Helping Your Client’s Case by Changing the Law

Today’s  podcast  is  on  helping  your  client’s  legal  problem  by changing  the  law.

Any  lawyer  can  apply  the  facts  of  his  or  her  case  to  the  law  as  it  exists  today,  but  a  really  good  lawyer  is  one  who  would  look  closely  at  changing  the  law  to  benefit  his  or  her  client’s  legal  position.

What should you do as a lawyer for your client?  I  think  a  lawyer  should  complete  a  policy  analysis  of  any  issue  facing  his  or  her  client  and  potential  changes  to  the  law  that  could  be  made,  either  statutory  or  regulatory,  that  would  benefit  his  or  her  client.

Lawyers  need  to  have  a  firm  understanding  of  the  area  of  the  law  and  what  has  led  to  the  current  statutory  or  regulatory  issue,  and  what  are  the  pros  and  the  cons  of  a  particular  approach  to  changing  that  statute  or  regulation?  Look  at  using  a  lobbyist  to  help  change  the  law,  or  the  lawyer  himself  or  herself  could  make  that  similar  attempt.

An  effective  lobbyist  will  understand  the  politics  and  policy  regarding  a  particular  subject  matter  and  has  the  ability  to  make  statutory  or  regulatory  changes.  Then,  just  like  a  lawyer,  a  lobbyist  advocates  for  his  or  her  client’s  position  with  those  responsive  decision-makers.

Basically,  a  well-rounded  lawyer  will  appreciate  that  solving  his  or  her  client’s  legal  problem  can  sometimes  be  accomplished  by  actually  changing  the  law  in  those  cases  where  the  law  may  not  be  favorable  to  a  potential  client  outcome  or  position.

I hope you enjoy today’s podcast!

One Committee Down, Many More to Go

Keri and Michelle are back, and (SPOILER ALERT!) their bill, AB 1784, cleared its first major hurdle, the Assembly Committee on Human Services – and on a unanimous, 7-0 vote, no less.

The hearing was the culmination all the prep work that Michelle and Keri talked about last week. But, despite all that prep work and positive feedback, the day was not without its stresses. Assembly Human Services was the first make or break moment for the bill. Coupling that with the fact that AB 1784’s fate was ultimately in the hands of the committee members and not in the control of Michelle and Keri, it’s understandable that they’d have a case of nerves.

But, it’s worth highlighting here that Keri and Michelle made a very smart decision in their planning for the Committee hearing by having Jen Rexroad, The Executive Director of the California Alliance of Caregivers, be one of the three people – the other two being Michelle and Assembly Member Maienschein – delivering testimony to the committee. When you’re working on a bill, it’s never easy to say, ‘I’m not the best voice for this right now,’ but Keri and Michelle clearly made the right strategic call by having someone who can speak for resource families up there to compliment Michelle – with her background in social work – and Assembly Member Maienschein.

And now, with Assembly Human Services in the rear view mirror, the next test is the Assembly Appropriations Committee. As Keri and Michelle note, the bill is destined for the Suspense File. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any drama or aren’t some very interesting developments. But we’ll leave those developments for next week’s episode.

On this week’s episode of The CAP⋅impact Podcast we talk with John Finley, who is with the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault – or CALCASA for short – about their recent report – The Cost and Consequences of Sexual Violence in California. The report is a very interesting, and sobering, read about the sheer amount of sexual violence that’s occurred in California and what the financial impact of that violence is for California taxpayers. The other topic John and I discuss is the joint effort that CALCASA is engaged in with the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

CALCASA and The Partnership are working together to get a funding increase from California’s state budget that would allow crisis centers across California to put more preventative policies and measures into action. These new preventative programs would be in addition to the emergency services that they already provide. If that team up of two coalitions sounds like a lobbying coalition to you, you probably read Chris Micheli’s piece earlier this week on utilizing successful lobbying coalitions, which is also featured in today’s episode.

I hope you enjoy today’s podcast. As always, you can find the show on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher Radio. If you enjoyed today’s show, please leave us a 5-star review on iTunes and Apple Podcasts while you’re there. Doing so will help other people find The CAP⋅impact Podcast more easily.

And again, if you want to find the report by the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault that John and I discussed – The Cost and Consequences of Sexual Violence in California – you can find the full report here.




Compromise and Gridlock

Today’s post is on compromise and gridlock in the California legislative process. Gridlock and compromise are often inherent aspects of any law making process, and California’s Legislature is no exception.

The problem is that the usual approach to law making, often involving alignment from political parties to advance their particular position, all too often leads to no results, or questionable results, or even contested results. The political parties fight, and legislation doesn’t pass, or the parties fight, and the resulting legislation does little to advance a solution, or it contains significant flaws, or the losing parties continue to attack or try to undermine or overturn the legislation that was adopted.

While gridlock is caused by the way we’ve traditionally practiced policy making, it’s also the result of some vote requirements. For example, California has different types of bills that require a two-thirds supermajority of the legislature.

Under normal circumstances, the domination of political parties and specific interest groups make compromise too difficult to achieve when it comes to certain high profile controversial legislation, and every two years, election year politics aimed at creating stark differences between the political parties often also makes compromise more difficult.

Some of us believe that in order to overcome gridlock, at least three critical conditions must occur –  a committed and capable group of leaders who want to do things differently, a change in the mindset and the process in the way proposals are put together, and a focus on the long term best interests of the people in the state of California.

Also, there’s an alternative method of compromise, which is accompanied by the use of a win win negotiating process, which often leads to a more durable public policy determination.

I hope you enjoy this podcast and learn about gridlock and compromise in the California legislature.




President Trump announced on Wednesday, April 4th that he planned to deploy the National Guard to patrol the U.S. – Mexican border to prevent illegal immigration. California Governor Jerry Brown, who is in charge of overseeing the deployment of National Guard troops in California, agreed to cooperate.

But why the request from the Trump administration to increase the number of troops on the border? The number of apprehensions at the U.S. border is at the lowest it has been in over 17 years. The Trump Administration believes that this number will increase in the future. Further, former Presidents George W. Bush and Obama both deployed troops to the border to enforce immigration, but at varied amounts of personnel, with the overall number of agents increasing dramatically since 1995.

The Trump Administration did not initially release any specifics about the number of troops, deployment times, or costs with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stating, “I don’t want to get ahead of the governors. This is a partnership with them.”

California has 55 border patrol officers assisting in the prevention of illegal drugs and Governor Brown on Wednesday April 10th, announced that he would send an additional 400 National Guard members to patrol the border in response to President Trump’s announcement.

However, Governor Brown wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Defense Secretary James N. Mattis. “This will not be a mission to build a new wall. It will not be a mission to round up women and children or detain people escaping violence and seeking a better life. And the California National Guard will not be enforcing federal immigration laws… Here are the facts: there is no massive wave of immigrants pouring into California. Overall immigration apprehensions on the border last year were as low as they’ve been in nearly 50 years (and 85 percent of the apprehensions occurred outside of California).”

President Trump himself tweeted: “California Governor Jerry Brown is doing the right thing and sending the National Guard to the Border. Thank you Jerry, good move for the safety of our Country!” Early Tuesday April 17th, President Trump changed his tune and criticized Governor Brown’s handling of the situation.

When asked about the disagreement, Governor Brown commented “Trying to stop drug smuggling, human trafficking and guns going to Mexico, to the cartels, that sounds to me like fighting crime. Trying to catch some desperate mothers and children or unaccompanied minors coming from Central America, that sounds like something else.” However, he announced that they were very close to an agreement about the National Guard troops to be sent.




How to Successfully Utilize Lobbying Coalitions

Today’s podcast is on utilizing lobbying coalitions. A vital aspect of lobbying in California is to join forces with other similarly situated parties because a larger group is often more powerful and effective than a single voice, or even just a few.

These organized efforts often draw more attention to an advocacy position and allow decision makers to know that many groups share the same perspective on a pending bill or issue. And quite frankly, in most cases, a collective voice is more effective than just a single voice. I think the key to running a successful lobbying coalition is to keep the group cohesive when working for or against an issue or measure.

Lobbying coalitions can also provide other benefits. One is that individual companies or interest groups may not want to be the only ones publicly involved in the bill or issue. As such, a lobbying coalition provides cover, if you will, for others to be more public and vocal with their position. A lobbying coalition can also provide funding to – for example – hire a grassroots firm or a media relations company to work on different aspects of a lobbying campaign.

Coalitions can be a critical component of effective lobbying because elected officials and their staff are often more interested or persuaded on an issue or bill when there are multiple voices weighing in on a particular issue or measure. What would you find more persuasive, an entire industry united in support or opposition to a bill, or just a couple companies?

Lobbying coalitions are also important because they allow for division of labor among their participants by ensuring that all the key legislators are being lobbied on a bill or use. That may not always occur if just one individual or group is responsible for lobbying a particular measure.

Lastly, it’s worth remembering that while it’s often said that two heads are better than one, it’s equally important to keep in mind that too many cooks spoil the meal. Both of these clichés are equally valid when applied to a lobbying coalition, and it’s important for an organization’s leader to be able to assess which one applies in a given situation.

Preparing for Policy Committee

In today’s edition of The Clinic, we dive into the process of preparing for a policy committee hearing with Michelle and Keri. It is a long process with lots of steps and lots of people to keep in the loop along the way.

The process started with some initial conversations – back when AB 1784 was just a policy proposal – with some of the consultants to the Assembly Committee on Human Services. That led to more in depth conversations, with more pointed questions about AB 1784, that was assigned to that Assembly Human Services.

In addition to those conversations, Keri and Michelle were also meeting with the Republican party’s consultant to the committee, and the staff of every member on the Assembly committee.

The prep process was also a lesson – learned the hard way – in not falling in love with your bill. In order for AB 1784 to clear the Assembly Human Services Committee, there were some fairly significant changes that Michelle and Keri needed to make. Nothing so drastic that it would dramatically alter what the bill would do – in fact it still would basically do what our two students lobbying the bill want it to do – but enough that they would not be able to say that their bill did not emerge from the committee completely unscathed.

Be sure to tune in for more details from the conversations Keri and Michelle had, what changes were made to AB 1784, and more.


Today’s episode of The CAP•impact Podcast takes a look at the impacts of changes at the federal level on the regulated cannabis market in California and looks at how that new market is doing.

For the analysis of federal policy changes, primarily the decision in January by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rescind the Cole Memorandum, you might recognize the comments from McGeorge School of Law Professor Mike Vitiello. He talks about what the Cole Memo did, the immediate impact of it being rescinded by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and what the longer term impact of it has looked like. He also gives his thoughts as to the real impact the decision to rescind the Cole Memo will have in California, and on the cannabis industry nationwide.

We then chat with Dustin Moore, a Principal at Main Street Strategies and the Deputy Campaign Manager for 2016’s Yes on Prop 64 campaign, to talk about how the roll out of the legalized adult use of recreational cannabis is going in California, the challenges new businesses are facing, and some of the solutions being discussed to address those challenges. The Cole Memo comes up briefly here as well, but we focus primarily on the hurdles the have emerged in the process of creating a regulated market for recreation adult use of cannabis in California and how the market in California differs from the markets in other states that legalized cannabis before California did.

If you found our conversation about the role of local governments in the new regulated cannabis markets interesting, you should also look into this series the Orange County Register on cannabis laws in cities and counties across California.

You can find the full interview with Dustin, and the rest of this week’s episode on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you find your podcasts.

The Many Roles of Your District Attorney

On today’s episode I sat down to speak with Ana Zamora. She’s the Criminal Justice Policy Director for the ACLU of Northern California and she is running their Meet Your DA campaign here in California. This is a slightly different take on our Policy Change in that instead of discussing the process of changing public policy, we discuss the process of implementing – or not implementing in some cases – a recently changed policy.

Meet Your DA is a slightly different kind of campaign. It’s not directly trying to elect particular candidates to District Attorneys’ offices across California. Rather, the campaign is focused on helping people get to know who their local District Attorney is, and highlight some of the positions those DA’s have taken on recent criminal justice reform ballot measures.

Ana and I also discuss the power and influence that a District Attorney has in local law enforcement and how that influence plays out in the criminal justice and prison systems in California.

We also dive into the different roles that a District Attorney plays. The most obvious is the role of prosecutor and representative of the people in court. But getting back to the Meet Your DA campaign, we also talk about District Attorney’s role as a policy implementer and how embrace, or not embrace, recent criminal justice reform measures that have been passed by California’s voters via the initiative process.




Advocacy in Practice with Erin Evans-Fudem

For today’s podcast, I sat down McGeorge alum Erin Evans-Fudem (’13), who is a Legislative Representative for the League of California Cities (also known as the League). Full disclosure, we did record this interview a while back. But while one part of the conversation will sound dated, the rest is evergreen. Our conversation definitely differs from the previous Advocacy in Practice interviews that I had with Chris Micheli and Ray LeBov.

Erin focuses on environmental quality and community services for the League. That means she gets to work on all the really fun issues, like water, energy, air quality, utilities, etc. There were a couple of things that really stood out to me in my interview with her.

The first is that with Erin being closer to her time in law school than Chris or Ray, she was quick to point out where law students and job seekers interested in the Capitol can look to find jobs. She also stressed the importance of being visible, of putting yourself out there. She brought up an anecdote of running into the right person at the right time, and while the encounter was unplanned it proved fruitful and led to a problem being solved quickly.

We discuss many more aspects of the lobbying profession in our interview. I hope you enjoy it.