Section Description Provided by Instructor
This course is the first course of the required JD Foundation Curriculum, and is closed to LL.M. candidates.
In general, Legal Methods provides an introduction both to the processes and the skills necessary to the professional use of case law and legislation, and to the development of American legal institutions. The course starts with materials from the first decades of American history. This was a time marked by relatively simple common law litigation, statutes and institutions, in a country having to fashion its law for itself, largely through its courts. As America industrialized, the styles of judging changed, statutes and their interpretation became more and more important, and administrative agencies emerged. For the most part, our materials explore the developing law on the related questions of product liability and workplace injury. Both these questions arise in the borderland between Contract and Tort, but the law of product liability developed almost wholly through common law decisions, while the law respecting workplace injury was significantly shaped by statute. In proceeding from the early 19th Century to the greater complexities of the current day, we explore the sources, forms, and development of law, the analysis and synthesis of judicial precedents, the interpretation of statutes, the coordination of judge-made and statute law, and the uses of legal reasoning. Because today's lawyer must often deal with transactions governed by the civil law (the dominant legal system in much of the rest of the world), we give some attention to its development as well. The course ends with statutory cases from a recent Supreme Court, and your ability to read and analyze them will in itself signal your achievements in our short time together.
By the time the course ends, you will have acquired skills essential to your work in other law school classes, an appreciation for the changing styles of legal analysis that American jurists have brought to their work over time, and an awareness of current disputes about the modern role of judges, particularly in relation to the work of legislatures. There is a proctored pass/fail examination, given in early fall; you will receive feedback on it. The questions asked and the feedback given are meant to give you an instructive law school examination experience, and an early indication of your progress.
Teaching assistants meet you weekly in small sections, to help you deal with the inevitable "culture shock" of a new discipline, one might even say a new language.
Course materials are Strauss, Legal Methods: Understanding and Using Cases and Statutes (2d Ed. 2008); and Gilmore, The Ages of American Law.
MTWRF 10:00a - 11:50a
MTWRF 2:00p - 3:10p
Method of Evaluation
J.D. Writing Credit
Entering 1L's only
Learning Outcome Goals
No learning outcome goals have been provided.