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Current Legal Issues in Government

This course challenges students to apply the​ir understanding of state government to a variety of issues that are of current interest to the executive, legislature and judiciary, as well as other participants in government processes. As applicable to New York state, these issues might address constitutional disputes, fiscal, economic and budget challenges and concerns about public integrity and ethics in government. Drawn from the daily developments in the public sector but having applicability to a broader audience, these issues will allow students to address in a comprehensive way a full range of topics and issues that ultimately define the way in which the State of New York operates.

Government Ethics ​

This course covers ethical issues faced by members of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government at the federal, state and local levels. This course will also consider the role of the government attorney in representing public sector clients and ethical responsibilities of attorneys in government service. Students will be introduced to the rules and regulatory schemes underlying government ethics, and will explore the purpose, history, intent and methods by which ethical conduct in the public sector is encouraged. A particular focus will be placed on New York state government, with emphasis on current issues.

Access to Government ​

This course involves a review of the law in the United States and abroad, with a concentration on New York law-including judicial interpretation-that is designed​ to promote open access to government as the public's right to know while guaranteeing safety and security for citizens.

​New York State Administrative Law

This course examines issues regarding New York state's administrative procedure act, adjudication and rule making by New York State age​ncies, and the relationship such agencies to other branches of state government.

State and Local Finance ​

This course examines the legal foundation for states and local governments to incur debt (municipal bonds) and the management of government budgets and financing activities (taking into account budget and financing problems in a declining economy), including a review of state constitutional and statutory law, federal tax law and federal securities law. The course examines various financing structures and the procedures required to authorize and issue debt. The course covers federal tax law requirements for issuing ​tax-exempt bonds, the new tax credit bonds authorized in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), and securities law disclosure obligations to investors when selling municipal bonds. The course also discusses new financing techniques, some using ARRA funds, to develop traditional projects, such as waste water and pure waters facilities, and to finance new projects such as alternative energy and green facilities. The course concludes with a discussion of best practices and ethical issues for attorneys engaged in municipal bond and public finance law.​​

Summer in Government Field Placements ​​

The Summer in Government Field Placement Course offers students a unique opportunity to spend seven weeks working in the capital of New York state under the supervision of a lawyer-mentor. Students wishing to experience government lawyering in a "real-life" learning laborato​ry will work side-by-side with policymakers, decision makers and other lawyers on a wide range of law and public policy issues. Students will also explore overarching issues in law practice, professional responsibility and public policy through classroom presentations from government and other attorneys, in-class assignments and exercises and reflective journaling.​