Law 948 - Policy Analysis and Advocacy

Benjamin Nyblade

Benjamin Nyblade

Director, Empirical Research Group
B.A. Oberlin College, 1997
Ph.D. UC San Diego, 2004
Course Description:

Lawyers’ advocacy for their clients and the public good often goes beyond direct representation of clients and involves critically evaluating and promoting better public policy and law through a wide variety of tools. This work is often done outside of the courtroom or lawyers’ offices; it is done on the streets through fact-gathering and work with community groups; it is done with academics, think tanks, legislative aides, and government officials. The J-term “Policy Analysis and Advocacy” course equips students with the skills and knowledge to both better evaluate the effects of policies and laws and to better advocate for reforms to improve those policies and laws. Each intensive class session will both introduce key knowledge and skills useful for policy and legislative analysis and advocacy and involve students in simulation exercises in which they apply what they have learned to simulations of various stages of policy advocacy, evaluation and legislation at multiple levels of government.  Over the two-week course, students will also, in small groups, design a policy campaign, and the final class will include presentations, discussion and critiques of each group's policy campaign design.

Course Learning Outcomes:

  1. Have a toolkit of policy analysis tools, including a working understanding of cost-benefit analysis, measurement theory, and the policy-making process;
  2. Improve their ability to read and apply social science analyses of public policies;
  3. Acquire methods of gathering on-the-ground information helpful in a policy campaign;
  4. Better understand how to communicate with clients in class action or institutional litigation about the identification and formulation of goals, and to weigh the tradeoffs across goals;
  5. Better understand how to develop a “theory of the case” and engage in case planning for class-action or institutional litigation;
  6. Learn and practice team-building skills for public-policy advocacy; and
  7. Have improved written and oral advocacy skills.