Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Government Investigations & Prosecution

579 | 2.0 credits


This course explores the role and responsibilities of the government lawyer, and examines considerations in pursuing and securing a career in government law. The course will evaluate: (i) the greater role of the state attorney general in prosecuting crimes with national implications; (ii) the overlap between state and federal prosecution; (iii) cooperation between local, state and federal agencies; (iv) the use of civil and criminal powers of the government in achieving policy goals; (v) the politics of prosecution, including the impact of media and constituents; (vi) the role of the prosecutor in the adversarial system; (vii) the autonomy and discretion of the prosecutor; and (viii) the prosecutor’s impact on business practices, the economy and national security. Some specific topics that may be addressed include prosecutorial ethics; evaluating the adequacy of public complaints for investigation and prosecution; directing investigations; making charging decisions; the use of the grand jury vs. preliminary hearings; sentencing considerations; and dealing with informants, cooperators, and victims. The course will also consider the role of government attorneys defending actions against the state. The course will consider these issues in the context of economic crimes.

Students will have the opportunity to apply for an externship with the Attorney General of California's Special Crimes Unit in subsequent semesters. This course is a prerequisite for these highly educational and competitive externships.