Capital lawyering in the heart of California
Ashlee Titus, ’03, was drawn to University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law because of its location. McGeorge has a sterling reputation for attracting aspiring attorneys interested in practicing government law. The school’s proximity to the State Capitol – less than five miles away – is unrivaled, and the program is ranked 3rd in the nation by preLaw Magazine.
“One of the reasons that I chose McGeorge is the proximity to the State Capitol and emphasis on government law,” Titus reflected.
Now, Titus is a partner at Bell McAndrews & Hiltachk LLP, where she joined fellow alumnus Tom Hiltachk, ’87, at one the California’s premier firms specializing in campaign finance and election law.
Titus wears many hats within the firm. She is the general counsel and treasurer for hundreds of different political organizations. Titus represents a range of political organizations across the state — everything from small-town campaigns fighting zoning changes to the California Republican Party. She even represented a former McGeorge professor in her run for a schoolboard position.
Titus is one of several McGeorge alumni who represent California’s major political parties, including Lance Olson, ’77, who served as general counsel to the California Democratic Party for nearly 40 years.
Titus describes her work as having multiple layers. On one level, organizations like the California Republican Party function similarly to a business, with employees, payroll, insurance, human resources, contracts, and leases.
“With any organization, you have the political part that you can see, but then you have the behind the scenes,” Titus explained. “We still have to have a bank account. We have to create a nonprofit entity. We have to have a thing to receive the money into, so then you have to file taxes.”
On a different level, bylaws govern the organization and some have elected leadership positions with turnover every few years. However, Titus remains a constant in the organization with the institutional knowledge to keep things running smoothly.
A large part of Titus’s practice is concentrated on advising clients on complying with campaign finance laws. Unlike a business, every penny raised and spent must be publicly disclosed. In fact, some election disclosures are due within 24 hours.
“I think there's a perception in the world that people spending money in politics are reckless and are trying to hide things. But the ones that hire lawyers really aren’t,” Titus said. “They are trying to do it right, and they're spending a lot of money to do it right.”
Titus also assists clients in navigating regulations related to voter contact. She reviews mailers and commercials looking for host of issues, such as whether the right font and color were used, as well as if imagery poses a copyright or trademark violation.
“It is a niche area of the law, and there is a lot to it. Just like doctors have specialties, there are a thousand different ways to be a lawyer,” Titus said.
Titus has long been passionate about government and politics. While attending McGeorge, she particularly enjoyed her Constitutional Law course with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Professor of Law Leslie Gielow Jacobs. Even in practice now, Titus approaches issues through the lens of Constitutional Law.
“My clients are exercising their First Amendment rights, and so I remind myself that this is free speech,” Titus said.
Since Titus graduated from McGeorge, the law school has expanded the number of opportunities available to students and created new programs such as the Capital Center for Law & Policy and Capital Lawyering Certificate of Concentration as well as its innovative Legislative and Public Policy Clinic. Program offerings such as these enable McGeorge law students to not only study the law but also be a part of shaping public policy
McGeorge also offers a fully online Master of Science in Law (MSL) in Government Law & Policy degree that enables students to enhance their potential for career advancement with specialized knowledge in government law and policy. The MSL program makes McGeorge’s tradition of excellence accessible to working professionals.
For more information about McGeorge School of Law, visit our website.