Capital Ideas

NYU Law’s new clinic in Washington, DC,  ended its first term with a flourish. Robert Bauer, who is a distinguished scholar in residence and senior lecturer at NYU Law and former White House Counsel, co-taught the class with Visiting Professor of Law Sally Katzen, who is a former administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Students in the inaugural Legislative and Regulatory Process Clinic spent the fall semester examining the role of government lawyers in class, while gaining hands-on experience working at federal agencies and congressional offices.

Bob Bauer“Because I am pursuing a Washington-based career, nurturing my academic understandings of such topics as legislation and agency regulatory processes has been essential,” says Douglas Petersen '14. “Through a meaningful position with the House Judiciary Committee, I have exercised and enhanced my practical skill sets, improved my understandings of lawmaking, and developed my professional network. Plus, the professors are phenomenal.”

To cap off the DC semester, Bauer and Katzen organized a December 12 workshop at NYU's L Street campus, titled “Exploring Polarization: A Conversation," which concluded with remarks from former Senator and Majority Leader Tom Daschle. The discussion demonsrated the potency of blending  pedagogy with discussion and debate in the nation's capital among officials who deal on a daily basis with the machinery of policymaking.

Sally Katzen

The polarization workshop was not the first time clinic students had an opportunity to hear from DC insiders. In the midst of the government shutdown in October, a group of NYU Law-affiliated experts convened to discuss the debt ceiling, the shutdown, and their potential effects on the economy and on the political climate in the United States over the longterm. Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of the Washington Post, moderated a panel that included Bauer and Katzen, as well as Sean Cairncross ’01, partner at HoltzmanVogelJosefiak and former deputy executive director and general counsel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee; Professor David Kamin ’09, former special assistant to the president for economic policy; and Michael Waldman ’87, president of the Brennan Center for Justice and former director of speechwriting for President Bill Clinton.

From left to right:  Fred Hiatt, Sean Cairncross, Sally Katzen, Bob Bauer, David Kamin, and Michael Waldman

"For aspiring government lawyers and others attracted to public service, a semester in the nation's capital provides an invaluable way to gain practical experiences and connections while learning first-hand about the roles lawyers play in our government," says Eric Messinger ’14. "I leaped at the opportunity to participate and have found it to be a terrific experience."