The classic example is the New Hampshire State House, which is (in)famous for having an large number of members with a fairly high turnover rate, many of whom completely lack political experience and staff.

How do members of this and similar bodies coordinate, or even learn how to do the basics of their jobs? Do new members get assigned mentors , or is there an email listserve for each party or what?

Answers with a focus on American politics is preferred, but I imagine that there would be commonalities across countries and jurisdictions, as long as the body is sufficiently large.

  • 3
    When I saw "extremely large political bodies" in the title, I was expecting the question to be about something like the Senate of the University of Cambridge, which has around a quarter of a million members, not a state legislature of a mere few hundred members. Apr 21, 2021 at 16:54

1 Answer 1


Usually legislative bodies will have some sort of orientation handbook or process for newly elected members. In your example of New Hampshire this is actually written into legislation - Title 1 Chapter 17C of the New Hampshire Revised Statutes establishes a committee on legislator orientation with a responsibility:

  1. To prepare, print and distribute a legislator's manual before the legislator's orientation program scheduled pursuant to paragraph II in the even numbered years which may consider the following: The house rules, the joint house and senate rules, suggested rules for procedure of legislative committees, a map of Concord, floor plans of state house, a department directory, parking, the procedure for filing a bill, the location of committee rooms, an explanation of the telephone system, a roster of members, food and lodging locations, rules on mileage, tax status of mileage, caucuses, election of certain officers, election of attaches, operation of the organizational session, events on the first day of the regular session, salary payments, state library facilities, legislative services, and a brief sketch of parliamentary procedures.
  2. To prepare and run a legislator's orientation program primarily for new legislators which shall be held in Concord between the date of election and the date of the organizational session.

This information is usually public - in New Hampshire's case the orientation manual itself can be found here, with further orientation information available here, including schedules for both houses of the legislature, a list of legislature rules, various ethics policies, as well as more mundane information such as parking locations.

Most state legislatures implement something similar; the National Conference of State Legislatures has conducted a survey on this topic, finding that "nearly every legislative body gives this task pre-session priority and conducts an orientation conference of some dimension".

Outside of the US, to give one example, the UK House of Commons produces a fairly comprehensive Members' Handbook which covers everything from instructions on how to table questions, to the rules around speaking in debates, to the location of smoking areas. This is supplemented by the New Members' Guidebook which provides more concise information for the newly elected Member of Parliament.

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