February 14, 2020 | By Jake Weber
Even among students of public policy, the work of lobbying firms isn’t always recognized. But Latrell Crenshaw, '21, spent the fall 2019 semester understanding their many functions.
"The work of lobbyists helps result in better laws," he says. "You don't want reactionary policies that aren't informed or take into account the potential benefits or shortfalls to all stakeholders. We help make sure that legislators and regulators are aware of each other’s needs and that everyone’s interests are represented.”
Crenshaw's internship, with Michigan Legislative Consultants (MLC), was focused primarily on researching and networking with startup companies and their executives to understand where they might need help dealing with Michigan legislators..
For example, "We have tech companies with products relating to sustainability or hunting and fishing, and they may need to get in front of the Department of Natural Resources, or financial-services companies that have a novel idea about online sports betting that requires engaging with the state gaming commission," Crenshaw explains. "You start by working to understand the client’s needs and then over time develop solutions that result in something amenable to both policy makers and the businesses you work with.”
A natural "people person," Crenshaw found the MLC's work environment a good fit for his strengths. "Lobbying is about facilitating connections between different parties to help them accomplish their end goal," he says. "You do a lot of background research to comprehend their specific issues and use that as your template for addressing your client’s issue.”
It's a sort-of puzzle—figuring out what that looks like—and that's another aspect of the job that Crenshaw especially enjoys, so much so that he is extending his work with the MLC. During the spring semester, Crenshaw is spending two days each week with MLC, working more extensively on legislative issues.
"In some lines of work, there are procedural steps that are very clear-cut; you go through the list and it will solve the problem," he reflects. "With consulting work, you take a problem, determine a starting point and an end goal, and figure out how to build a solution somewhere in the middle. At the end of the day, your client is trusting you to explore all those avenues and get the right result."
Latrell Crenshaw is a junior majoring in political science, with minors in economics and history and concentrations in the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service and the Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management. He is president of the Albion College Investment Club. Crenshaw is the child of Ed Crenshaw of San Diego, Calif., and Deanna Crenshaw of San Diego, Calif., and is a graduate of Patrick Henry High School.