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Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs

The Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs at the Western New England University School of Law was established in 2000 to offer students the opportunity to participate in activities relating to the legislative process. Recently, traditional law areas, such as contract, property, and tort, have evolved to include underpinnings of statutory law, and criminal law is completely statutory.

Through participation in the Institute, students engage in the practical application of law by assisting public officials in drafting legislation, exploring the codification and progressive development of laws, and examining recently enacted bills. This allows them to experience an area of law that has become indispensable to most practicing lawyers.

Students gain further exposure through the Institute's course offerings (including Legislation and Administrative law), independent studies, internships, and externships, which provide a thorough understanding in how to interpret and draft statutes as well as in the intricacies of the legislative process.

Additional events offered at the Institute, such as seminars, workshops, and legislative hearings, are open to alumni and the general public. The Institute is a great resource for alumni, state and local officials, and practicing attorneys who are interested in a variety of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs offered both in conjunction with the state bar associations and independently of them.

All events are free and open to the public.

Upcoming Events

  • Upcoming Events

    Upcoming events for the Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs will be posted as they are scheduled.

    All Legislative Institute events are open to students, alumni, the University community, and the general public.

    Prior talks can be viewed by visiting the Law Library Digital Commons webpage and typing “Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs” in the search terms box.

Past Events

  • Past Events

    Descriptions of our past events can be viewed below.

Spring 2019

Naturalization Ceremony
Friday, April 12, 2018

The Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs sponsored a Naturalization Ceremony welcoming new citizens. Federal District Court Judge Mark Mastroianni presided over the judicial proceeding to swear-in the new citizens.

“Is Trump’s National Emergency Legal?”
Thursday, March 7, 2019
Professors Bruce Miller and Art Wolf discussed the legality of President Trump’s National Emergency Declaration. Among other topics, they examined the National Emergencies Act of 1976; separation of powers; disputed facts on the need for the emergency order; congressional authority over appropriations; presidential power to use appropriate funds as he wishes; and relevant judicial precedents.


Fall 2018

The Impact of President Trump's Tarriffs
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Senator Eric Lesser spoke on the impact of President Trump's tariffs on our local economy, especially here in western Massachusetts.

23rd Annual Supreme Court Review Conference
Saturday, October 20, 2018
Panelists discussed important cases the Court decided during the past year and the direction the Supreme Court may follow after the Senate confirmed Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the court. Panelists included School of Law Dean Sudha Setty, professors Jennifer Levi, Bruce Miller, and Art Wolf, and Professor Emeritus Leora Harpaz.  

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day
Monday, September, 17, 2018
The Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs sponsored the commemoration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. Guest speaker was Western England University Professor John Baick.

Spring 2018

Guest speaker Attorney Margot Parrott
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Attorney Parrott discussed the Commission on the Status of Women's work in gathering information on the needs of Massachusetts women and girls and translating those needs into legislative advocacy.

Naturalization Ceremony
Friday, March 30, 2018
The Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs sponsored a Naturalization Ceremony welcoming new citizens. Federal District Court Judge Mark Mastroianni presided over the judicial proceeding to swear-in the new citizens. 

Celebration of Women in Public Service
Friday, March 9, 2018
The Western New England University School of Law’s Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs hosts a celebration of Women's History Month. The program will honor Massachusetts Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Massachusetts Commissioner on the Status of Women and Springfield School Committee member Denise Hurst, and Springfield City Councilor Kateri Walsh for their dedication to public service. 

Fall 2017

Attorney Shihana Alazzaz: “A Saudi Woman in the Corner Office.”Tuesday, September 5, 2017
The Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs hosts the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts guest speaker Attorney Shihana Alazzaz who discusses her journey as one of the first women licensed to practice law in Saudi Arabia in her talk titled, “A Saudi Woman in the Corner Office.”

Commemoration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day with Professor Alice Hearst
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Smith College Professor Alice Hearst shares an hour of essential Constitution and Citizenship lore!

The 22nd Annual Supreme Court Review
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Professor Art Wolf and other law faculty (Professor Emeritus Leora Harpaz and Professors Buzuvis and Miller) discuss the important decisions of the Supreme Court 2016-17 term. 

Senator Eric Lesser, "The Role States Play in the Trump Era"
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

League of Women Voters: City Council Candidate Forum and Conversations
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
The Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs hosted a Forum produced by the Springfield office of the Massachusetts League of Women Voters which featured the 10 candidates for at-large Council seats, with moderated questions developed from the public. 

Summer 2017

Spring 2017

President Trump First 100 Days Series

Session 1
January 19, 2017  – Electoral College and Inauguration

Session 2
January 26, 2017 – President Trump’s Inaugural Address

A Forum on Immigration Issues in Hampden County
February 3, 2017

Session 3
Feb 9, 2017 - Replacing Justice Scalia (cancelled due to snowstorm)

Session 4
February 16, 2017
The Future of Healthcare

Session 5
March 2, 2017 Litigating the Trump Immigration Order

Session 6
March 7, 2017 – Environmental Law in the Trump Administration

Session 7
March 23, 2017 – Impact on Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Session 8
March 28, 2017 – Trump and International Organizations

Session 9
April 6, 2017 – Trump and Terrorism

Session 10
April 10 – Civil Rights in Education 

Session 11
April 20, 2017 – LGBTQ Concerns


Summer 2017

Public Hearing on Clean Energy and Climate Change
une 12, 2017, Blake Law Center


Fall 2016

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day Friday
September 16, 2016 
Join us for a commemoration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. Professor Sudha Setty will speak on “U.S. Constitutionalism in a Global Context.”

21st Annual Supreme Court Review Conference
September 24, 2016 Blake Law Center, Moot Court Room (Simulcast in the Law Common)  Featured Speakers: Professor Bruce Miller, Professor Art Wolf, Professor Emeritus Art Leavens, and other members of the faculty will review important decisions of the Supreme Court’s last term, 2015-2016. This program is part of the Law School Homecoming/Alumni Weekend September 23-24. 

Naturalization Ceremony
October 28, 2016 
U.S. District Judge, Mark G. Mastroianni presiding. This special ceremony will welcome new citizens and their families.

FALL 2015

Constitution/Citizenship Day – Naturalization Ceremony (reception to follow in Law Common)
Friday, September 18, 2015
U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine A. Robertson presided.
Video of Ceremony

State Legislature Joint Judiciary Committee Hearing
Monday, September 28, 2015
The joint committee, composed of members of both the House and the Senate of the Massachusetts Legislature, held a hearing on several pending bills, with a focus on human trafficking and the protection of international human rights. Video of Hearing

20th Annual Supreme Court Review Conference
Saturday, October 3, 2015
Featured Speakers: Professors Leora Harpaz, Jennifer Levi, Bruce Miller, and Art Wolf
Moderator: Art Wolf
Four professors participated in the Supreme Court Review Conference. Professor Leora Harpaz addressed the Supreme Court’s use of the “government speech” doctrine to permit the State of Texas to reject a specialty license plate that included a Confederate battle flag.  Professor Jennifer Levi discussed the Court’s recent decision declaring unconstitutional state bans on same-sex marriage. Professor Bruce Miller examined the Court’s latest decision regarding the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (commonly referred to as “Obamacare”). Professor Art Wolf then joined Professor Miller in discussing an important decision regarding the enforcement of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Video of Conference

FALL 2014

19th Annual Supreme Court Review Conference
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Featured Speakers: Leora Harpaz, Jennifer Levi and Bruce Miller
Moderator:  Art Wolf
The speakers focused on decisions involving freedom of religion, freedom of speech and assembly, affirmative action for racial minorities, and same gender marriage.

Naturalization Ceremony
Friday, October 24, 2014
U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Mastroianni presided.

Senatorial Debate
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
1st Hampden and Hampshire Senatorial District
Candidates: Debra Boronski and Eric Lesser
The event was streamed live via Ludlow Public Access TV. Following the debate, there was a reception in the Law Common with the candidates

FALL 2013

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Legislative Hearing: Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Each year, the Institute has the privilege of hosting public hearings of committees of the State Legislature. These hearings make it possible for residents of western Massachusetts to voice their opinions without having to travel to Boston. This year we are honored to present the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, with Senate Chair Gale Candaras and House Chair Joe Wagner of Chicopee. 

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day
September 16, 2013
Professor Jennifer Levi was the keynote speaker.

18th Annual Supreme Court Review Conference
October 4, 2013 
The 2012-13 Supreme Court decisions included marriage equality, voting rights, voter registration, affirmative action, international human rights, privacy, patents, and employment discrimination. The presentation featured professors Leora Harpaz, Art Leaven, Bruce Miller, Giovanna Shay, and Art Wolf.

In the media

  • Media Appearances

    View presentations below.

Appearance on WGBY Connecting Point discussing appointment of new supreme court justice

Western New England University School of Law Professor and Constitutional expert Arthur Wolf discusses the controversy surrounding the appointment of a new Justice to the Supreme Court of the United States, filling the vacancy created by the sudden death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Click here to view presentation.

Perspectives Articles

  • Perspectives Articles

    Perspectives Articles about Institute events can be viewed by clicking on dates below.