Journeys To The Other Washington

The winding down of Thanksgiving weekend means only one thing to law students: the mad-dash to outline, the deciphering of jargon in notebook margins, the sharp uptick in caffeination. This is finals pre-gaming at its finest.

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Modeling my custom carry-on to meet budget airline requirements. #lawstudentbudget

But we’re not there just yet. Rather than hurl forward into the inevitable abyss, I will linger here and savor these last few weeks. During this time I journeyed to Washington D.C.—“the other Washington,” as I like to call it—twice in a span of five days. The latter trip was your typical Thanksgiving pilgrimage, replete with tryptophan indulgences and hours upon hours of board games.

The purpose of my first trek was to attend a conference at the World Bank on Legislation and Law Reform. I had the pleasure of joining Professor Kealy, director of the Legislative Policy & Drafting Clinic, and three other BU Law students for this grand gathering.

Panelists included eminent legal scholars, educators, and government attorneys of all stripes from the U.S. and abroad. Each session focused on a different aspect of legislative drafting: Nigerian Senators spoke about drafting as a tool for preventing corruption in government; advocates discussed the importance of participative drafting in implementing sustainable development goals; and international law experts explained how consistent drafting improves regulatory quality in the EU. I would be remiss if I left out Professor Kealy’s excellent panel on teaching legislative drafting to law students, co-facilitated by Professor Louis Rulli from U. Penn Law School.nov2_federal-bar-lanyard

Perhaps the most fascinating legal tidbit I brought home from the conference was from the Nigerian panel. To promote best practices among Nigerian drafters, the Parliament enshrined in law drafting requirements for future pieces of legislation. Many of the standards were to be expected – clarity, readability, etc. The mandate that surprised me was a requirement that legislation not be ambiguous; laws may not have more than one possible interpretation. As I grappled with the implication of such a mandate, Chevron’s specter reared its head. My curiosity got the better of me and led me to ask I ask how this works in practice. Who determines whether a portion of a law is ambiguous? What happens when an ambiguity is recognized? As it turns out, the judiciary handles these hairy questions and determines meaning by looking to the legislature’s intent. I look forward to investigating the practical effect of this requirement once finals are in my rear view mirror.

In addition to providing substantive knowledge in new areas of law, policy, and drafting, this conference gave me a chance to meet two fabulous 3Ls from BU and network with law students from U Penn. Once again, thank you BU for sponsoring such a worthwhile conference and enabling us to attend.

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I can’t help but smile at how much fun I had these past few weeks. These satisfying memories will tide me over as I slowly withdraw into my study fort.

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