This course examines the structure of the judicial system and the basic ground rules of civil litigation. Exploring the adversary model and the purposes of litigation, students scrutinize the basic principles underlying the jurisdiction of courts and are encouraged to question the role of courts and to critically assess the adequacy of rules of procedure, to provide a framework for the efficient and fair resolution of disputes. Particular focus is placed on the degree to which justice is dependent on a party's resources. Principles of common law and statutory pleading, discovery, motion practice, remedies, and appeals are taught with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, providing students the framework they are concurrently using in simulation and will subsequently use in live-client representation.
Contracts: Law in a Market Economy I and II
Students will study the development of the law governing agreements between private parties. The backdrop for this study of legal intervention into "private" affairs is an understanding that both our economy as a whole and the economic positions of individuals and groups are shaped and reinforced by the imprimatur and interjection of the law in this area. Students study the historical development of each of the major doctrinal concepts - offer, acceptance, consideration, modification, breach, defenses, and remedies - as well as the related concepts of reliance, restitution, promissory estoppel, and unjust enrichment. Focus on both the common law and statutory law (UCC) governing contracts challenges students to develop strong legal analysis skills and provides a rich context for an introduction to theories of jurisprudence, including natural law, positivist theory, realist theory, laissez-faire economics theory, feminist legal theory, critical race theory, economics and the law, and relational and empirical contract theory.
Law and Family Relations
This course examines the ways in which the law reflects and reinforces fundamental premises about how families are defined, and how they are constituted and dissolved. The course surfaces vexing questions about the effect of the law on private autonomy, the distinction between public and private law, and the interaction between law and race, gender, sexual orientation, and class. It requires students to grapple with difficult, often highly-charged issues emerging from conflicts between personal values and lifestyles and legal and social norms. Students are challenged to reveal and explore their own values to develop an awareness of cultural differences, and to use these insights to develop a professional identity that honors the spirit and the letter of the ethics of the lawyer/client relationship. Using New York law as a touchstone, students learn the law of marriage and divorce, guardianship, custody, and support.
Lawyering Seminars I and II
These courses are held in small groups; the courses continue across both semesters, allowing students to learn lawyering skills (through simulations and role-playing exercises), in conjunction with substantive law learned in the first and second semesters.
This course is designed to provide a framework for the first year of law school. This course addresses the underlying assumptions of law, legal processes, and institutions, and the nature of legal rules and concepts. Among the topics covered are: introduction to common law; the development of legal authority through cases, and the role of precedent; introduction to the role and interpretation of statutes; introduction to the jurisdictional bases and the stages of litigation; analysis of the roles played by the three branches of government (executive, judicial, and legislative); the division of authority between state and federal governments, and, more recently, international obligations; the sources of lawmaking authority; and the development of legal rights.
Legal Research I and II
Students will gain proficiency in the use of basic legal research tools, as well as effective and efficient research methods for devising strategies to find cases, statutes, regulations, and secondary authorities with both hard-copy and computer-assisted legal research tools like LEXIS and Westlaw. Reiterating the integration of lawyering skills and substantive knowledge, the first-year Lawyering Seminars include a major written project that draws upon all the skills learned in the research courses.
Liberty, Equality, and Due Process (LEDP)
This course provides legal and historical perspectives on liberty and equality by examining the law's impact on racial and gender equality and sexual orientation. The historical, social, political, and economic context - particularly the development of the Bill of Rights, slavery, the anti-slavery movement and Reconstruction, the rise and fall of white supremacy, the labor movement, and the emergence of gender equality - provides the backdrop against which students trace the development of the interpretation and application of the standards of equal protection and due process. Studying the moral and political theories that have been used to shape and justify these Constitutional doctrines provides both a framework for understanding and a springboard for critique. This course challenges students to analyze their own experiences through the lens of the law and to understand how the law may have shaped their values and perceptions - or how it might be used to shift society's values and perceptions.
Torts and Criminal Law: Responsibility for Injurious Conduct I and II
These two courses, I and II together analyze society’s focus on individual rights over collective responsibilities and examine adjudication, guilt, punishment, and deterrence. Each course provides a perspective on the central theme of the function and content of the prevailing legal standards for civil and criminal responsibility: malice and intent, causation and fault (including negligence), protected and unprotected interests, the legal duty to act, and several exceptions to accountability when an action causes harm. Each course covers the legal concepts and categories that shape these doctrinal areas. The Torts course explores theories of negligence, intentional torts, and strict liability, including in-depth study of status, causation, assumption of risk, contributory and joint liability, defenses, and remedies. The Criminal Law course covers both the common law and statutory elements of misdemeanors and felonies, while also exploring the legal implications of status, causation, conspiracy and accomplice liability, defenses, and sentencing. In both courses, students identify and assess the political sources and social implications of the ways in which responsibility is defined and allocated, and consider the efficiency and/or justice of varying allocations of risk, cost, and harm.