Dickinson Law announces new Legislative Advocacy Clinic, director

CARLISLE, Pa. – A new law clinic focused on training students in legislative and public policy advocacy will begin this coming fall at Penn State’s Dickinson Law. Jennifer Davis-Oliva, a veteran attorney with extensive experience in health care law, public policy and policy analysis, has been named founding director of the Legislative Advocacy Clinic.

The clinic will provide students with practical experience to navigate state and local legislative and regulatory processes as part of the law school’s commitment to training practice-ready graduates. Students will hone their advocacy skills as they learn to develop and implement public policy as well as interact with legislators, executive branch agency officials and nonprofit advocacy organizations. 

In addition to her role as clinic director, Davis-Oliva will be a clinical professor overseeing the law students who will work in the clinic. Students will work directly with nonprofit organizations advocating in the state legislature to develop and enact legislation as well as respond to proposed legislation and agency rules.

Davis-Oliva joins Dickinson Law from the University of Colorado (CU) Law School, where she is the spring semester's visiting scholar-in-residence and assistant professor. At CU, she instructed and supervised law students and staff attorneys in the Colorado Health Equity Project (CHEP) Clinic. Prior to teaching at CU, Davis-Oliva was associated with national law firm Arnold & Porter, where she provided regulatory and litigation services to clients in the firm’s FDA and Healthcare practice group. She previously served as litigation of council at Cooley Manion Jones as well as vice president and general counsel of AdvoServ, a regional behavioral health care provider.

After receiving her juris doctor degree with cum laude honors from Georgetown University, Davis-Oliva clerked for two distinguished federal appellate judges. She then served as Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden’s chief of staff and later as Delaware’s deputy state solicitor.

Davis-Oliva is a Rhodes Scholar, Truman Scholar and honors graduate of Oxford University, where she earned a master of business administration degree. She is also a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where she earned a bachelor of science in computer science engineering and international politics.

The distinguished Penn State Dickinson Law faculty has developed an inspired and innovative practice-ready curriculum, which aims to bridge the gap between legal theory and practice by ensuring that Dickinson Law graduates are able to immediately and competently diagnosis and deliver legal services across a broad array of diverse settings,” said Davis-Oliva. “It is an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to serve as the director of the new Legislative Advocacy Clinic and join an esteemed team committed to ensuring the success of Dickinson Law graduates in today’s radically evolved legal marketplace.”

Founded in 1834, The Dickinson School of Law is the oldest law school in Pennsylvania, and the fifth-oldest in the nation. A merger in 2000 with the Penn State provides students with the resources of a world-class research institution. As one of two institutions of The Dickinson Schools of Law at The Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson Law in Carlisle provides students with high quality legal education paired with hands-on, practical training to ensure practice-readiness upon graduation. For more information, visit

Jennifer Davis-Oliva will be the founding director of the Legislative Advocacy Clinic. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated July 22, 2015