Government Law & Policy

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.”

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.

Why Lobbyists Should Earn an MSL in Government Law & Policy

Chris Micheli is an adjunct professor in McGeorge School of Law’s JD and online MSL programs. He teaches the Legislatures and Lawmaking and Lobbying and Politics courses. Micheli, a lobbyist for over 25 years, is the founding partner of Aprea & Micheli, Inc., a governmental relations and advocacy firm in Sacramento, California.

Micheli recently spoke with Clémence Kucera, the Assistant Dean for Graduate Law Programs at McGeorge, for a webinar. He highlighted how the online MSL in Governmental Law & Policy degree helps to advance a lobbying or legislative career.

Types of Lobbyists

Lobbyists Should Earn an MSLLobbyists, as defined by Micheli, represent clients and their issues and perspectives on legislation. They advocate and educate legislators, appointed officials, and staff on rulemaking activities and their client’s views.

There are four types of lobbyists – three that work in the private sector and government lobbyists. Micheli is a contract lobbyist, which means he is contracted to represent companies or organizations in the state. He meets with public officials or politicians to relay his client’s position on legislation that could have an effect on their industry.

Trade Association Lobbyists work in both nonprofit and for-profit associations in various areas such as business, labor, and the environment. Lobbyists actually have their own trade association, the Institute of Governmental Advocates (IGA). In-House Lobbyists are typically employed by a business or corporation. And for both trade association and in-house lobbyists, their employers are their only clients.

There are around 200 agencies, departments, boards, and commissions under the executive branch in California alone. Each of those executive branch entities has a lobbyist. Their titles vary depending on where they work within the government. A Deputy Secretary for Legislation works at the agency level, while a Deputy Director for Legislative Affairs works at the department level.

The Importance of the MSL in Government Law and Policy Degree for Lobbyists

Micheli says there are two reasons why having a legal background is important for lobbyists.

Understanding the Law

The first reason is being able to understand the law. Lobbyists need to know how laws and regulations are written, developed, implemented, interpreted, and enforced. The same applies to knowledge of regulations.

Legal Skills

The second reason is the skills that a legal program like McGeorge’s MSL degree can develop. On a day-to-day basis, lobbyists will use research and analytical skills to develop factsheets or interpret laws and their possible deficiencies. They will need oral and written advocacy skills to write advocacy letters or testify before a legislative or regulatory agency.

Ultimately, there are thousands of private or government sector lobbying positions where McGeorge’s MSL in Government Law and Policy degree would be beneficial. The degree provides real-world knowledge of the law for legal careers at the local, state, and federal agency levels. It is designed to enhance skills in lawmaking, regulation, election law, and lobbying for people who do not want to practice law.

Watch the webinar to learn more about lobbyists and Professor Micheli’s courses.

How McGeorge’s MSL Degree Differs From Other Programs

Micheli noted how McGeorge’s program differs from other MSL degree programs. “The Lobbying and Politics course will give students a very clear idea of what you do as a lobbyist,” said Micheli. There is exposure to how to be a lobbyist, the rules that regulate them, and some of the specialized forms of lobbying. It’s more in-depth than conceptual discussions about being a lobbyist or the different influences on elected officials.

The MSL program provides practical teaching and skills and covers the aspects of what you’ll be doing every day as a lobbyist. And the courses are taught by professionals who practice in the field, so it’s not just a theoretical approach. For example, you’ll learn how to write an effective advocacy letter. You’ll also learn how to prepare and give testimony in a legislative committee or before a rulemaking agency. The skills that you’ll learn go beyond an academic viewpoint.

Professor Micheli wrote, “A Practitioner’s Guide to Lobbying and Advocacy in California”, a renowned textbook in Lobbying and Politics.

The MSL in Government Law and Policy Degree at McGeorge

McGeorge’s Government Law and Policy MSL degree is designed to be convenient for working professionals. The online program has asynchronous lectures, weekly interactive discussions, and a collegial online learning community. The courses prepare students to advance their careers with practical, real-world assignments and regular feedback from professors who are active in their field.

Students build marketable expertise with the guidance of expert faculty chosen for outstanding teaching and their depth of knowledge in government law, water resources, or environmental law. Courses emphasize real-world knowledge and the development of practical skills. The programs are convenient and are specifically designed for working professionals or students who need flexibility due to career, family, or other obligations, and who want to further their education and advance their career.

For more information, contact us at graduatelaw@pacific.edu or 916.739.7019.

McGeorge Student Interviews

McGeorge’s Online MSL is Helping Legal Professionals From Diverse Backgrounds

McGeorge Student InterviewsThe McGeorge Master of Science in Law online programs prepare professionals in various fields and positions to work in law or in roles that intersect with legal issues. The MSL provides students with the legal knowledge and skills required to enhance their current jobs without the need to practice law.

McGeorge offers two online Master of Science in Law degrees – Water and Environment Law and Government Law and Policy. These programs are meant for recent graduates and working professionals and are on a part-time schedule with asynchronous courses. The MSL programs are designed to be interactive so that you can engage on a weekly basis with faculty and your classmates. The flexible curriculum allows you to study on the schedule that works best for you.

Students who enroll in these degree programs are from diverse backgrounds and work in varied professions. McGeorge recently spoke with several students who started the MSL program a few weeks prior. The interview sessions provided considerable insight into why they chose the program and how they plan to leverage the degree in their careers.

 

Bret Gladfelty

Bret GladfeltyBret Gladfelty is enrolled in the MSL in Government Law and Policy. After receiving his BA in Finances from Santa Clara University, Bret worked for a nonprofit where he became interested in an advocacy role. He is currently working as a contract lobbyist with the Apex Group. His job regularly interacts with the California code and many facets of the law. He feels that the MSL degree would help him better understand the law. Bret’s primary motivation for applying to the MSL is to be a better advocate and lobbyist.

Another key reason Bret chose McGeorge was the convenience of the online courses. He often travels for work not only as a lobbyist, but also as the commercial pilot for the firm, and an in-person program would have been challenging to manage with his schedule. “Having that flexibility is key in order for me to take the course. Otherwise, I would definitely miss some classes.” He was also influenced by colleagues who had completed the MSL program and advised him that it was beneficial for their careers as lobbyists. Bret’s father also attended McGeorge and received a JD in the 1980s.

Looking into his future, Bret sees the MSL as beneficial in reassuring prospective clients of his legal knowledge and abilities while interacting with the California Legislature. “I believe just having that extra degree displays that you have the dedication to learn more about the law.”

 

Heidi Mekkelson

Legal Professionals - Heidi MekkelsonHeidi Mekkelson is an environmental consultant and managing director at ICF in San Francisco. She has 19 years of experience in California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance. Heidi is enrolled in the MSL in Water and Environmental Law program.

Heidi manages the preparation of environmental impact analyses pursuant to CEQA, which requires any public agency with discretionary authority to approve a project to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the project prior to approval. CEQA documents are often the subject of litigation, so lawyers thoroughly review the documents she prepares. She needs to be able to think like a lawyer and anticipate what they will want to see in her documents. “The MSL program teaches us how to interpret case law and statute, and how to apply legal analysis to our work, which are skills that are critical to my job.”

When she found McGeorge, she had been looking for a program that would expand her understanding of the law. Heidi chose the MSL at McGeorge for several reasons. “I loved the additional focus on water law. The subject of water resources has always been a favorite topic of mine. That extra layer was appealing.”

As a working professional with a full-time job and children, Heidi appreciates the program’s online format. “The asynchronous program is really the only option for me.” Although she is happy in her current position, Heidi is open to the possibilities the MSL degree will give her. “Whether it’s taking me to “next level” consultant status, improving the quality of the documents I prepare, or helping me pivot to a new career path, I know this program will do something great for my career.”

 

Jamaal Valentine

Legal Professionals - Jamaal ValentineJamaal Valentine holds a BA in Business Management and a Master of Business Administration, both degrees from the University of Phoenix. He served in the Air Force and is currently the Chief of the Contracting Office for the Department of Defense. In this role, Jamaal is responsible for buying goods and services that the government needs to operate using taxpayer dollars.

He feels that his MBA doesn’t help him in the Chief of the Contracting position because government contracting is unique. It doesn’t follow standard business practices. The MBA could not help him understand government operations. Although he receives regular training in his position, it hasn’t been particularly challenging.

Jamaal regularly works with judge advocate generals, which are basically government attorneys. There is a constant intersection with the law in his job. He feels that the Contract Law and Introduction to Legal Analysis courses are more structured than his on-the-job training. He joined the program because he is a life-long learner and to be a positive influence on his children.

“Now that I’m working with the California National Guard in a federal capacity, my hope is to be a better contracting officer and a better steward of the taxpayer dollars. Formal legal training will make it a reality.”

 

Nancy Beecher

Nancy BeecherNancy Beecher joined McGeorge’s MSL in Water and Environmental Law program. She has a Ph.D. from Indiana University in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She is a Senior Environmental Biologist at Southern Nevada Water Authority, where she helps ensure water for over two million residents and forty million annual visitors. Her main focus is providing scientific and writing expertise for water rights processes and environmental compliance efforts to support large water development projects. A major part of this work is blending biological, hydrologic, geospatial, and legal information to inform smart land and water resource management. She’s worked in the water profession for 15 years and wanted to grow professionally.

Water development projects have to meet many environmental legal requirements, so Nancy’s work regularly intersects with the law. But as a scientist, she felt limited by her lack of understanding of the law. She enrolled in the MSL program because she wanted to expand her knowledge from a legal perspective. She wants to understand the legal landscape, the current law, and cases popping up around the country regarding water and the environment.

“As a scientist, I want to be able to integrate that into my science and analysis.” Nancy appreciates McGeorge’s focus on water law as well as environmental law. “A water law class available to a nonlawyer is great because it’s so hard to find.”  

Nancy spent hours online searching for the right program to teach her about the law pertaining to the environment and water. She also needed it to be flexible enough to keep up with her demanding job. And with a family in tow, she did not have the option of moving to get that education. “McGeorge was unique because they really focus the program on professionals. People who are applying the law on a regular basis, but who also have jobs and families.”

She was happy to find that the program has both introductory and advanced law courses. As someone with no formal legal education, she is grateful for the introductory courses. She is also very excited to delve into the advanced classes that pertain to her field. “You get the complete package of the education you want.” 

The caliber of her cohort has been a pleasant surprise. She enjoys the different fields of interest and professions that her classmates have. The online aspect makes it easier for them all to fit school into their professional lives. And she’s excited by how passionate they are about why they’re in the program.

Nancy’s biggest reservation was wondering how much she would get from an online program. She was pleased to find there would be a few live sessions to give her a chance to connect with her professors and classmates. And the professors are very accommodating to the students. They have “Zoom office hours” and make themselves very available at the student’s preference. She also enjoys the convenience of the recorded classes.

Nancy saw benefits from the MSL program early on as she was able to apply what she learned in her very first class to her job the next day. Finally, Nancy added, “It’s worth the money and time – if you apply yourself. If your intention is to get the most out of the program, it’s worth it.”

 

Celine Takatsuno

Celine Takatsuno is the founder of Gracepoint Inc., where she provides global advisory and strategy consulting services to emerging technology companies and social impact startups.

Professionally, Celine is a generalist. She knew she didn’t want to be a litigator, but she was fascinated by the practice of law. Her work often crosses into legal areas in industries from advertising and media to caregiving and healthcare. She collaborates with lawyers in many aspects, including contracts and policy interpretation. Her current focus is on the dynamics of personal data privacy.-. “Technology and business are moving faster than legislation and policy,” she says, “I’d like to help bridge that.” 

Celine chose the MSL program at McGeorge for several reasons. She was searching for grad school programs in law or policy. And McGeorge stood out from other programs. She liked the school’s location in Sacramento and near the Capitol. She was also impressed with the program being based in a law school compared to other programs that were not. Celine said, “It has a lot of focus on critical analysis, legal reasoning, and there’s a lot of rigor coming from a law school. Those are probably the top reasons I chose it.”

Because she spends a great deal of time traveling, Celine wanted a hybrid or an online program. She likes the convenience of the recorded classes. “It’s so easy to take school on the road. That is super helpful.” In addition, she prefers to learn in a more self-directed environment.

An unexpected advantage to the program is the diversity of the students. Celine expected everyone to be early in their careers, with similar academic backgrounds. But instead, she found a diverse group. “I love the fact that we have these really, really accomplished professionals. The caliber of students is very motivating.”  

Deborah Keen

Legal Professionals - Deborah Keen Deborah Keen has been a high school government and legal studies teacher for many years. She has a BA from the University of North Texas in political science and always considered law school. Apart from her teaching position, Deborah is also a contract curriculum writer for agencies such as the Texas State Bar and the Center for American and International Law. In 2020, she was awarded Teacher of The Year by The American Lawyers Alliance for her efforts to promote quality civics education. She is currently enrolled in the MSL for Government Law and Policy program.

Deborah has a family and a career, but she wants to continue her education. She looked for programs that allowed her to study the law without having to become a lawyer. She does not wish to represent clients. Instead, her plans for the MSL degree are to advocate for public education and work alongside nonprofits. She likes the flexibility of the online program because it allows her to continue her work in education.

McGeorge’s online program is an excellent fit to help Deborah increase her knowledge. She felt other programs lacked the public policy focus she was looking for, whereas each class in McGeorge’s course list looked interesting and relevant to her career. “The courses, cost, the length of the program; I was impressed with what they offered, and I liked the government law and policy focus.”

 

Varied Backgrounds and Professions Have a Few Things in Common

Although the students are in varied professions and are at different levels of their careers, they have one common trait. They are incredibly pleased with the convenience of the online MSL program as it provides a way to continue their education while maintaining their current jobs.

Each student enrolled in either MSL program has different plans for their future. However, they are confident that McGeorge was the right choice. And they are excited about their courses and the positive impact the degree will have on their future careers.

Students build marketable expertise with the guidance of expert faculty chosen for outstanding teaching as well as the depth of knowledge in government law, water resources, or environmental law. Courses emphasize real-world knowledge and the development of practical skills. The programs are convenient and are specifically designed for recent graduates and working professionals who need flexibility due to career, family, or other obligations, and who want to further their education and advance their career.

Start building your career today with McGeorge School of Law Online. For more information, contact us at graduatelaw@pacific.edu or 916.739.7019.

How to Become a Lobbyist

How to Become a Lobbyist in California

How to Become a Lobbyist

If government and law is your passion, there are many areas you can work. Lobbying is one of them. If you have ever wondered how to become a lobbyist, you have come to the right place. 

What is a lobbyist?

Lobbyists are professional advocates that work to influence political decisions on behalf of individuals and organizations. This advocacy could lead to the proposal of new legislation or the amendment of existing laws and regulations.

There are four types of lobbyist jobs out there:

  1. Contract
  2. In-house / GR
  3. Association
  4. Government

For each, there are different kinds of employers. The job description and position may also vary. Let’s go into more detail for each category.

Contract lobbyists get contracted by lobbyist employers to work on their behalf. They get employed by a lobbying firm. They get contracted out by unions, companies, and more. In order to become a contract lobbyist, you must register with the Secretary of State. Plus, you’ll need to take a lobbyist ethics course. 

In-house lobbyists are full-time employees of a business. They do local, state, and/or federal lobbying on behalf of their employer. As with contract lobbyists, they must register with the Secretary of State and take the ethics course.

Association lobbyists are full-time employees of a trade association. A trade association is an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry. Other names for trade associations include:

  • Industry trade groups 
  • Business associations 
  • Sector associations, and 
  • Industry bodies 

Association lobbyists must also register with the State and take the ethics course.

Government lobbyists are full-time employees of a state agency, department, board, or commission. They engage in lobbying on behalf of a government administration. These lobbyists appear before the Legislature to advocate on behalf of the administration. These are the only lobbyists that do not have to register with the State. This is because they are state employees. 

How do you become a lobbyist?

In order to become a lobbyist, there are a few steps you should follow. First, earning a degree that will help you in the field is essential. After your bachelor’s degree, earning a Master of Science in Law (MSL) is the perfect next step. Getting your degree in law or government can help your career.

Further, working in a related field and networking is crucial. You can learn about local issues and form relationships. Networking can help you find a job lobbying. Finally, you will likely need to register with the Secretary of State. Lobbyists who incur $2,500 in lobbying activity in a quarterly filing period must file. You also must take the lobbyist ethics course.  

How can an MSL help?

McGeorge School of Law has a Government Law and Policy MSL that can help further your career as a lobbyist. As a student, you can enhance your skills in: 

  • Lawmaking
  • Regulation
  • Election law, and 
  • Lobbying. 

Plus, you won’t have to get a traditional law degree. 

The faculty at McGeorge get hired for their outstanding teaching. In addition, they are experts with in-depth knowledge of government law. Courses emphasize real-world knowledge and the development of practical skills. 

McGeorge’s prime location is another advantage. The school’s proximity to the California State Capitol allows students unique connections. Their program is online as well. They are convenient and specifically designed for:

  • Working professionals
  • Students who need flexibility due to career, family, or other obligations, 
  • Those who want to further their education and advance their career.

The program allows for flexibility and opportunity. 

Conclusion

If you’re wondering how to become a lobbyist, look no further. McGeorge’s MSL program in Government and Law is a strategic step. Take advantage of the location, the resources, and the opportunity. Contact the admissions office today to get started.

MSL Student

Learn from a Current MSL Student

MSL Student - Lazaro CardenasLazaro Cardenas (MSL ‘22) is the Chief for the newly created Health in All Policies/Racial and Health Equity Section in the Office of Health Equity at the California Department of Public Health. He chose McGeorge’s Master of Science in Law (MSL) program to get legal training that will advance his career in equity and public health without a JD degree.  

Lazaro spoke with us in a webinar about his decision. Before enrolling in the McGeorge program, Lazaro worked as a fellow and legislative aide for the California State Assembly and then as an environmental justice and tribal affairs specialist for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. Lazaro recently served as a racial equity specialist in the California Department of Public Health where he was recently promoted to build and run a new section to advance health and racial equity in California State government. 

It had been six years since he earned his undergraduate degree, and he took stock of his experience and skillset. Lazaro said he considered pursuing a Master of Public Policy or Master of Public Administration degree, “but those options didn’t make sense for me.” 

Instead, Lazaro concluded the best strategy was to pursue a Master of Science and Law with a focus on government and health law. “With my work at state agencies, and especially my work on equity, having a legal framework and legal skills was what was missing,” he said. “I needed those skills to grow in my career.”

Flexibility, Reputation, and Professional Network

As an MSL student, you can choose to attend the McGeorge MSL program in person, online, or a combination of the two. Because Lazaro planned to continue working full time while pursuing his graduate degree, selecting a flexible program was a high priority. Lazaro attends a mix of online and on-campus courses, which provides the flexible school schedule he needs. Additionally, Lazaro told us, the program offers him the flexibility of taking coursework in health law plus other sectors of the law. 

Lazaro compared the experience of taking both in-person and online courses, saying the combination works well for him. “The asynchronous online courses gave me the flexibility I needed to continue my career path,” he said. “The course design and course portal make it clear what is required each week, making it easy to stay on track and be accountable.”

Working in the Sacramento area, Lazaro knew of McGeorge’s solid reputation and the school’s extensive network of professionals in the Sacramento area and beyond. The opportunity to tap into this network was a compelling reason that factored into his decision to pursue the MSL program. 

“For all these reasons,” he told us, “McGeorge made the most sense for me.” 

Lazaro said he is halfway through the program and already feels more equipped to engage with issues of compliance and change within organizations, especially within a legal framework. His health law coursework has direct and practical application to the real-world issues he sees in his work. “I feel very confident,” he said, “about how this program will drive my career forward.”

To hear more of our conversation with Lazaro and more details about the MSL program, listen to the webinar.

McGeorge’s Online MSL & LLM Programs 

McGeorge offers both in-person and online programs. The two fully online part-time Master of Science in Law programs are:

  • The MSL in Government Law & 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.
  • The MSL in Water & Environmental Law provides value to land-use planners, engineers, environmental consultants, and others who seek expertise in this continually-evolving field but who do not require a JD degree.
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Additionally, a fully online part-time LLM in Water & Environmental Law program is for attorneys, recent law school graduates, or foreign-educated legal professionals to develop depth of knowledge in a specialized area of environmental, water resources, regulatory compliance, and public agency law.

Students build marketable expertise with the guidance of expert faculty chosen for outstanding teaching as well as the depth of knowledge in government law, water resources, or environmental law. Courses emphasize real-world knowledge and the development of practical skills. The programs are convenient and are specifically designed for working professionals or students who need flexibility due to career, family, or other obligations, and who want to further their education and advance their career.

Start building your career today with McGeorge School of Law Online. For more information, contact us at graduatelaw@pacific.edu or 916.739.7019.