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LSI Students Study Constitutional Law and Gain Real-World Legal Experience In Nation’s Capital


Washington is known as the land where laws are made. Thanks to The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) and programs like the Legal Studies Institute (LSI), D.C. is also where lawyers are made. While bills are sitting on Capitol Hill, LSI students are sitting in classrooms, site briefings and internship sites being molded into successful leaders in public policy and law.

This summer, a record 45 students are studying constitutional law as students in the LSI class of 2015. For ten weeks, LSI students take classes taught by the program’s top rated faculty, intern with private law firms, lobbying firms and government agencies and attend lectures and discussions from policy and legal experts in the Washington area. The academic, internship and networking opportunities equate to a rare experience that immensely benefits students interested in policy work.

Molly Nichols (LSI 15) is an intellectual property fellow and student at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California. This summer, she is interning at TechFreedom, a nonprofit think tank dedicated to promoting the progress of technology that improves the human condition.

“I am so lucky to have this internship because it’s exactly what I want to do,” said Nichols. Although some of her internship is dealing with intellectual property, a subject she is familiar with, Nichols said she’s also been challenged by learning new and unfamiliar ideas. “I’ve had to learn a lot of new things. It’s been positive and I’ve learned how to be in a totally new type of law,” she said.

Nichols and her fellow LSI students take a course at Georgetown University Law Center on “Constitutional Interpretation: Originalism in Theory and Practice.” The course is team-taught by professors Randy Barnett, the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at Georgetown University Law Center, and Lawrence Solum, an internationally recognized legal theorist. Together, the professors help LSI students explore originalism, its critics, and the proper role of judges in enforcing the original meaning of the Constitution. Rounding out LSI’s top rated faculty is Professor John Baker, visiting professor at Georgetown Law Center, who teaches the Federalist portion of the class.

Molly Nichols (LSI 15) (left) enjoys the rooftop views with a fellow classmate after a briefing at the Supreme Court with Justice Antonin Scalia.
Molly Nichols (LSI 15) (left) enjoys the rooftop views with a fellow classmate after a briefing at the Supreme Court with Justice Antonin Scalia.

Having never taken a theory course, Nichols found the LSI classroom discussions to be enriching. “I’ve never been taught theory based, so it was really interesting,” she said. “I appreciated getting to hear from professors who are so well known and getting to see law courses at another major university.”

Another highlight of the course for Nichols was getting to visit the Supreme Court to discuss originalism with Justice Antonin Scalia. “One of my favorite parts of the program so far was going to the Supreme Court and listening to Justice Scalia,” said Nichols. “We had a tour followed by a private meeting with him where he answered our questions for over an hour.”

Nichols said she and her fellow classmates appreciated getting to experience a more personal side of the Justice. “We’ve all had to read his opinion from cases in law school and we thought we had an idea about who is, but he’s really funny and down to earth,” she said.

Nichols and her LSI classmates will graduate during a ceremony on July 29, joining an international network of more than 14,500 TFAS alumni.

For more information on the LSI program, visit www.DCInternships.org/LSI.



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