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Federal Legislative History

December 4, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Social Law Library, John Adams Courthouse, 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02108
Monday, December 4, 2023,
4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. ET

Karen Breda, Legal Information Librarian and Lecturer of Law, Boston College Law School
Alex G. Philipson, Esq. –Legal Counsel, Massachusetts Superior Court
Brian J. Harkins, Esq. – Senior Reference Attorney, Social Law Library

Online Only

Legislative history is a critically important advocacy tool in Federal Court when statutory language is ambiguous and begs for clarification. Federal judges invite and apply the use of legislative history to avoid incongruous results, illuminate drafting errors, determine specialized meanings, or choose reasonable interpretations of politically controversial statutes. 

In these and other instances, Congress’s intent must be inferred from the statute’s legislative history, which successful advocates must stitch together from a variety of sources including:

  • The text of the bill and proposed amendments that were accepted or rejected
  • Transcripts of hearings conducted by Congressional committees responsible for the bill
  • Committee reports written about the bill
  • Committee prints
  • Compiled legislative history
  • Transcripts of House and Senate floor debates related to the bill

Alex Philipson, who has taught classes in appellate writing at New England Law Boston and Northeastern University Law School, and Senior Reference Attorney Brian Harkins and Law Librarian Karen Breda will show the “how” and “where” to find and interpret these and other sources of legislative history.

This program teaches advocates the research skills necessary to reconstruct a statute’s legislative history for use in pleadings, briefs and oral arguments.


CPCS approved for 2.0 hours of credit from CAFL. To receive credits attendees must be logged on during the program for a minimum of 80% of the conference time. Certificates will be emailed to all attendees who were logged onto the program for at least 80% of the program.

 Register at: FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE HISTORY – December 2023 (socialaw.com)

Online registration is encouraged. For assistance, questions on group discounts, accommodations requests, special billing, program content, out-of-state CLE credits, and general CLE information contact Michael Saporito by email at  msaporito@socialaw.com . Registrations accepted in order of receipt. Registration fees are non-refundable. Most Social Law Library CLE events are recorded. The recording is available by digital download, generally within a week after the program date. People registered for the program will receive the video recording and materials. CLE credit, when applicable, is only granted when the live webinar is attended.

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