McGeorge School of Law’s recent webinar, hosted by the online Master of Science in Law (MSL) program, was focused on the dynamic field of Government Law and Policy. The session featured Jamie Taylor, Director of the California Senate Fellows Program and esteemed McGeorge alumnus, who shared his insights on navigating the complexities of government law and the transformative impact of the MSL degree on public sector careers. 

Katjana Wurschum, Assistant Director of Graduate Online Programs at McGeorge, presented Jamie with some practical questions. His answers provide practical insights, advice, and expert information for current or aspiring professionals in the public sector, as well as for prospective MSL students.

Could you share with us how your journey in political community and legislative affairs led you to pursue your MSL at McGeorge?

“Going through the McGeorge MSL experience starting in 2014 was a real game-changer,” Jamie says. It began with writing a personal statement that led him to focus on his goals and identity. The assignment turned out to have a lasting impact. “It matters for me personally in the work I do every single day … right away, as I was applying, I was thinking about ‘where did I come from and where do I want to be?’” 

Jamie grew up in the Bay Area, where members of his family lost their property due to redevelopment. His grandmother, who was one of the first women of color to open a nightclub in San Francisco, was fighting for her stolen legacy. He and his family didn’t understand the language of the law spoken around them, and Jamie noticed the negative effects. “It burned into my mind the importance of protecting one’s community, understanding the language of the law, and being able to communicate with people in power. I realized this is something that I need to know how to do better.” 

Jamie was very clear in his intention, which kickstarted his next step on the journey both to McGeorge and where he is now. “As soon as I got into the MSL program, then finished that experience, along came another job opportunity that I was prepared for. I was confident in my skills and had the educational background that the state wanted, so I essentially took away all the ‘no’s by getting that higher degree.”

How do you see an MSL degree enhancing the skill set of professionals entering a professional and legislative career?

Jamie details the high impact and tremendous value of not just an MSL degree, but one that’s specifically from McGeorge School of Law. “It’s unparalleled, what you’ll receive in terms of your legal reasoning skills. You will be amongst people in a cohort that often work in and around the government, so you’ll be sharpening your legal reasoning ax with others in government spaces and having conversations about policy from that standpoint.” 

“Your research, writing, and verbal communication will take a big step forward. Conflict resolution, mediation, negotiation … these are just the tip of the iceberg of things you’ll pick up along the way that are very useful anywhere, but much more in government. I would say that the MSL program enhances all of these skill sets.”

How did the MSL degree inform your approach to leadership and mentorship?

“I’ve always had a passion for the law, but I think going through McGeorge gave me a passion for justice …. a big part of my MSL experience was being around practitioners and professors who were super passionate about the area of law they taught. Classmates as well – we would have really passionate conversations about the law in class, and that translates well to working in government.”

“I don’t think you can serve people unless you’re passionate and you understand their needs. If you’re passionate about justice and politics, you’re passionate about people.” Jamie also speaks to the adaptability, creativity, confidence, negotiation, and more key skills gained through the MSL program at McGeorge.”

What challenges do professionals in government law and policy face today, and how does the MSL equip them to address these challenges?

Jamie notes that the field faces a current lack of applied writing skills. “Learning how to write in this space and adapt to the needs of the audience in this space,” is key.  As we are creating legislation, it needs to be steeped in certain facts as well as certain bits of information – but not all of the information, because there are attention spans that are very short because of the amount of work that needs to be done!”

“If you think, ‘I wish I could write better,’ that’s excellent. Go for it with the MSL program because your skills are going to take off. If you have an MSL degree or a legal background, the writing that you do will be that much more precise and effective for your audience. If you are seeking an opportunity to go back and sharpen your writing skills, you will be a very good written and verbal communicator once you come out of the program.”

What advice would you give to public sector professionals who are contemplating an MSL to advance their careers? 

Passion is the key to succeeding in a graduate degree program. “Really take a look at what you want to do on the policy side. I think McGeorge offers an unparalleled experience …. Don’t go back to school to figure out what you want to do, go back to school saying, ‘I’m really passionate about [for example] water law, and I really want to get into water law.’ You really want to be passionate about what you’re going back to school for, especially with the MSL program. Look at McGeorge through that lens and you’ll have a great experience.” 

How do you see the role of MSL-educated professionals evolving the landscape of government law and policy?

There are many exciting opportunities for graduates of McGeorge’s online Master of Science in Law (MSL) program. “Having a legal background and experience working in law translates to better legislation. I think MSL-educated professionals will make better legislation. I think they’ll take into consideration their understanding of the law, but also, they will apply their research and communication skills in ways that will translate to better, longer-lasting, and more durable forms of legislation.”

The online Master of Science in Law (MSL) in Government Law & Policy is designed for local, state, and federal agency employees, lobbyists, legislative staff, and recent graduates, to enhance their skills in lawmaking, regulation, election law, and lobbying. 

This fully online program, rooted in McGeorge’s nationally-ranked public law program, offers practical training and expertise taught by experienced faculty. Courses focus on real-world knowledge and the development of practical skills in government law and policy, translating to in-demand skills.

All of McGeorge’s online graduate courses are designed to be flexible, effective, and engaging. The courses are designed to provide regular and substantial interaction between faculty and students, but primarily asynchronous, which means you view them when you want to, at a time convenient for your schedule.

Contact us to get all your questions answered and receive guidance on the application process!

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