Founded by Professor Julian Levi at Hastings College of the Law in 1983, the Public Law Research Institute (PLRI) analyzes legal issues that currently confront California's state and local governments, at the request of various state and local governmental offices, including the California Senate Office of Research and the Research Bureau of the California State Library. The range of topics varies from year to year, and is as broad as the spectrum of issues state and local governments confront. Past topics have included legislative responses to the AIDS crisis, corporate governance, election reform, welfare reform, economic development, crime control, health care reform, and more.
The Public Law Research Institute seeks to assist in the solution of pressing current problems by identifying, researching and analyzing the relevant legal issues. The Institute does not draft legislation or engage in policy studies, those functions already being admirably served by other state offices. The Institute's function is simply to provide legal research of the highest professional caliber. Each project's scope is determined in close consultation with the request's originator. A typical report may summarize and analyze existing California and federal law relevant to a problem, or survey how other states and jurisdictions have responded to similar problems.
PLRI is part of UC Hastings' Center for State and Local Government Law, which provides clinical opportunities for Hastings and other UC system students to gain experience in Sacramento and supplements existing technical training for legislators and legislative staff through seminars at Hastings and in the Capitol.
PLRI reports are researched and written by Hastings students for academic credit, under the direct supervision of members of the Hastings faculty and with the assistance of Hastings's outstanding library staff. From its inception, the Institute has labored under two basic principles. The first is that law students can -- and, as an indispensable part of their legal education, should -- contribute substantially to the solution of important problems facing state and local governments. The second is that Hastings College of the Law, founded in 1878 by Chief Justice Serranus Clinton Hastings to serve the interests of the people of California, has an important role to play in the search for solutions to problems the people of California currently face.