Government Law & Policy

Legal Analysis

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

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

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

Legal Analysis

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

What is Legal Analysis?

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

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

Courses at McGeorge

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

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

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

Benefits of McGeorge

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

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

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

Practical Legal Training

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

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

What is Practical Legal Training?

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

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

Practical Legal Training

How McGeorge Stands Out

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

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

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

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

Contact Us Today

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

Interested in our program? Contact our admissions office today.

Part-Time Master Degree

A Part-Time Master’s Degree for Working Professionals

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

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

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

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

Part-Time Master Degree

The Importance of a Master’s Degree

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

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

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

Where an MSL Can Take You

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

Flexibility for Working Professionals

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

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

Why Choose University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

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

Our students graduate with the ability to:

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

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

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

Public Policy Careers

Top Public Policy Careers after Earning an MSL

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

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

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

Public Policy Careers

Why Earn An MSL?

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

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

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

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

These skills can make the job search easier.

Career Options After Earning Your Degree

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

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

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

Why McGeorge?

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

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

Lobbying and Advocacy

Lobbying and Advocacy in the Political Arena with Chris Micheli

Lobbying and Advocacy - McGeorge School of Law

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


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


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

A Constitutional Right

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

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

Ethical Foundations

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

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

Advocacy and Making Your Voice Heard

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

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

Becoming a Lobbyist

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

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

A Key to Your Future. A Key to Democracy. 

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

Apply today!

Career Outcomes after Earning an MSL

Top Career Outcomes after Earning an MSL Degree in Government Law & Policy

McGeorge School of Law hosted a webinar titled, “Top Career Outcomes after Earning an MSL Degree in Government Law & Policy,” in which they explained not just what to expect during your time as a student, but after graduation from McGeorge School of Law’s online MSL degree program. Clémence Kucera, Assistant Dean for the Graduate, Online, and International Programs, welcomed guest speaker Sarah Kerber to participate in the discussion,

Sarah is an alumna who graduated in 2018. She chose the Government Law and Policy concentration and now serves as the Senior Manager of Strategic Projects and Performance at Sacramento Regional Transit. She talked about her current role, her experience as a McGeorge online student, and how the degree helped launch her career.

The Foundation of a Successful Career

Sarah works in strategic projects that are closely related to a lot of the policy and large-scale initiatives of the agency. She manages the strategic plan, helps write policy documents, and moves procedures forward. In her management position, she works closely with the Executive Office and the agency’s Governmental Relations Office.

As for projects, she is currently busy developing a Training and Workforce Development Department. On top of that, she leads much of the diversity, equity and inclusion initiative. Basically, she admits to doing a little of everything. “It’s been very exciting, and I really think that the training that I got from McGeorge comes through in every aspect of the work that I do. I really enjoyed going through the MSL program, and found that the courses I was able to take are still very relevant and meaningful to the work that I’m doing even now.

Forward Momentum

Prior to enrollment, Sarah was working at the Governmental Relations Office as an assistant at the California School Employees Association. Five years passed, and try as she might, she was struggling with career advancement. She then had a rather serendipitous run-in with a professor who suggested that she look into the MSL program at McGeorge. Needless to say, she applied and was accepted.

Sarah worked full-time while studying, which was naturally an intense period of growth. But it paid off. “I took my courses, and immediately upon getting out just I was able to start interviewing places. I was getting my foot in the door for those higher level positions.” She targeted her education towards a particular role. She acknowledges that McGeorge, “prepared me really well to get into the Department of Finance, then to move beyond it to the next level.”

Remarkable Growth

Perhaps most encouragingly of all, Sarah’s experience is not singular. One of her best friends in the program focused on labor and employment law to great success: she works for the UC Davis Medical Center and, Sarah reports, just got promoted – again. “Everything that we learned at McGeorge, she was able to instantly start applying to her career. She’s been able to grow in really remarkable ways.” Sarah has another friend who is a policy consultant for the state senate, and uses her degree to work on legislation that she feels interested and invested in.

Sarah says it’s been a gift that just keeps on giving. “And those are just my MSL friends, right? One of the great things about McGeorge is that you get a very close-knit community of graduates in both the JD program and the MSL program, and they’re everywhere.” Networking consequently comes easily. “It’s a wonderful community if you plan on working in or around Sacramento in government, public policy, and state agencies. I cannot recommend the program highly enough.” It’s not just Sacramento where you’ll find fellow alumni in action, too. McGeorge’s vibrant community extends to all 50 states. 

Connections for Life

The program’s design, focusing on practical skills, certainly helped contribute to a student’s post-grad career success. At one point, Sarah was volunteering at a local nonprofit and actively involved in real-time cases. Then, a professor brought up her very nonprofit experience in class.  “It’s interesting to see how, even down to my volunteer work, everything that I learned in the program continues to come up as useful and meaningful right now.”

She advises future students to never take resources for granted, and continue to make the most of this incredible community. “Take advantage of any connections that you make through the program and really get that advice. McGeorge’s resources absolutely helped in making decisions about where I wanted to end up professionally.

Interested in applying to McGeorge School of Law’s Online MSL program? Apply now!

Policy Advocate

Advance Your Policy Advocate Career

Policy Advocate

The umbrella of public policy and advocacy encompasses many different career paths, which is good news if you’re interested in pursuing one of them. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for public policy workers is expected to grow by 13% by 2024. While an advanced degree is not mandatory for a career in this field, 48% of people obtain one. An advanced degree in Public Policy and Advocacy, such as a Master of Studies in Law (MSL), gives you deeper knowledge and expertise, making you more marketable in terms of employment. 

McGeorge School of Law offers an MSL in Government Law and Policy. Our courses empower our students with the knowledge, professional skills, and broadened perspective required to succeed in a rapidly changing legal environment.

What Is Public Policy Advocacy?

Public policy advocacy encompasses a wide range of career possibilities and job duties. Essentially, advocates influence decision-makers – those making the laws and policies of our nations. Public policy advocacy can include:

  • Lobbying
  • Public education
  • Capacity building
  • Leadership development
  • Litigation 

Policy advocates become experts on specific issues and create a dialogue between stakeholders and government decision-makers. This involves creating proposals and then recommendations to alter existing policies, or creating new ones. Public policy advocates should be trusted advisors and respected professionals in their dealings, regardless of industry. Effective advocacy involves knowing where and when to exert your influence.

Why We Advocate

Public policy advocates are important because they strive to achieve the greatest good for the communities they serve. Law and policymakers cannot know everything, so advocates provide additional knowledge to lawmakers. Experts in their field can advise lawmakers on nuances they may not have been aware of. Advocacy ensures that the community:

  • Has their rights protected and promoted
  • Has their voice heard on issues that are important and affect their lives
  • Has their views, wishes, and concerns considered when decisions are made and laws created that can affect their daily lives

Advocates are a crucial part of the democratic system, promoting an informed, healthy, and strong democratic society. They raise awareness for issues that otherwise would not have gained traction. Public policy advocates are an important bridge between policymakers and their constituents. 

How McGeorge’s MSL Program Can Advance Your Public Advocacy Career

McGeorge’s MSL program in Government Law and Policy was built on our nationally-ranked program in public law at McGeorge’s renowned Capital Center for Law & Policy. Here, you learn from professors and practitioners who are experts in law, legislative processes, regulation, and policymaking. 

With so many paths for a public policy advocate, you might think that a law degree is the only advanced degree option. Our program is designed for local, state, and federal agency employees, as well as 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 to succeed. With our courses, you gain real-world knowledge and develop practical skills. Our faculty are chosen for their outstanding teaching methods as well as their surpassing knowledge in government law and policy, enabling you to build marketable expertise under their guidance.

Our entire program takes place online, a structure that serves our students. Courses are asynchronous, meaning that students do not need to be online at any specific time. Students can schedule their coursework around other commitments. Whether you are employed or have other personal obligations, you can obtain your MSL without missing a beat. We help you personalize a coursework plan that meets your goals while being effective and engaging. 

If you strive to make an impact in the world through public policy and advocacy, contact McGeorge School of Law today to get started. 

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.

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