USC Gould students shape a bill that becomes law

A juvenile justice bill drafted and researched by USC Gould School of Law students was signed into law recently by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Ten USC law students in USC Gould’s Legislative Policy Practicum spent a semester researching and drafting the bill and advocating for the new law, known as SB 382. The law clarifies the criteria judges use when deciding whether certain juveniles will be transferred to the adult system to face sentences.

“This is a huge accomplishment for the students — they saw firsthand how the process works and how they can effect change in Sacramento,” said Professor Heidi Rummel, who teaches the practicum. “Most courses teach students how to interpret existing laws to win their case. In this class, we look at how to draft a new law to accomplish a specific policy goal. It’s a unique experience — for law students and also for most lawyers.”

Rummel guided the students through their research, which included understanding the legal ramifications and how the new law would intersect with existing laws and policies. The students developed messaging and advocacy strategies.

“We weighed in on big strategic decisions,” said Ashley Bobo, who is now a third-year student. “We had an up-close view on how bigger policy goals sometimes are best accomplished through baby steps.”