Online MSL Student

Hear from Current Online MSL Student, Savanna Sanders

In our most recent webinar, we had the pleasure of talking with a current online MSL student,  Savanna Sanders. She kindly joined us for a fun and informal conversation that nonetheless provided some great insights into the day-to-day life as a McGeorge online MSL student of Water and Environmental Law. Savanna now serves as a water resource planner with experience in state-wide water planning, water resource management, CEQA and NEPA compliance, regulatory compliance, and environmental fieldwork at Zanjero Inc., where she’s busy advising, managing, and solving the resource management issues faced by clients. 

Savanna chose to study at McGeorge School of Law because she knew that she wanted to specifically focus on water law and water resources. Though interested in law, she didn’t need to commit to a full JD degree to advance in her career. After identifying her goals, she discovered that this part-time online MSL program catered to working professionals and helped them manage work, life, and school. It was a perfect fit. Also, as a Sacramento resident, it was extremely important that she attended a localized school so she could build a professional network within the community. 

Online MSL Student Applies Knowledge in Real Time

Savanna only recently landed her role at a small water resources consulting firm here in Sacramento, Ca. Her new employers and mentors, meanwhile, have over 30 years of experience as lawyers, engineers, and planners, making the workplace a fantastic melting pot of legal, financial, technical, and engineering projects. The variety is exciting and comes with a steep learning curve, so she wanted to understand it deeper; McGeorge’s all-encompassing MSL in Water and Environmental Law was the ideal complement. 

Savanna says her schooling directly aligns with her day-to-day work, “so it’s almost funny because what I end up reading or listening to in my lectures is typically what my projects end up needing. I’m really learning and applying my knowledge in real-time.”

Due to the intensity of her job, she was advised to take 1 class per semester, which turned out to be a wise decision – at her previous job, which was less demanding, she was taking 2 per semester. “I’m really grateful that the MSL program has that flexibility to change with you as time goes on,” she says. McGeorge certainly takes flexibility seriously, from professors planning due dates that take students’ professional responsibilities into consideration, to the asynchronous course structure.

Becoming Part of the Change

Savanna is primarily interested in becoming a water resource specialist because she wants to deeply understand how water systems, management, and law work, especially in her home state of California. Living in this trend center for other Western states, she has witnessed first-hand how much work needs to be done (for example, the grueling droughts that have plagued the landscape). She hopes that, as she continues to improve her knowledge of this area, she can be part of the change.

“I feel this importance to be in my home state, and to do what I can to learn how we can help save such a vital resource. Water is life, and we should all develop a deeper respect and appreciation for it. The more that I get to know myself and to ask myself questions about what I want to do in my life and what I value, it becomes more and more clear to me that I need to focus on water and advocate for the environment,” she said.

She’s already looking for ways to impact the planet’s future in a positive way, something we’re so proud to hear about from our students. “Every day I learn something new. I like to think of it as another piece of the puzzle, and I’m putting it all together, and the MSL program was the starting piece. Every day at work I see how problems are solved, so I develop deeper perspectives. I look forward to building my career and ultimately focusing my life’s work in this area,” she said.

She currently works under a watermaster who is in charge of a basin down in Southern California. She is also currently in a Water Law class with a research project assignment. When she put these puzzle pieces together and chose that particular basin for her project, well, she basically got to be paid to do her homework! “It has allowed me to just gain so much more knowledge on what my work is going to be in my career. It’s been a really fun couple of months for me when my job relates to my schooling.” The rest of her coursework includes discussion posts designed to engage students in the Socratic Method, readings, quizzes, and the occasional paper. “I really enjoy this learning style.”

Manageable and So Fulfilling

Now, she feels that she can offer some of those deeper perspectives to other current or prospective students. “First, I would like to say that it’s okay and normal to feel nervous. This is a big life step, but it’s totally manageable and it’s so fulfilling,” she said. She advises accomplishing something related to school 6 days per week but taking one day off to decompress. “Especially if you’re working full time and taking two classes per semester, it will be necessary to build a strong weekly schedule and to break up tasks into small daily goals,” Sanders said.

Another tip? Reach out to your classmates. Savanna posted on the discussion board to say that she’d be studying at the library weekly, and invited any other local students to join her. “It can be hard to build connections when you’re in an online program, but it’s much more enjoyable when you can meet other students. And so I personally made some really, truly amazing friends in this program,” she said. Go to school functions, get on the email list, attend talks, communicate via discussion board posts, and use office hours to connect with professors. Basically, find your opportunities when and wherever you can!

“Honestly, I would say it has made my career. I knew it was going to elevate me to the next level, and I got my dream job as a current student. So don’t be afraid to try something that seems out of reach. Your education is something that can never be taken from you, and if you are passionate and want to go further in your understanding of law, environment, water, and government, you have nothing to lose by completing this program. It’s a stepping stone for career growth and employers want you because you have this degree.” She makes a good point. When you stop to think about it, “technically, you’re teaching yourself on the side, so your employers don’t have to. It’s a benefit for them that you’re providing yourself with an education.” We’re just happy to have an enthusiastic, hardworking, and passionate student like Savanna grace the McGeorge legacy.

Rebecca Olson

Faculty Spotlight with Rebecca Olson

Rebecca Olson

Before college, Professor Rebecca Olson, ‘05, knew she wanted to become a lawyer. Even in high school, she was fascinated by the mysterious machinations going on behind legislation. From a bill becoming law to election protocol, she wanted to know the full story — and now she does.

Meet Professor Olson

Professor Rebecca J. Olson is a founding partner of Miller & Olson, LLP, where she specializes in political, campaign, election, and nonprofit law. She provides legal advice to corporations and trade associations, and serves as general counsel and treasurer to many campaign committees for local, state, and federal candidates, ballot measures, and corporate and trade association Political Action Committees (PACs). 

She also handles matters relating to compliance with campaign, lobby, and election laws, and represents clients on enforcement matters before the Fair Political Practices Commission. Additionally, she specializes in the formation and operation of nonprofit organizations, including compliance with Internal Revenue Code, California Franchise Tax Board and California Attorney General requirements. She is a member of the California Political Attorneys Association. As an accomplished McGeorge School of Law alumna and now professor, she has plenty of insights and advice to share. 

Becoming a Lawyer

Professor Olson earned a Political Science degree from Tulane University and decided to become a paralegal – but only as a brief stop on the road to becoming a lawyer. As she learned and grew in her role, paralegal job opportunities started sounding more and more fun, so she stuck with it. At the same time, she was volunteering for a Congressional campaign, where she discovered that she could apply her paralegal skills to the political world. She happened to be working at the law firm that was representing the campaign, giving her the inside scoop. After a few years of learning campaign finance as well as preparing and filing government reports, she applied to law school at McGeorge with a refreshed focus.

Professor Olson was drawn to McGeorge’s proximity to the state capital because she wanted to stay connected to the legislative action. Years later she was again drawn in, this time to teach, when Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Experiential Learning, Mary-Beth Moylan, called and asked if she’d consider an adjunct position. Spoiler alert: she said yes. She’s found, as both student and professor, that one of McGeorge’s strengths is how much interaction is required of the students even in an online program. 

A people person, the lack of face-to-face connection challenged her teaching style and has been a learning curve. She can see, however, “the emphasis that McGeorge puts on ensuring that interaction is occurring and that discussions are happening even though you’re not all sitting in the same room.” 

Participate and Communicate

Professor Olson advises McGeorge’s online students to “participate as much as you can once you’re there and communicate.” Just because you’re not sitting in the room or having a spontaneous conversation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t secure the support you need. “If you know something’s going on, you need assistance or an extension, have a concern about the program, or just want advice, reach out!” she said. As much as possible, Professor Olson proactively reaches out to her students, so they know that she’s a real person and here to help. The well-designed combination of flexibility and foundation means that a great education is available to a broader range of law students. 

While McGeorge offers a comprehensive and rigorous program, it’s not aimed to break you down, she says. It’s more about extending your established knowledge while teaching you to speak the language of lawyers and become their most valuable asset. “I think it can be a hugely important thing for a career. It just allows more choices and potential for growth,” Olson said. She laughingly has to plug her favorite class of all, the Election Law course, and explains how it provides a 360-degree view of a complex subject, and positions students to fill legal roles in a complex political field. 

“I finally had people understand what election law even meant!” Olson said. How are elections run? How are votes counted? How do you keep up with the updated Supreme Court rulings on voter rights? There’s been a significant change of focus, and an MSL helps you meet the newly increased demand for scrutiny. The public needs qualified people with a strong backbone to run these elections, and Professor Olson assures us that the need “has grown significantly and continues to grow.”

Find Your Passion

Her final words for prospective students aren’t just law school advice, but life advice: Until you get interested in something specific, it’s really hard to know what jobs are out there to aim for. If you find an interest in something, delve into it, and find out how people make a living doing it. “You may be surprised,” she says. “We walk through life thinking there’s a set number of types of occupations, and there aren’t. There are a significant number of different types. Don’t pigeonhole yourself, be open, and figure out what gets you excited every day. I’m an election law nerd and I love it, but that’s not for everybody. Find your passion! There’s no one path that makes you a successful person.” 

Election Law

Election Law and How an MSL in Government Law & Policy Can Help Advance Your Career

Professor Rebecca Olson is a full-time attorney, one of the founding partners of Miller and Olson, LLP, who specializes in political, campaign, election, and nonprofit law. Professor Olson provides legal advice to corporations and trade associations; serves as general counsel and treasurer to many campaign committees for local, state, and federal candidates; handles matters relating to compliance with campaign, lobby, and election laws; and much more. Oh, and she earned her J.D. right here at McGeorge. 

Professor Olson previously worked in campaign finance compliance, so she empathizes with those who don’t want a JD but do want a degree that can assist with upward mobility, a better pay grade, increased input and value in the workplace, and other benefits. Though lawyers traditionally tend to believe that students need to go through a J.D. program to really understand the law, professor Olson reassures us that “it couldn’t be farther from the truth. I can tell you the difference between someone who didn’t have the background and someone who had the MSL through the Government Law and Policy program? It would be night and day.”

What is Election Law?

“For many years, Election Law has been a niche practice that people didn’t understand. Now we’ve come much more to the forefront,” Olson says. Much of it comes from constitutional law, talking about political speech, voting rights, and how the First Amendment was born.McGeorge’s Election Law course provides an overview of the subject’s origin and how it trickles down into daily politics. We address redistricting and representation, gerrymandering, election administration, ballot propositions, campaigns, and more.

Professor Olson appreciates the way students get a little taste of the different areas within election law. She reveals that Election Law is not a difficult area of the law to learn, but it is very specific, meaning that professionals without that base of knowledge can feel overwhelmed. Well if you’ve got the base, you may be able to help in a field where election law or a companion subject comes into play. “It helps to have a broad perspective on where everything fits in – and that, I think, can help advance careers in a number of ways.”

Endless Career Possibilities 

There are many jobs assisting lawyers and clients where you don’t need a J.D. to be heavily involved and heavily necessary,” Professor Olson explains. An MSL in Government Law and Policy degree is widely useful; you could work, for example, with the Fair Political Practices Commission, which has a whole department dedicated to compliance education for those lobbying or running for political office. 

The MSL can also help with drafting statutes and regulations in these areas of election law, as well as understanding what can and cannot be regulated as per the Constitution. If legislative offices have staff with the proper background, they can immediately safeguard against unconstitutional actions and prevent costly mistakes. 

Then there are governmental affairs departments serving a myriad of businesses that need to have an active presence at the Capitol. State or local agency jobs have ethics sectors requiring lots of administration; in nonprofits, voter registration or rights are sometimes the whole mission of the foundation; and of course, if you want to work in campaigns, having election law knowledge helps the campaign run smoothly and successfully. 

Election Law

Always In Demand

Election law can prove an extremely interesting subject because it’s constantly evolving with the current legislation. Professor Olson admits she keeps busy, which is a good sign when “it also means that people who have that base of knowledge and understanding are in demand … As we see attacks on administrative officials, people who know the rules will just continue to grow in importance. And it’s important that we have well-trained people who want to do this kind of work.”

Taking the Election Law course or being in the Government Law and Policy MSL program keeps your finger on the pulse. Knowing where the law comes from, what the basis is, how it can change, and how it has changed recently, can make you extremely helpful in any career – and advance your career where you already are as well.

The McGeorge MSL Distinction and Details

McGeorge decided to move the MSL program entirely online prior to COVID, so it’s always been meticulously crafted, highly interactive, and designed with intention. Your degree can be completed in 2 or 3 years, and students often choose to attend part-time; the asynchronous structure allows you to work at a time that’s convenient for you personally. Half of your coursework is a requirement, the other half is left for electives, and the final project is on a current topic of your choice. Need some help? Zoom in for optional office hours. Need to bounce ideas around? A weekly discussion group means there are plenty of opportunities to create a dynamic collegiate conversation. 

If you’re interested in learning a little more about the online programs, contact our admissions office today to get started on a personalized trajectory resulting in career growth, lifelong knowledge, and practical skills from McGeorge School of Law. According to professor Olson herself, “You know that it’s high quality and you know that you’re getting a good education.”

Water Law in California

Water Law in California: How Earning an Advanced Degree Can Help Your Career

Water Law in California

As California continues to grow, water rights continue to play an important, though often controversial, role in shaping its future. According to the Water Education Foundation, California’s growth has closely paralleled an evolving and complex system of water rights. So where do we go from here?

For some context, California has two kinds of water rights. First, there are the older riparian rights – water rights laws based on ownership of land bordering a waterway. Clashing with these are appropriative rights, a practice that allows for water use based on physical control and beneficial use of the water without regard to the relationship of land to water. 

Further complicating matters is the California Constitution, requiring that all water use be both “reasonable and beneficial” according to the State Supreme Court, though reasonableness is determined by the circumstances and “varies as the current situation changes.” Meanwhile, the federal government can get involved when water quality issues arise, which may affect allocation. Clearly, there are a lot of factors at play. 

The State of California’s Water

Speaking of water quality, this past October marked the 50th anniversary of Congress passing the Clean Water Act. The White House released a proclamation stating that before this landmark legislation, America’s waters were in crisis, often flooded and even on fire with toxic pollution and cancer-causing contaminants. But while it’s true that five decades later, our nation’s waters are dramatically cleaner, there’s a lot left to be done.

As noted by the LA Times, in California and much of the West, less ample and therefore slower moving water paired with increasingly hotter temperatures promotes the growth of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria. These can release toxins that in turn make sloughs and ponds poisonous to people who fish in or drink from them. Earlier this year, for example, the state found that nearly 1 million Californians drink tainted water

In 50 years, the amount of climate, political, and social change has wreaked havoc on the landscape. It’s quite clear that they’re correct to invoke an update from our nation’s leaders. In the meantime, it’s critical for qualified legal professionals to step up and step in where it counts. When such looming issues face the state, careers and jobs related to California water law are very likely to be on the rise.

McGeorge’s Programs Tackle Water Law in California

If you’re interested in entering this critical field at a particularly opportune moment, the best way to do so is by bolstering your education. McGeorge’s world-class Water & Environmental Law program is the foundation for its successful online MSL and LLM programs in Water & Environmental Law. This master’s degree provides the opportunity to learn from McGeorge’s distinguished faculty and program team in addition to panels of experts who focused on water and environmental law and the changing policies surrounding both.

The courses are taught by expert faculty who are chosen for outstanding teaching as well as depth of knowledge in water and environmental law. They emphasize the development of real-world knowledge and practical skills. The perfect example is the dedicated McGeorge School of Law Professor Jennifer Harder, who recently spent 1.5 years collaborating with a group of esteemed water experts on the development of recommendations for reforming California water. Professor Harder also serves as co-director of McGeorge’s Water & Environmental Law Concentration and as the Faculty Director for Online Learning, so she and other groundbreaking leaders are actively involved in advancing the field– and your education.

With courses like Water Resources Law, students gain practical understanding of water allocation and use in contemporary society, and critically examine the social policies that govern water management. Later on, the more advanced Water and Environmental Justice course explores challenges and opportunities in providing a healthy environment and safe, affordable, accessible, and reliable water supplies to all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, economic status, national origin, and education level. These are just two of the classes in a standout curriculum designed to give graduates an education both expansive and in-depth.

An MSL or LLM Degree Can Elevate Your Career in Water

The MSL degree is a part-time, fully online, 26-unit degree program with asynchronous lectures. Students interact with their professors and classmates weekly through discussion boards throughout the program, have opportunities to work on projects with classmates, and meet with professors virtually in flexible office hours. Typically, the coursework is spread over two years, but feel free to contact the Assistant Dean for Graduate and Online Programs to personalize your degree to your optimal benefit.

Our online MSL and LLM programs for Water and Environmental Law prepare professionals like you to tackle this issue head-on within industry leadership roles. These 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 earning a law degree. Our online degrees are the practical solution to a career search that’s looking to affect real environmental change in a positive way.

How to Pay for a Masters

How to Pay for a Masters Degree

How to Pay for a Masters

A Discussion about Tuition, Financial Aid, and Earning an Online Graduate Degree

In a recent webinar titled, “How to Pay for a Masters Degree,” McGeorge School of Law’s faculty explained everything you need to know about the funding we offer, special financial assistance options, scholarships, and more. Clémence Kucera, Assistant Dean for the Graduate, Online, and International Programs, was joined by Katjana Wurschum, Assistant Director of Graduate & Online Programs, and Joe Pinkas, Director of Financial Aid. While the subject can easily appear overwhelming, we’re here to break it down piece by piece. 

Designed for Flexibility in Both Content and Cost

At McGeorge School of Law, we calculate the costs of both the MSL and LLM programs with a per-unit rate, meaning that you only pay for the particular units you are enrolled in each term. No matter how you decide to divide and conquer the course load for your degree, it can be part-time and paid for in manageable increments. If you’d prefer to take longer to complete your degree and eliminate the need for loans, that’s absolutely fine as well. 

You shouldn’t feel boxed in when brainstorming how to pay for grad school. Our curriculum is purposefully designed to offer you flexibility with the number of units you take on each term. There is no penalty for allotting three years to your studies as opposed to just two: just keep in mind that there is an extra $90.00 per semester wellness fee if you decide to extend your scholastic timeline. 

That being said, most students choose to take six units per term. Including fees, books, and supplies, it’s wise to budget $9,000-$10,000 when determining how to pay for your Master’s degree at McGeorge (unfortunately, law school textbooks tend to be quite expensive.) 

Scholarships and Funding Options

Once you submit your application, you’re automatically considered for scholarships. No separate application is required. Recipients are notified of an award in the letter of acceptance. If you receive a scholarship, it applies to your first two terms. We will distribute the amount evenly across the two. If you have any other questions, we’re more than happy to work with you to find more opportunities and solutions.

McGeorge offers some encouraging funding options. First, we have Employer’s Tuition Assistance. Find out if your employer has a program in place; you may be surprised by how many options exist for employees through their HR services. We’re always ready to provide any requested documentation or arrangements to support you and your employer as you negotiate tuition assistance. 

Also, if you are a Federal Health Employee of Sutter Health, you automatically get a 10% discount on any of the University of the Pacific Graduate Programs. If you work for a company or nonprofit that you think might be interested, we welcome the opportunity to partner with more businesses. 

Financial Aid Answers

Wondering about how financial aid works? Assistance with moderate living expenses, with room for personal expenses, is available if necessary. And don’t wait until you’re accepted to submit your FAFSA application! The financial aid process always begins with the recompletion of the FAFSA application, which, by the way, goes live for the 2023-2024 school year on October 1. 

Once accepted, you’ll receive an award letter detailing what you qualify for and the next steps.

Joe Pinkas encourages students to think all the way through the program when making financial aid decisions, as opposed to simply term-by-term. Remember, always feel free to contact us at the Financial Aid Office; we aim to always provide a high level of service. Also, if you’re a veteran, know that McGeorge is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program, meaning that we’ll cover up to 100% of your tuition. 

If you would prefer not to take financial aid, you can reach out to our student business services to arrange a repayment plan that works for you. 

Do you still have particular questions about paying for your Master’s degree? Joe Pinkas can answer them. Get in touch with him at He’d love to work with you.

Earth Day with Kim Delfino

McGeorge Celebrates Earth Day with Kim Delfino

Earth Day with Kim DelfinoEarth Day is an annual event that focuses on environmental issues. April 22, 2022 marked the observance of the 52nd Earth Day. This day challenges people and governments to establish protocols to improve the earth by reducing human impact. The Earth Day theme for 2022 was “Invest in Our Planet.”

Kim Delfino, an adjunct professor at McGeorge School of Law and the President and Founder of Earth Advocacy, spoke with Clémence Kucera, the Assistant Dean for Graduate, Online, and International Programs, for an Earth Day webinar. Their conversation highlighted ways that McGeorge’s online MSL degrees in Water and Environmental Law and Government Law and Policy can contribute to making tomorrow a better place.

About Professor Kim Delfino

Professor Delfino is a 1993 graduate of McGeorge School of Law. She began her practice as an attorney in Washington, D.C. at Meyer & Glitzenstein. For almost four years, she represented environmental organizations focusing on the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and the Clean Water Act. She then moved away from litigation and worked with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) as their conservation advocate.

After several years, Professor Delfino returned to California and worked as the program director for the California office of Defenders of Wildlife. She later started her own advocacy firm, Earth Advocacy, where she is a consultant for nonprofit environmental organizations and foundations. She represents organizations in the state legislature and helps foundations with strategy and policy over the long term.

Environmental Careers That Do Not Require a JD

Although Professor Delfino started her law practice in litigation, she emphasized that the work she is currently doing does not require a Juris Doctor degree (JD). However, this does not mean that knowledge of the law is unimportant or unhelpful – quite the opposite is true. There are several career paths in environmental work that do not require a JD, but absolutely benefit from having a legal background. For example, Professor Delfino’s legal knowledge helps her write laws (statutes) that she then seeks to have enacted by working with the legislature. Her legal knowledge also helps her understand how laws and policies come together in practice. 

Some careers that benefit from legal expertise, but do not require a JD, include:  

  •         Lobbyist
  •         Environmental Policy Advocate
  •         Environmental Consultant
  •         Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Analyst
  •         Public Information Officer
  •         Land Use Planner
  •         Public Agency and Legislative Staff
  •         Policy Advisor
  •         Environmental Policy Specialist

And more. 

The state legislature also offers several opportunities on committees, agencies, and boards where a foundation in law is beneficial for those working with the branch of government enacting law. Conservation organizations and environmental nonprofits have positions where a legal background would also be an asset, as do state and local agencies. This is especially true in California, where environmental protection is greatly valued, and many policies are tested at the state level before moving to the national level.

How a Legal Background Helps with Environmental Work

In the state legislature, having a legal background helps in understanding how laws are made. It provides an awareness of the specific meaning of specialized terms, and how they should be used, whether in litigation, at the legislature, or working with agencies or the public. This knowledge helps to guide language when drafting a bill, so that the bill is clear and precise.

There are many statutes and laws that govern complex environmental issues pertaining to water, air, and land. It is important to comprehend how the statutes that affect each issue work together. Earning a master’s degree in Water and Environmental Law will strengthen your knowledge base while showing others in the field that you have valuable insights and can design policy initiatives that succeed.

A legal background also helps with interpreting the numerous rules and regulations established by local agencies, and state and federal administrations. You need to know what actions are required by the regulations, and why the requirements exist. Knowing how regulations affect the water or environmental sector where you work is essential. Understanding how the legal framework intersects with business and public agencies is also critical in environmental work.

By now, it should be clear that a legal background is incredibly helpful in this field. However, if not a JD, then what? How does someone interested in a well-rounded approach to environmental careers get this knowledge? Let’s look at two options.

McGeorge’s MSL in Water & Environmental Law Program

The Master of Science in Law, Water and Environmental Law program covers the legal principles of critical environmental and water issues. The program is taught by experts in the fields of water and environmental law, who are focused on developing and changing policies in both areas.

A unique feature of the program is that McGeorge is one of very few law schools that emphasizes water resources law and offers a legal degree for non-lawyers. Some of the topics covered include surface and groundwater rights, drought management, tribal rights, rights for federal lands, reasonable use, waste, the public trust doctrine, and water storage projects.

The Environmental Law courses focus on air pollution, solid waste management, fish and wildlife resources, environmental impact analysis, and related topics, with particular attention to common law doctrines and public rights.

Professor Delfino teaches Environmental Law in McGeorge’s MSL in Water & Environmental Law program. Her policy expertise is in state and federal endangered species, land use planning, water, and other natural resource laws.

The course focuses on federal law by providing an overview of the most prominent environmental laws, such as:

  •     CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act)
  •     National Environmental Policy Act
  •     Administrative Procedure Act
  •     Clean Water Act
  •     Clean Air Act
  •     Endangered Species Act
  •     Environmental citizen suits
  •     Climate change 

The course focuses on how these laws work and the court cases that interpret different provisions within the laws. Students are given the opportunity to understand how the laws are applied in a real-world setting. Delfino’s Environmental Law course has a group project that poses important questions to the students. They are asked to devise strategies to accomplish an environmental goal and how different sectors might respond to those strategies. The project pulls students into actual environmental legal situations and makes them look at all the parties affected.

Understanding these laws and how they are enforced prepares students to influence new laws, policies, and regulations governing water and environmental issues.

To learn more about Professor Delfino’s course, listen to the webinar.

The Online Master of Science in Law Program at McGeorge

McGeorge’s online MSL program allows students to build marketable expertise in government law, water resources law, or environmental law. The courses are guided by expert faculty chosen for their outstanding teaching and depth of knowledge in their fields.

The courses in the MSL program emphasize real-world knowledge and the development of practical skills. The programs are convenient and specifically designed for working professionals or students who need flexibility due to career, family, or other obligations and want to further their education and advance their careers.

For more information, contact us at or 916.739.7019.

Legislative Staff & Lobbyists

Why Legislative Staff and Lobbyists are earning their Online MSL Degree at McGeorge School of Law

Legislative Staff & Lobbyists

In 2021, the total lobbying spending in the United States amounted to $3.73 billion. The total number of unique, registered lobbyists who actively lobbied in the United States was 12,137. 

For some careers, having a higher education degree can give you a competitive advantage. This holds true for legislative staff and lobbyists. Many of them earn their bachelor’s degree and then go on to earn a master’s degree. By earning a master’s, you gain a depth of knowledge on a particular subject matter that’s immediately applicable to your career goals. 

Earning your master’s degree is no small feat. It’s a deliberate investment that takes time and resources. Many people work while earning advanced degrees. This adds another layer of complexity, as you juggle your professional life with your academic one – not to mention your personal one.

You must consider some crucial factors when determining your master program:

  • School Specialties and Strengths
  • Social and Professional Network
  • Program Details

With these factors in mind, McGeorge School of Law could be a good choice for you. 

Our Specialties

At McGeorge School of Law, you can earn your Master of Science in Law (MSL) in Water and Environmental Law. Our world-class water and environmental law program gives students the opportunity to learn from our distinguished faculty and program team as well as from panels of experts.

We also have an online Master of Science in Law in Government Law & Policy. It is designed for those who seek to enhance their skills in lawmaking, regulation, election law, and lobbying.

In our programs, you develop real-world knowledge and practical skills. The concentrations provide you with the ability to hone marketable, essential qualities that are critical in today’s complex regulatory environment. 

At the conclusion of our program, 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
  • Understand the nuances of legal protocol and how lawyers think
  • Work with attorneys and compliance officers

The degree can open up career opportunities for you or enhance your current role. With an MSL, you not only gain in-depth knowledge of the field, but you distinguish yourself professionally with a specialized, focused degree.

Our Network

McGeorge School of Law is located in the heart of California’s state capital, Sacramento. For anyone hoping to pursue politics, this is an ideal location. Sacramento is where the policy action for the state takes place. 

We have esteemed alumni who became influential legislative staff and lobbyists in Sacramento. Our students are able to utilize this proximity to their benefit when starting their careers after graduation. 

Our Program

At McGeorge, you have the option to earn your MSL degree entirely online. This gives you the benefit of flexibility. Whether you have family and other personal obligations to attend to or a full-time career, our online program lets you do it all. Our asynchronous courses allow you to cater your study schedule to your personal and professional commitments. You can even participate in our program part-time, if it better suits your needs. Having options enhances the ability to seamlessly weave your academia into your life.

Our staff works with you to design a strong, skill-based, real-world, and renowned curriculum that meets your individual goals. Contact our admissions office today to get started on a personalized trajectory resulting in career growth, lifelong knowledge, and practical skills from McGeorge School of Law.

Post-LLM Career Opportunities

Opening the Door to Post-LLM Career Opportunities

Post-LLM Career Opportunities

Earning a degree from McGeorge opens the door to endless Post-LLM career opportunities. A Master of Laws, or LLM degree, enables specialization in a particular area of law. At McGeorge School of Law, we offer a water and environmental law LLM programImagine that you seek an LLM degree at McGeorge. What are the benefits? Specialization provides opportunities whether you seek to develop your expertise in an existing position, to contribute meaningfully to complex law and policy development, or to become a more desirable candidate for employment. The LLM is structured to help you achieve your career goals.  

About McGeorge School of Law’s LLM Degree

Our Water and Environmental Law Program provides an opportunity for seasoned attorneys, recent law school graduates, or foreign-educated legal professionals to develop depth of knowledge in specific areas of law, including environmental, water resources, regulatory compliance, or public agency law. 

The LLM program has course options such as, for example, administrative law, legislatures and lawmaking, international water resources law, water and environmental justice, environmental law, election law, lobbying, and water resources law. There are also opportunities for focused research and analysis one-on-one with a faculty member, potentially developing a publishable work product. The LLM provides the opportunity to develop substantive knowledge by diving deep into a particular issue area. You can also hone skills in research, analysis, and problem-solving in that particular issue area. Knowledge and skills are tailored to be beneficial to your future desired law and policy work. As an added benefit, the program is flexible and online. The program’s design makes it easier for students from diverse circumstances to complete this part of their education. 

Advancing Your Career

An LLM degree can prove beneficial for new attorneys, and for seasoned practitioners with established careers. LLM programs are also a particularly good option for individuals who find themselves wanting to switch gears and practice a different area of law. 

During an LLM program, your expertise will grow, either within an area of law familiar to you or in a new area of law you find exciting. At McGeorge, your depth of knowledge will expand in specialized areas such as, for example, endangered species law, water permitting, public agency finance, climate change, water justice, and renewable energy. Your increased knowledge and specialization will distinguish you from others and help advance your career. 

Opportunities in the California State Capital

At McGeorge, not only will you gain the required knowledge to specialize in an area of law, but you will also gain access to a network that is critical for growing your career. Our online LLM students will have McGeorge’s faculty, alumni, and professional networks at your disposal. You can pursue networking opportunities with faculty and experts in the area of water and environmental law. Additionally, you will collaborate with other students who practice and work in this field of study. 

McGeorge is located in Sacramento, California, the state’s capital, and the heart of politics and policy for the world’s fifth largest economy. Sacramento is also the home to numerous state and local agencies. If you already work in the region or are considering a move, the location and McGeorge’s rich networks are ideal for networking and future job opportunities. The California State Capitol is no doubt the heart of where policy change occurs in California. If you are seeking to make that kind of impact, Sacramento is a great place to start. Other than working as an attorney, you could become a policy or legislative consultant or analyst, a lobbyist, policy writer, or work closely with state and local agencies, or legislators. In a field where laws aid environmental  causes, this allows you to hold space for impact. 

Get Started Today

Whether you are starting your career anew or want to dig deeper into what you already do, an LLM degree is the right move. It opens up opportunities after you graduate as someone with an advanced degree. 

McGeorge School of Law provides not only an excellent education with top-notch faculty, but our location puts students at the center of practical experience. Even though classes are online, you are still able to utilize McGeorge’s location to your advantage. 

So, in the end, what could happen after you graduate with your LLM degree? That’s easy. You’ll enter the next exciting chapter in your professional life. Contact our admissions office today to get started.

Legal Degree for Non-Lawyers

A Legal Degree for Non-Lawyers

Legal Degree for Non-Lawyers

McGeorge’s online MSL programs offer a legal degree for non-lawyers. Neither the MSL in Water and Environmental Law nor the MSL in Government Law and Policy requires a Juris Doctor (JD) or a legal background. They are designed for working professionals and recent graduates who aim to gain a legal education to further their careers.

What is an MSL Degree?

McGeorge launched its MSL programs, a Master of Science in Law, in 2012. Neither a paralegal nor a JD degree, this versatile option is meant for professionals who seek the benefits of advanced training in legal reasoning and analysis. With so many businesses and industries being impacted by constantly changing laws and regulations, having knowledge and training in legal analysis can be advantageous when dealing with every day law-related issues. Taught by full-time tenured faculty and adjunct faculty, you get to learn from experts who conduct research and practice in the field. 

Why Pursue an MSL Degree?

An MSL degree is designed for those who work in a field that is highly regulated, who have a position where you are required to have regulatory knowledge, who want to expand and grow their existing knowledge in a specific area of law, or who recently graduated with the B.A. but want a higher level of education to jumpstart their career. You can always work with McGeorge’s Career Development Office to develop a personalized plan and determine your next steps. We work individually with all of our students to find the best curriculum for their career goals, and you have access to an advisor who you can connect with online. 

Moreover, as an MSL student, you’ll gain expertise in a particular area of the law and enjoy increased career options. In some fields, you can’t get a promotion without first getting an additional degree. 

An MSL degree is likewise the perfect choice if you want to change your field or start a new career but aren’t entirely sure where to start. This degree can help you make the transition, not only because you’ll gain knowledge and skills, but also because you’ll have McGeorge’s network at your disposal to help you find a job in your new career. Finally, you can increase your job security with an MSL by becoming more valuable to your employer. 

Watch Our Webinar 

Master of Science in Law, Water and Environmental Law


This MSL serves professionals and recent graduates who need practical knowledge of law and policy in the dynamic field of water and environmental law. This MSL is beneficial for anyone working in this field that is highly regulated since the concentration provides the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills that are critical in today’s complex regulatory environment. This course of study facilitates interdisciplinary excellence within government, non-profit, and private enterprise. Our program is often ranked as one of the best in the country, and we’re proud to have many distinguished professors widely-recognized as experts. You can take classes part-time or full-time with our flexible pre-recorded modules. The program includes eight (8) required courses and two (2) electives. 


Master of Science in Law, Government Law and Policy


This MSL introduces students to the role that government agency leaders play in developing, modifying, implementing, advocating, and influencing public policy including through legislation, regulations, executive orders, court orders, and more. The program’s coursework gives students the opportunity to analyze policies and learn essential organizational procedures. Students will also be able to consider the strategic implications associated with various venues. You’ll receive access to legal research tools equal to those found in JD programs to conduct research on federal and state policymaking. There are eight (8) required courses and two (2) electives. 


What Makes McGeorge Online Graduate Degrees Distinctive?


All of our online MSL degrees have asynchronous lectures, yet they’re highly interactive thanks to compelling online discussions. Our upgraded quizzes and chats are structured for maximized learning, and we provide practical real-world assignments. You get regular feedback from professors plus a collegiate online community. Optional live, in-person office hours and lectures may also be available. 


Next Steps


Watch our June 2022 Webinar, with Assistant Dean Clemence Kucera to hear how you can further your legal career by earning a Master of Science in Law (MSL) in either Government Law & Policy or Water and Environmental Law.

Apply to our program by clicking on the link below. No GRE or LSAT, entrance exam, J.D., or any other law degree is required to enroll in this program.


We’re happy to set up one-on-one sessions to discuss your career goals, answer your questions, and walk you through the application process. Remember, the sooner you apply, the more likely you are to receive scholarships!

Legal Education

Build Your Legal Education with McGeorge’s Experience in California Law

How To Become a Lobbyist

When deciding on what school to attend, there are many factors to consider, including the program, the location, its network, and its flexibility. You should also think about how the school can benefit your legal education and your future career. 

McGeorge School of Law can enhance your career with specialized online degree programs, including a Master of Science in Law (MSL) in Government, Law, and Policy. Our online degrees are accessible to everyone, from recent graduates to working professionals. There are many reasons why McGeorge can build your legal career — here are the top 3.

1. McGeorge School of Law is Home To Expert Faculty in Legal Education

Attending McGeorge gives students the unique experience of learning about lobbying and politics. Our online graduate programs are taught and led by a distinguished faculty and program team, many of whom are experts in their field. They are able to bring their expertise back to their students through the curriculum and coursework. This is particularly true in the field of government law and policy where some faculty currently work in the field and share their experience through a practical lens. At McGeorge’s MSL program, students learn from faculty whose insights appear in top law reviews, journals, and books, as well as in blogs, op-eds, magazines, and white papers. 

2. McGeorge’s Strong Reputation Benefits Online Students

Even with a fully remote program, the location of McGeorge is beneficial for our students. The school is located in Sacramento, the capital of California. When it comes to lobbying and politics, much of the activity occurs in the state’s capital. Apart from just location, McGeorge’s program has a reputation that helps our students and alumni. 

Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli, ‘91, is an “Elite Lobbyist” working at the center of California politics. He spoke about McGeorge’s reputation and how it helps our students: 

“McGeorge enjoys a stellar reputation with those working in and around the State Capitol in Sacramento. Students in the MSL program will benefit from this reputation,” he said. “And, your classmates will later become your colleagues in the profession. Plus, McGeorge has a large alumni network, particularly in the government law and policy arena, and students will benefit greatly from that network.”

McGeorge’s network is there for students and alumni to benefit from. McGeorge alumni span across the country and around the world. The community not only has access to career resources, but an alumni directory where you can connect with others in your practice area and/or location. We have Sacramento and regional chapter networking events, continuing legal education activities, and other programming. Students have access to the services of the McGeorge Career Development Office (CDO) for the rest of your legal career.

3. Invaluable Legal Education Skills for Career Advancement

Getting your MSL in Government, Law, and Policy lets you specialize in a specific field. Whether you are working in the field already or have yet to start your career, an MSL will teach you skills that will aid you in your job. The program gives valuable legal training, including in the areas of research, analysis, and oral and written advocacy. These skills are invaluable to lobbyists and those working with legislation and regulations.

Micheli also shared his insights on this aspect of McGeorge’s MSL program:

“The benefit of McGeorge’s MSL program is that students can focus on government law and policy. So, students who want to lobby or pursue a legislative career can receive specialized training in those fields. For example, the Lobbying & Politics course is the only online academic course with practical training aspects that is designed exclusively for the MSL program and its students,” Micheli said.

McGeorge is known for the strength of our skill-based, real-world curriculum. An advanced degree gives you an advantage in the workforce as you gain skills and practical expertise. 

Apply to The Online MSL Program at McGeorge Today

Whether or not you have completed your Juris Doctor (JD), a Master of Science in Law holds many benefits. For those students already working in the legal field, the MSL program offers skills training, practical courses, quality instructors, and exposure to the field and its professionals. Students can take several courses that provide valuable legal training without going through a JD program. 

For those who have already completed their JD program, the MSL gives you added proficiency in the field. Employers are always looking for candidates who have higher education degrees, additional training, and practical skills. This is especially true in the Capitol community of Sacramento. An MSL degree from McGeorge School of Law opens doors for you professionally and throughout your career. Contact our admissions team to begin the application process today.