This seminar will teach participants how to turn a policy idea into a piece of legislation that is clear, concise, and legally effective. We will first cover the basics of legislative drafting, such as legislative style and the components of a bill, before beginning to draft our own bills. As participants progress, we will cover more complex forms of drafting, such as amending bills and statutes. Participants will also have the chance to “road test” their work in a mock committee markup.
Past seminar participants include professional legislative drafters from drafting offices from around the world; policy experts employed in agencies not directly involved in drafting, but who want to be able to better work with their legislative drafting counterparts; private consultants wishing to add legislative drafting to the range of skills they can offer their clients; and groups working on a specific project for which drafting knowledge would be beneficial.
While most of the instructors are practitioners in the U.S. legal system and the course is focused on English-language drafting, the skill sets you develop can be used in many different countries and contexts.
No previous drafting experience is necessary, and all levels of experience are welcome.
The seminars are currently offered both in-person and online simultaneously, at the choice of the participant. This choice must be indicated at the time of registration. A small number of courses are scheduled to be delivered exclusively in person or online, and are indicated as such in the 2024 schedule. In-Person Only seminars usually start at 9:30 am Washington D.C. time. Daily sessions usually end at 4:00 pm. Breaks (including the lunch break) are allocated as appropriate. Online Only seminars will be delivered through five (for 1-week course) or ten (for 2-weeks course) live online sessions via videoconferencing platform. Each session will last approximately 3.5 hours and will be scheduled to start within a time window of 7:00 am – 8:30 am Washington D.C. time. Hybrid In-Person/Online seminars will start at a time most convenient to both in-person and online participants, and will generally follow the In-Person seminar format. We expect the classes to be highly interactive and can include presentations, case studies and exercises.
This seminar will include the following core sessions:
Good Writing in a Legislative Context
- Recognizing good and bad legislative drafting
- Drafting clear legislative sentences
- Plain language, gender neutral, active voice, use of singular, etc.
- In-class exercises to build your skill sets
- Legislative drafting manuals and style manuals
- Variations in legislative style
- U.S. revenue style
- The role of the legislative drafter in policy formulation
- Application, administration, enforcement, and timing
Components of a Bill
- Organization of provisions within a bill
- Titles and headings
- Enacting and resolving clauses
- Purposes, findings, and senses of Congress
- General rules and exceptions
- Effective dates and sunset provisions
- Authorization of appropriations
- Savings clauses and severability clauses
- In-class practice drafting various provisions
Drafting a Simple Bill
- In-class practice turning a proposal for legislation into legislative language
Drafting Amendments to Bills
- The legislative process for amending bills
- The form and language of amendments to bills
- An in-class mock committee mark-up
Drafting Amendments to Statutes
- The form and language of amendments to statutes
- Drafting inside and outside of the quotes
- The Roman Rule
Technology in Legislative Drafting
- Computer software options for legislative drafting
- Tips and tricks to make formatting easier
The seminar will also contain a number of rotating sessions, which dive deeper into specific areas of legislative drafting. Several of the sessions below will be offered each seminar, depending on interest and instructor availability:
- Establishing and abolishing a government agency
- Drafting spending programs
- Drafting grant programs
- Drafting government commissions
- Appropriations drafting
- Drafting regulatory bills
- Drafting tax bills
- Implementation of trade agreements through domestic legislation
- Drafting other forms of legislation (resolutions, etc.)
- Drafting regulations (secondary legislation)
- Drafting model laws
- Statutory interpretation
- Management of legislative drafting offices
- Support offices (i.e. budget, research, law revision)
- Comparative legislative processes
Warren Burke is a senior counsel in the Office of the Legislative Counsel of the United States House of Representatives, where he drafts legislation on a nonpartisan basis. He taught legislative drafting and procedure at the Graduate School, USDA, from 2008 to 2016, taught a 2-week workshop for the legislative drafting services of the Liberian House and Senate in 2013, and served as a Fulbright specialist teaching public health law in India in 2023. He was among the founders of the International Conference on Legislation and Law Reform which he chaired from 2013 through 2018. He has served the Federal Bar Association as General Counsel, National Parliamentarian, and Chair of the Constitution, Bylaws, Rules, and Resolutions Committee. He received his JD from Tulane Law School and his BA from The University of Texas at Austin.
Kimberly K. Faith is formerly assistant counsel for the Office of the Legislative Counsel of the United States House of Representatives, where she drafted over 500 pieces of legislation for elected Members of Congress. She is active in the international legislative drafting community; she is an organizer of the International Conference on Legislation and Law Reform, for which she is the 2022 conference chair, she served as guest editor of the International Journal of Legislative Drafting and Law Reform in 2018 and 2019, and she is an active member of the Commonwealth Association of Legislative Counsel. She regularly teaches courses on the American government and the Constitution and has taught a three-week intensive course on federal legislation and legislative drafting at her alma mater, Tulane University Law School. She received a Juris Doctorate degree from Tulane University Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and International Development from the University of California, Los Angeles.