Semester in Olympia

The Semester in Olympia Program is an immersive experience in which students take full advantage of the curricular, extra-curricular, and professional opportunities available in our vibrant and influential capital city. Students who enroll in the program can obtain all semester credits through the specified courses and externship placements and seminars offered in Olympia.

Students who enroll in the Semester in Olympia Program can pursue one of two curricular options:

Full-Time Option - Externship Track

Students who qualify for a full-time externship may obtain all of their credits for the semester by obtaining and completing a full-time externship at one of the sites approved for full-time externship credit. This option is particularly appropriate for Washington State Supreme Court externships but is available at any of our other full-time externship sites. The Semester in Olympia Program is primarily intended for students doing externships in Thurston County but is also open on a space available basis to students pursuing substantively appropriate externships in surrounding areas who obtain the prior approval of the Vice Dean.

Students enrolled in a full-time externship as part of the Semester in Olympia Program will complete a one-credit live externship seminar in Olympia, either the Judicial Externship Seminar or the Olympia Public Policy, Legislation, and Regulation Externship Seminar. With permission of the Externship Program, students who undertake a full-time externship in a substantive area more properly covered by one of our other externship seminars may choose to participate in that seminar via video conference.

For more information please see the Externship Program page.

Part-Time Option - Externship and Government Coursework Track

Students may instead choose to enroll in the two substantive courses we will be offering in Olympia and to undertake a part-time externship at an approved site. Such students will also enroll in one of the two live externship seminars in Olympia. Students who undertake this track will receive six credits for their two academic courses and between 6-9 credits for their externship. The Externship office will work with each student who chooses this option to scale their work obligations to the amount of credits they want and need to obtain. 

For more information please see the Externship Program page.

Academic Courses: Spring 2020

Washington State Constitutional Law: Practice and Perspectives

This course will cover issues that arise under the Washington State Constitution in legal practice.  At the end of this court, students should able to:

  • Recognize that a client faces an issue under the State Constitution.
  • Design and execute research plans to make and assess arguments as to the appropriateness, under the state constitution, of various actual or proposed actions of state or local government entities.
  • Advise clients (public and private) as to availability of rights, remedies, or limitations on action under the state constitution.
  • Students will also have the chance to engage with important figures whose work in Olympia will shed light on the challenges and opportunities for lawyering in this arena.

Instructor: Laura Anglin graduated from Seattle University summa cum laude in 1999. She has spent most of the time since clerking at the Washington State Supreme Court. She left the court briefly to work for the Washington State Senate as Senate Counsel where she sat at the Lieutenant Governor’s left hand in an impressive but uncomfortable chair on the rostrum of the State Senate and advised senators on parliamentary, legal, and ethical issues. In 2014, she received the Professionalism Award from the Washington State Bar Association in recognition of her countless hours mentoring law students, law clerks, and externs. She has since returned to clerk for Justice González.

Legislation and Legislative Process

This class takes an in-depth look at American government with a focus on the Washington State legislature. It begins with context -- an exploration of issues such as ‘sovereignty”, “balance of powers”, and the “right to govern” --and then moves on to look at what a Legislature is, what it does, and how it works.  This will include discussions about how public policy is developed and the roles of legislators, legislative staff, lobbyists, political parties, and others.

The class will be interactive, involving class discussion, case studies, guest speakers, and field trips and will challenge students to think critically and look as issues that arise from various points of view.  It will provide students with a comprehensive overview of the legislative process and offer practical tips for working with the institution and the laws that it creates. The class is ultimately designed to demystify these complex systems so that each of the students will emerge with the tools to engage with confidence.


Instructor: Russell Lehman, a former legislative and gubernatorial adviser who has led several nonprofit and public affairs organizations, is the newest member of the Public Disclosure Commission. He was the director of enforcement for the Washington State Insurance Commissioner, an adviser to Gov. Mike Lowry and counsel for both the Washington and Connecticut legislatures.

Lehman founded and led the First American Education Project, a nonprofit aimed at raising the voice of Native Americans in the political process. More recently, he was executive director of Food Action, a Seattle-based organization that promotes sustainable farming and food systems. He also has consulted for numerous tribes and has served on the boards of Climate Solutions and the League of Education Voters.

A native of New York state, Lehman received a bachelor's degree in environmental studies from the University of Colorado Boulder and a JD degree from Antioch School of Law.