many prospective students might imagine. Here’s some context: Margaret grew up in New Mexico, where interaction with the native peoples was quite common. In law school, her background with water law led to a clerkship and first job with a firm representing many Native American tribes in Arizona. This sub-specialty, as she calls it, has remained close to her heart and motivating in her career.

Her private practice, focused on representing several tribes and organizations with a focus on tribal government and tribal water rights. “It’s a fascinating, personally rewarding, and fun experience working with tribal leaders and helping them understand the complexities involved,” she remarks. “I often would describe myself to tribal councils as a translator; my job was to take the legal complexities of water law and the added complexities of tribal rights, and translate them into a way that these leaders could make informed decisions about what they needed to do to protect their people for their future sustainability and their viability as a government.” 

The Far-Reaching Value of a McGeorge Degree

Her work also touched upon the effects of climate change on the water sources for these tribes, such as the diminishing quantity of water in the crucial Colorado River. On facing these harder truths, Margaret attests “I think it’s critical. Water allocations in the West are based on historical norms that are no longer present.” From a tribal to federal level, planning infrastructure, delivery of supplies, and economic returns all depend on the physical landscape. “Knowing as much about meteorology and climate as possible for a non-scientist and the legal structures that will still apply even though the natural environment is rapidly changing, is critical to being able to work in our future with variable conditions.”

Margaret knows the deeply applicable value of her degree and learned experience. “That’s what I have been able to bring to the table for my clients; a very broad perspective on legal systems gained from practice and study.” As conditions change, we need to be able to offer proposals for future water uses that are informed by what is happening in other locations. “That’s the value of the different programs that McGeorge offers: courses in the domestic water and environmental laws of the United States and courses in international water and environmental law. I took advantage of this 40 years ago, again in 2009 in the graduate program and current students have these same opportunities.” she adds. 

Study Now, Assure a Exciting Future

Both climate change and social impact are pivotal issues to consider when going into water law. In a field inextricably focused on the future, prospective students naturally want to choose a cutting-edge program with the longevity to match. “In water law, McGeorge has always had the leading experts,” Margaret assures. “If you want to learn from the practitioners in the field who have written the seminal textbooks, McGeorge is the place to be.”

The credentials are unmatched. Interested in international water law?

The leading scholars and practitioners are right here. In fact, Margaret recently published an article about water law in the latest edition of Western Legal History, a Ninth Circuit Historical Society Journal. In her important piece she illuminates tribal water rights and provides an historical perspective on the legal principles and language used. The paper’s second part provides a guide to a few key water terms frequently in the news related to the Colorado River, often incorrectly. Learning from faculty members like Margaret is one one the greatest assets McGeorge can provide its students. 

We Need People Like You to Find Solutions

On top of these advantages for water law study specifically, McGeorge is one of the leading institutions in Government Law and Policy, a field you need to understand in order to lead in this area – what is our future going to be, and how are we going to meet the increasing demand with decreased supply?

“As a water lawyer, the most conflict over water occurs when you don’t have enough of it. Then you need creative, learned people to find solutions. Dealing with that variability and addressing those issues is going to require more people.” This is how you know that your advanced degree from McGeorge comes with immense growth potential and upward mobility; you can be one of the people who works for a better future through the study of water law. 

Legal Analysis

Understanding Legal Analysis: Earn an Online MSL in Government Law & Policy

In the United States, 14.4% of Americans earn a higher degree after completing their bachelor’s. For those who don’t want to become attorneys but want to utilize legal analysis and reasoning in their careers, an online Master of Science in Law (MSL) is a perfect fit. Understanding Legal Analysis is crucial in this context because it forms the backbone of the skill set you’ll develop.

Whether you work in law and policy or another field, an online MSL enhances many professions. The degree complements those who work as local, state, and federal agency employees, lobbyists, legislative staff, and more. By gaining a deep understanding of legal analysis, you can make informed decisions that guide your organization through complex regulations.

Legal Analysis

McGeorge School of Law offers both hybrid and online MSL options. Our online Government Law and Policy MSL degree is built on the foundation of McGeorge’s nationally-ranked program in public law and its renowned Capital Center for Law & Policy. Our degree opens up opportunities by allowing you to shift to the legal aspects of your career.

What is Legal Analysis?

Legal analysis is the systematic process of examining legal issues, statutes, and case law to draw conclusions or make arguments. It involves identifying legal issues, applying relevant laws, and reasoning through the implications to arrive at a well-founded conclusion. This method is commonly used by lawyers to solve legal problems, however, it’s also extremely valuable for non-lawyers in various fields who need to understand legal documents and regulations.

For non-lawyers working in or around the legal field, understanding legal documents allows you to further yourself in your career and is a highly marketable skill. Legal analysis builds the ability to read and understand contracts, regulations, and other compliance issues.

Courses at McGeorge

Throughout your MSL, McGeorge offers a few different courses that hone the skills needed for legal analysis, such as:

  1. Introduction to Legal Analysis: This course provides students with an overview of the American legal system, including the sources and development of law as well as the dispute resolution process. The course further focuses on developing an understanding of how lawyers read and analyze cases, statutes, and legal documents, and provides an introduction to legal reasoning. A primer on legal research with a focus on locating and evaluating the weight of legal sources is also included.
  2. Analytical Skills (Contracts): This graduate course offers a practical introduction to a foundational area of law, such as contracts, and to the legal method. Students learn best practices for studying law and developing foundational legal analytical skills so that they can read and understand case law, statutes, and regulations. These analytical skills include IRAC rule-based methodology as a structure for legal analysis, case-briefing, outlining, and test-taking. Students also practice negotiating and drafting agreements.

We also offer courses in policymaking and lawmaking. These courses develop practical skills such as drafting statutory language, bill analysis, and developing public policy.

Benefits of McGeorge

In addition to our legal analysis courses, our MSL program has a variety of other benefits. It is completely online, giving our students flexibility and freedom when it comes to obtaining a higher degree. The burden of time is a massive blocker for those who want to continue their education post-bachelor degree. Our online and asynchronous courses allow our students to study and continue with other obligations in life, whether work or personal. 

If you think that getting an online degree might present a disadvantage when it comes to resources, think again. At McGeorge, our students build marketable expertise under the guidance of our faculty. The faculty here are chosen for outstanding teaching as well as depth of knowledge in government law and policy. As a student at McGeorge, you can enhance your career without missing a beat in your own life. 

What are you waiting for? Contact our admissions office today to get started.

NGO Career Outcomes

NGO Career Outcomes: How an Online MSL Degree Can Jumpstart Your Water and Environmental Law Career

If you are passionate about water law and environmental law, this is a great time to pursue a career; personally, professionally, and globally. Clémence Kucera, Assistant Dean for the Graduate, Online, and International Programs, and guest speaker Kim Defino discussed the pathway from environmental enthusiast to successful advocate. 

Kim is an adjunct professor and alumna of McGeorge School of Law. She is also the founder and president of Earth Advocacy, a consulting company that provides policy and advocacy guidance to nonprofits and foundations with the goal of protecting and restoring our lands, water and wildlife for future generations.

NGO Career Outcomes

Passion and Advocacy

Kim earned her B.S. in political science and public service with an environmental policy emphasis from UC Davis and her law degree from, of course, McGeorge. For 3 years, she worked for a small public interest law firm performing environmental litigation representing nonprofit organizations. But a pivot was on her horizon “I realized that while I loved the issues that I was working on, I really enjoyed developing the policy rather than litigating. So I actually changed my focus.”

Fostering positive systemic change from the inside out, Kim was the State Director for Defenders of Wildlife for almost 20 years before she founded her own firm, Earth Advocacy. She has a broad range of experience under her belt and an even broader skill set: working in strategy, communications, and organization; with clients like Defenders of Wildlife, the National Audubon Society, land trusts, and foundations; at the federal and state levels. 

Potential Positions in the Field

The water and environmental law field — unfortunately, due in part to climate change and all of the impacts that we’re experiencing — is growing. “I think you’re going to see, more and more, a need. And there are a lot of things that people can do with a legal or policy background in the private setting,” she encourages. If you want to work in a nonprofit setting, alternatively, “Having a policy background is essential to make progress on the big issues we’re tackling. There’s a wide range of issues that are out there that people can work on and roles they can play.” 

Within this range, you can find your own niche. “You could spend your entire life just trying to understand water law and policy. What are the rules of the game, and what are the policies that the rules are trying to promote? That’s very important to understand.” As an example, if you want to protect an endangered species, you could really benefit from learning the basics of land use planning. The options are limitless. 

The Keys to Success

There are certain skills needed to be successful in these positions. First, to state the obvious, you need to know the existing laws and regulations. But to state the less obvious, you also have to know the legislative process and the real-time steps it takes to move a project along. Kim imparts as much of this knowledge as possible in her McGeorge online courses. 

“We do a survey of some of the biggest environmental laws out there, and we look at it from the perspective of, ‘Why do we have this? Why was this law written? How has this law been interpreted? How has this law evolved over time? And where are we now with the law?’” They take a critical look at climate change, the Clean Water Act, the integration between federal and state laws, and more, through nuanced analysis and practical assignments.

An Informed Approach to Teaching

The multifaceted perspective Kim hopes to teach her students was honed over time. She admits that, earlier in her experience and education, she only gradually uncovered the nuances. “I think I would have liked to have had a deeper understanding of the various layers,” she acknowledges. “I wish that when I was younger I had a better perspective. But I think the problem is, perspective only happens with age.” 

This year, she created a project in which students wrote comment letters on proposed regulations stating whether or not they supported them and why. Essentially, she had them participate in the rule-making process. Another had students unite as teams and tackle climate change, everything from the implications of using nuclear power to integrating the opinions of stakeholders. Innovation and creativity are always at the core of McGeorge courses, even when they are online. 

Expanding Perspectives

Kim encourages a thriving conversation throughout her class. In discussion threads, students and teacher have a back-and-forth around complex topics, which she thoroughly enjoys. “People have different perspectives and different ways of looking at things. And I often get feedback in those discussion threads, such as ‘I didn’t think about it like that, but that’s a really interesting way of putting it.’”

Ultimately, the dedication to ensuring her students’ optimal education comes back around. “My sense is, at the end of the day, when the students are done with the course they have a deeper understanding of federal environmental law. I’ve had students who now practice in the environmental field say, ‘you know this was really helpful.’”

McGeorge’s online MSL curriculum consists of courses like this one, taught by expert, supportive, and passionate professors. Apply now and take the first step towards a fulfilling career.

Practical Legal Training

Why McGeorge is One of the Best Schools for Practical Legal Training

Books and classes aren’t everything. While it is important to obtain certain degrees if you go into specialized fields, you don’t learn everything you need for your career in the classroom. It is why doctors must complete residency programs in addition to passing their board exams, and it is why lawyers work in clinics and internships before taking the bar. Skills that you develop as an attorney, such as negotiation, cross-examination, and client interaction are skills that you can only obtain through doing. 

What is Practical Legal Training?

You might be wondering exactly what this practical legal training entails. Simply put, it is the chance to apply skills learned in class to unique, real-world lawyering situations. Students get the ability to simulate real client representation. Classes involving advocacy, policymaking, negotiations, and lobbying prepare you for situations you’ll encounter in your career.

Practical legal training is important because it helps new lawyers navigate the legal landscape better. When working with or against attorneys with more experience, the skills honed in law school let you keep up with colleagues and adversaries in the real world.

Practical Legal Training

How McGeorge Stands Out

McGeorge has long been a leader in teaching practical lawyering skills, dating back to 1964. This was when our first clinics opened, giving students real-world experience before graduation. Our online graduate programs extend this tradition and method of instruction, promoting the integration of legal theory with in-demand, marketable skills.

Here is a glimpse at some of the courses we offer: 

  • Persuasive Public Speaking: This online course introduces students to the many aspects of persuasive public speaking, including content, word choice, and delivery. Students develop public speaking confidence by practicing their skills and receiving constructive feedback.
  • Negotiations: This course examines the theoretical, ethical, and practical skills essential to being an effective advocate in negotiations involving legal disputes. Students learn negotiation skills through lecture, discussion, video simulations, and extensive interactive exercises and role-plays. 
  • Legislatures & Lawmaking: The course provides opportunities for the development of practical skills such as drafting statutory language, preparing and assessing bill analyses, commenting on legislation, and participating in the legislative process.
  • Leadership in Organizations: This course explores skills necessary for professional competency and excellence in twenty-first-century organizations. Working in and with public agencies is emphasized. Topics covered may include teams in organizations, cross-cultural dynamics, professional work product and communications, and professional ethics. Focus is given to case studies and practical exercises.
  • Government Law & Policymaking: This course introduces students to the lawyer’s role in developing, modifying, implementing, advocating, and influencing public policy. Students learn policy analysis; the strategic implications associated with the various venues and processes; research using a variety of sources and practice applying course knowledge and skills to important public policy matters of the day.

The focus of each of these courses is its applicability to the workforce and situations students may encounter as parts of their jobs. We empower our students not only with knowledge, but the actionable skills for the various legal environments they will work in. 

Contact Us Today

In addition to preparing our students for their careers on a practical level, our LLM and MSL programs are online and asynchronous, giving our students the gift of flexibility. They can complete the program part-time and on their own time, so that if there are any other professional or personal obligations to attend to, their education doesn’t need to be put on hold. McGeorge is here to continue our tradition of excellence, while simultaneously options for working professionals. We are here to and utilizing and making the most of the technological age we live in. It’s the best of everything we have to offer. 

Interested in our program? Contact our admissions office today.


MSL vs JD: A New Pathway in Legal Education

For many aspiring professionals intrigued by the complexities of law and policy, the conventional path has always pointed towards the Juris Doctorate (JD). However, an alternative path has emerged that offers an equally compelling blend of knowledge, rigor, and practical applicability — the Master of Science in Law (MSL). 

With tailored concentrations in niche areas like Water and Environmental Law, and Government Law and Policy, McGeorge School of Law is paving the way for individuals to immerse themselves in specialized and career-building legal knowledge, even as non-lawyers. So, why consider an MSL degree over a JD? In a Prelaw magazine article about this very topic, Clemence Kucera, Assistant Dean of online programs at McGeorge School of Law, had this to say, “While students walk away with legal knowledge, they don’t have to take the 88 units the law school requires or prepare for the bar.”

Key Benefits for Non-Lawyers

One of the key benefits of the MSL degree is its accessibility to non-lawyers. This program is ideal for professionals who need to understand and navigate the legal landscape in their work, but do not intend to practice law. From engineers to environmentalists, business leaders to policymakers, an MSL allows individuals across various fields to enhance their understanding of law and policy, thereby enriching their career trajectories and decision-making capabilities. MSL graduate, Amanda Richie, explains, “For me getting an MSL was the best of both worlds. It was a shorter version of law school that provided me with the classes I needed.”

Specialized Legal Expertise

The online MSL degree at McGeorge School of Law offers concentrations that provide graduates with a unique advantage over competitors in the job market. For instance, in the Water and Environmental Law track, students delve into the intricacies of environmental regulations, policies, and legal frameworks related to natural resources. Meanwhile, the Government Law and Policy track equips students with comprehensive insights into public policy-making and legal issues tied to governance. This depth of understanding, specific to their field, equips MSL graduates with knowledge beyond what many JD holders may have in these specialized areas.



Career Advancement

The MSL degree can be a catalyst for career progression. While not a law degree in the traditional sense, the MSL can open doors to roles that require a robust understanding of legal systems and processes, such as policy analysts, regulatory affairs managers, and more. For professionals already working in these fields, the MSL can enhance their credentials and position them for higher-level roles or pay grades.

Time and Financial Considerations

Earning a JD typically takes three years of full-time study and often involves a significant financial commitment. On the other hand, the MSL program at McGeorge is part-time and online, allowing you the flexibility to work around a full-time job and family commitments. This reduced timeframe and, often, a lower cost, makes the MSL a more feasible option for many working professionals looking to gain legal knowledge without committing to a full law degree. Students consistently highlight this flexibility as one of the top reasons to choose McGeorge

The Value of an MSL from McGeorge School of Law

The MSL program at McGeorge School of Law provides an alternative pathway to deepening legal proficiency without the time and financial commitment of a JD. The specialized concentrations offer non-lawyers and working professionals the opportunity to enhance their career prospects and industry expertise. While the MSL doesn’t replace the JD for those intending to practice law, it certainly offers a wealth of benefits for individuals aiming to advance in other areas of work. So, if you’ve been contemplating how to sharpen your legal skills and career prospects without becoming a practicing lawyer, the MSL could be the perfect fit for you.

Thomas Cinti

Faculty Spotlight with Thomas Cinti

Thomas Cinti wasn’t always interested in law or teaching it, for that matter. In fact, he started in the sciences, but eventually loved the subject so much that he even decided to teach it to others. Now, he has useful insights and advice for students going through their own law education journey, especially online learners in McGeorge’s LLM or MSL degree programs.

Getting Talked Into Law 

Thomas attended Harvard in pursuit of a Master’s degree in Environmental Science. Meanwhile, his childhood friend, Michael Colatrella, convinced Thomas to join him in looking at law schools. “He essentially talked me into it, and dragged me around to a couple of law schools. We filled out the applications together, and that was my somewhat ignominious introduction to the study of law.” Oh, and if the name sounds familiar to you, you’re absolutely right; that would be the same Michael Colatrella who is currently serving as Co-Director of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learnings and a professor of law right here at McGeorge. 

But before he was fully sold on the idea, Thomas returned to Harvard fully expecting to stay and earn a doctorate degree. But when faced with conflicts and obstacles within his doctoral committee, he took it as a sign to choose law school. It was a reluctant journey, “But I will say this, because of my background in environmental science, what I was really interested in doing was environmental law. And that’s what I spent my entire career doing.” Now, he naturally has no regrets.

Becoming a Professor

While working his day job, Thomas noticed that a small college in Philadelphia called Holy Family University was looking to hire an adjunct professor of environmental science. “That’s perfect for me,” he thought. “I have my master’s in environmental science, I like doing it, and I don’t get as much of an opportunity as a lawyer other than augmenting what I do in the legal profession. So I thought it’d be fun to go ahead and teach.” 

He had done some teaching while at Harvard, and surprised himself with how much he enjoyed it. He got the job, and for the first year, strictly taught environmental science. He avoided teaching law, instead trying to relegate it to his day job, but eventually the university talked him into it. So unfolded (his again rather ignominious) journey to teaching law, including courses on HR law, business law, and particularly, negotiations. Around a decade later, McGeorge reached out. “I really enjoy it. It makes you yourself continue to learn, which is one of the most fascinating things about the role of teaching.”

A Wide Lens and Accessible Approach

Environmental law is a multidisciplinary field with a lot of crossover between water rights and protection as well as dealing with the government, because “It’s hard to do one without the other. And that’s, I think, both inherent and the thing I enjoy about the practice. It really does require you to be multidisciplinary.” Some legal professionals choose a very narrow focus, but Thomas likes the diversity of a water law issue one day and a zoning problem the next. “I think that’s what makes it exciting and keeps it fresh, and it keeps you on your toes, because you have to keep abreast of all these different areas of law.”

Though a little reluctant when he first started online instruction many years ago, Thomas has since become much more open and excited about the potential possibilities, “and a lot of it has to do with the technological advances that occurred because of COVID. It really forced us to get good at this stuff. I think it’s closer to being seamless.” He identifies the asynchronous course structure, which “really makes it accessible to students who, because of their jobs or family, wouldn’t otherwise be able to partake in the course. And I think that’s a huge plus.” There are certain benefits to be gained from in-person learning, he acknowledges, but genuinely believes that the benefits outweigh it.

Online Learning Success

For the benefits to sink in, however, students can aim to meet some key success factors. “You have to be able to work independently and motivate yourself,” he warns. But don’t be alarmed if you have thrived in conventional classrooms and need some extra reinforcement. “I meet with students all the time. We have phone calls and Zoom sessions, but it’s a little different than being in the classroom and being able to grab the professor after class to ask a question. So If you are a self-motivated person, and you’ve got a busy life, I think this is a great format in order to take your classes.”

Another thing to keep in mind is the social element of traditional versus online classes. Thomas recognizes that some hallmark student experiences, like meeting up with each other after class or forming spontaneous study groups, can be lacking. But if the social aspect of school is important to you, you can still reach out to your classmates and form relationships. When you do, you’ll likely find recent graduates from college looking to jumpstart vibrant futures, established professionals moving towards a career change, and government workers expanding into new and more advanced levels. “It’s very diverse,” he concludes. 

Overall, Thomas is satisfied and proud of both the work he does and the students he teaches. His final piece of advice could double as pure encouragement; “If there’s anyone who ever had any hesitation about taking courses in the online format, I would recommend you give it a try. I think it’s an entirely new environment that you can teach in now. And I think students seem to enjoy it.”

Part-Time Master Degree

A Part-Time Master’s Degree for Working Professionals

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” That investment, however, can be tough. 

After high school, completing any degree can strain both your time and resources. While many students aim to obtain their advanced degrees as full-time students, this isn’t always the case. Those earning advanced degrees may have already started their career. They might be looking to advance professionally or even start anew, but being a full-time student would prove difficult. Leaving your job could not only hurt you financially, but could hurt any forward momentum you built at work.

Master’s degrees can also help you grow in your career, giving you educational expertise that makes you a more competitive employee. So what is the solution for the working professional who still wants to further their education? Becoming a part-time student.

University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law’s part-time MSL programs were designed to be completed alongside your current career goals. You get the best of both worlds.

Part-Time Master Degree

The Importance of a Master’s Degree

Many careers don’t require a master’s degree, but having one gives you an upper hand in the workforce. According to the United States Census Bureau in 2022, the highest level of education of the population age 25 and older in the United States ranged from:

  • 9% had less than a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • 28% had completed high school.
  • 15% had completed some college, but not a degree.
  • 10% had an associate degree.
  • 23% had a bachelor’s degree.
  • 14% had completed advanced education such as a master’s degree, professional degree, or doctorate.

Being a part of that 14% makes you a more desirable job candidate in any competitive pool.

Where an MSL Can Take You

A Master of Science in Law (MSL) degree is unique; it is a master’s degree that gives students a legal perspective critical to their career fields. Students with an MSL do not graduate as attorneys, but work in areas dealing with law such as lobbying, policy, and politics. An MSL degree teaches you skills in legal reasoning and analysis, and makes it easier to deal with everyday law-related issues.Knowledge of the legal system is a powerful tool. 

Flexibility for Working Professionals

Pausing employment for a degree is often impossible. Many people incur debt through their bachelor’s degree, and being a full-time master’s student would only increase that number. Student loan debt in the United States totals $1.757 trillion. Working while getting your master’s can help you pay your tuition costs and prevent spending years without a salary. 

Being in school while working can also help your career networking furthers your professional goals. A University of the Pacific degree comes with a large and respected alumni community of graduate and JD students, offering significant opportunities to students who seek to expand their professional networks. You can also apply the skills you learned in class to your professional life. If you were not dealing with contracts before, for example, our course in Contracts/Analytical Skills can get you up to speed. As you learn, you can apply those skills in real-time and increase your value to your employer. 

Why Choose University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

A part-time program’s flexibility for working professionals only increases when it goes online? McGeorge School of Law has flexible online MSL degrees in Government Law and Policy, and Water and Environmental Law that are fully online. As a bonus, classes are asynchronous, allowing students to pick a schedule that works for them. Whether you work business hours or perhaps have a schedule involving nights
and weekends, your educational journey won’t suffer.  

Our students graduate with the ability to:

  • Review and understand agreements such as contracts 
  • Review and draft proposed local, state, and federal laws and regulations 
  • Understand and comply with regulatory requirements for specific industries
  • Work with attorneys and compliance officers 

We help you design an innovative and interactive curriculum that meets your goals. The need for legal skills in non-lawyer jobs continues to grow. You’ll graduate from our program with a competitive edge that helps you gain jobs and an enhanced resume. 

Ready to advance your professional and personal goals? Contact our admissions office today at to find out and get started.

Public Policy Careers

Top Public Policy Careers after Earning an MSL

A public policy career is a career where you can create space for impact. Whether it is working within public interest law or for the federal government, influencing policy in political science, or lobbying for change, public policy careers have the capability to enact lasting change.

The career paths for someone interested in public policy have a wide range and therefore can serve a variety of interests. One common denominator, regardless of which path you choose, is that you want to be more marketable for job opportunities.

An MSL can help you achieve that goal Earning your Master of Science in Law (MSL) will not only increase your depth of knowledge but enhance career advancement. If you’re looking to work in public policy and further your education, look no further than McGeorge School of Law. Our MSL in Law, Government, and Public Policy is designed for local, state, and federal agency employees, and for lobbyists, legislative staff, and others who seek to enhance their skills in lawmaking, regulation, election law, and lobbying but who do not require a traditional law degree for success.

Public Policy Careers

Why Earn An MSL?

At any given time, millions of Americans are looking for jobs, but in the United States, only about 14.3% of adults in the U.S. have advanced degrees. Having an MSL gives you an extra advantage when it comes to securing the job you want. Not only would an MSL give you a higher degree of knowledge, but having a concentration in Government Law & Policy could give you a leg up on your competition for these public policy careers.

McGeorge gives our students practical training in the areas of law and policy theory, how to understand the nuances of legal protocol, and learn how lawyers think. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to network with faculty and experts as well as with other students and alumni. By the end, you’ll increase your credibility with a publishable piece of research that, coupled with a research-focused MSL, can be a gateway to Ph.D. work if you so desire.

Through our MSL coursework, you’ll be better equipped to:

  • Review and understand agreements such as contracts;
  • Review and draft proposed local, state, and federal laws and regulations;
  • Understand and comply with regulatory requirements for specific industries; and
  • Work with attorneys and compliance officers.

These skills can make the job search easier.

Career Options After Earning Your Degree

Are you wondering where you could go after earning your public policy degree? Our public policy program graduates have advanced to: 

  • Analyst
  • Regulatory compliance officer and due diligence
  • Human resources representative
  • Contracts and grants officer
  • Management consultant
  • Government officials and public agency staff
  • Courtroom clerk
  • Healthcare practitioner
  • Legislative aide
  • Lobbyist and government affairs
  • Political scientists
  • Program manager
  • Water resources or environmental engineer
  • Journalist or policy reporter
  • Land use planner
  • Environmental or public agency consultant
  • Policy advocate

There is no shortage of options when it comes to your career after obtaining a master’s in government law and policy.

Why McGeorge?

In addition to the highlights and benefits mentioned above, our program has one more important component that distinguishes us: flexibility. Our MSL program is completely online. Students have a part-time schedule and our classes are asynchronous so you can study on a schedule that works for you. Life obligations don’t need to be cast aside as you further your education. And if you have a career already that you are looking to enhance, you don’t need to pause while you obtain your degree. An online MSL is ideal when it comes to pursuing your professional and personal goals.

So, what are you waiting for? Contact McGeorge’s Office of Admissions today to get started.

Lobbying and Advocacy

Lobbying and Advocacy in the Political Arena with Chris Micheli

Lobbying and Advocacy - McGeorge School of Law

The term “Lobbying” may bring up all sorts of reactions, from positive to negative. Underneath any preconceptions, however, lobbying is a deeply important part of the democratic process that allows for a diverse range of voices and perspectives to be heard by elected officials. 


McGeorge School of Law presented a webinar analyzing a career in lobbying and advocacy. Clémence Kucera, Assistant Dean for the Graduate, Online, and International Programs, guided the event and was joined by guest speaker Chris Micheli. 


Chris 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. Chris is uniquely qualified thanks to his real-world experience as a lobbyist for over 25 years. He became the founding partner of Aprea & Micheli, Inc., a governmental relations and advocacy firm in Sacramento, California.

A Constitutional Right

The United States Constitution guarantees the right to petition the government, or what we now know as lobbying. This right allows individuals and organizations to express their views on issues and policies that affect them directly or indirectly. Lobbyists work at all three levels of government: for example, California includes 58 counties, 482 cities, and several thousand special districts, all of which involve lobbyists. 

Chris breaks down the role of a lobbyist in simple terms. “We spend a lot of time explaining how proposed legislation or regulations might impact a client either positively or negatively, and then the rest of the time again we spend advocating, arguing, or advocating for or against a particular proposal, bill, or regulation.” They bring expertise and knowledge on specific policy issues that can help lawmakers make more informed decisions. “I like to sometimes say that we’re all lobbyists, debating where you’re going to go to dinner or what you want for your birthday party. We all do it to some extent,” he points out. 

Ethical Foundations

There are legal and ethical requirements that lobbyists must adhere to in order to ensure transparency and fairness in the lobbying process. For example, California lobbyists must register, and disclose projects and spending. “That’s all a matter of public record. You can go to the Secretary of State website today and look up a lobbyist or their employer, so there’s a great deal of transparency.”

Lobbyists must also be truthful in their communications and avoid engaging in any activities that could be considered bribery or influence peddling. For example, lobbyists in California cannot provide a gift in excess of ten dollars. These requirements help to ensure that lobbying is conducted in a manner that benefits both the government and the public as a whole. 

Advocacy and Making Your Voice Heard

Advocacy is a key part of lobbying. Advocacy involves arguing for or against a particular proposal, bill, or regulation; educating lawmakers about how proposed legislation or regulations might impact their clients; and presenting alternative solutions or compromises to lawmakers.

Lobbying is key in the political arena for many reasons. “It’s important for people who are regulated by the government to have a voice in that regulation,” Chris reminds us. Also, since lobbyists utilize taxpayers’ dollars, it’s part of the democratic process for the recipients of those funds to then educate and advocate with the legislature. “As I said from the outset, the right to petition our government is a fundamental First Amendment right under our Federal Constitution.” Let’s make the most of it, and do so wisely. 

Becoming a Lobbyist

Though the process of becoming a lobbyist varies from state to state, in California, anyone can register and get started and form their own services company — but being successful at it is another story. “Having the expertise and the knowledge makes a big difference.” 

The majority of lobbyists have some background in the field. McGeorge’s program fills the gap, especially when incorporating a concentration like Government Law and Policy. (something Chris is well aware of as an adjunct faculty member.) “A number of my colleagues and staff in the lobbying sector have been pursuing their MSL,” Chris reports. “We’re trying to provide practical skills for the MSL graduate so that you really come out of the program, especially if you pursue one of these concentrations, with some practical knowledge and the ability to begin operating in those particular areas of subject matter expertise.” 

A Key to Your Future. A Key to Democracy. 

If you’re inspired by now, you can pursue a future in lobbying at McGeorge, and do it all online. The Master of Science in Law (MSL) program grants a law degree to individuals who do not intend to practice law — but who do, in fact, benefit enormously from gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to understand the law and its implications on public policy. This innovative MSL program is also designed for working professionals and offers five concentrations. It is taught in an asynchronous manner, meaning students can complete coursework on their own schedule.

Apply today!

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