New Spring Courses Add to Dynamic and Diverse Curriculum

Columbia Law School Students Will Explore Complex and Pressing Issues in International Litigation, Human Rights, Criminal Justice, and the Legal Profession

New York, January 14, 2016—New courses offered this spring reveal the richness, rigor, and relevance of Columbia Law School’s curriculum. Students will examine such important topics as the fundamentals of transnational litigation; current challenges to the idea of universal human rights; mechanisms to regulate the police; and the changing business of big law firms.

The 20 new classes enrich an already dynamic and diverse curriculum, preparing students to become the global lawyers of the future. Here is a preview of some of the new courses:

This course examines all major aspects of the conduct of international cases in national courts, with an emphasis on the conduct of transnational litigation in the courts of the United States and the European Union.
Instructor: George A. Bermann '75 LL.M., , Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law, Walter Gellhorn Professor of Law, and director of the Center for International Commercial and Investment Arbitration.
The international refugee crisis is examined from a legal and policy perspective. Particular attention will be paid to the definition of “refugee” under international and U.S. law; the asylum process in the U.S.; gender-based asylum claims; and current policy issues relating to the deterrence and detention of asylum-seekers, the protection of children, and reform of the U.S. asylum system. Other forms of legal protection for forced migrants will also be considered. The course adopts a comparative perspective, exploring legal norms from other national and international courts.
Instructor: Visiting Professor of Law Thomas Aleinikoff, former dean of the Georgetown University Law Center and deputy commissioner in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
This seminar explores various mechanisms by which law enforcement actors are regulated. Frameworks for police oversight are assessed, including criminal procedure rules as regulatory devices, civil litigation, criminal prosecution, internal investigations, and civilian boards. Some class meetings will feature opportunities to meet and question guest speakers with direct experience in a variety of aspects of criminal justice oversight.
Instructor: Jennifer Laurin ’03, the Nathaniel Fensterstock Visiting Professor of Law and a co-author of Police Misconduct: Law and Litigation, the leading treatise in that area of civil rights litigation.
After formulating goals and strategies in the political and cultural domains, many social movements turn to law to advance their collective aims. This has prompted an increasing legalization of contemporary politics that redefines the terms, means, and aspirational horizon of social and political movements and causes. This course will examine a fundamental question: What does it mean to translate or reformulate political claims into the language of law and rights?
Instructors: Katherine Franke, the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and the director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, and Associate Research Scholar Emilio Dabed.
The use of torture to extract confessions and obtain information has formed an integral part of legal and political practice throughout history. At times, these practices have been strictly regulated according to legal manuals detailing the precise forms of torture that could be applied to a suspect; at others they have been strictly prohibited by human rights conventions and used nonetheless. This seminar will explore how efforts, over the centuries, to tame these perverse practices—through manuals, prohibitions, instructions, directions, exhibitions, legal opinions, justifications, and denunciations—have shaped the broader society.
Instructors: Bernard E. Harcourt, the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and director of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, and Professor Jesús R. Velasco, chair of the Columbia University Department of Latin American and Iberian Culture.
An overview will be provided of the complex laws and policies governing food and beverages in the United States. Topics include the origins and sources of modern food law and policy; the intricate federal labeling laws; the role and spheres of responsibility for various federal and state agencies; consumer litigation and its implications; advertising and competition between market actors; the treatment of emerging technologies and trends in food and beverage regulation; manufacturing issues, product recalls, and criminal and civil liability for foodborne illness; distribution issues; the legislation of social and health issues related to food manufacturing and consumption; and food law and policy problems on the horizon.
The class will examine themes of blame and responsibility, as well as the broader societal debate over whether individuals, corporations, or government entities bear responsibility for healthy food preferences, a safe and sustainable food supply, alcohol and calorie intake, competition issues, and distribution structures in regulated industries. The class will consider how food policy in the United States is fragmented and often contradictory.
Instructors: Lecturers in Law Seth Weinberg and Hannah Chanoine.
During the second half of the 20th century, the idea of universal human rights emerged as a powerful source of legal and political discourse and governance, both within and across states. At the beginning of the 21st century, however, consensus regarding the meaning, interpretation, and application of contemporary human rights norms continues to elude us. Once taken-for-granted notions bequeathed to us by the liberal humanist tradition—of a sovereign, rational human subject; of a shared human condition; of inalienable global human rights—are now radically contested, on conceptual as well as practical grounds. This seminar will explore the classical and contemporary critical writing that has questioned the theoretical foundations of the human rights idea.
Instructors:  Kendall Thomas, the Nash Professor of Law and the director of the Center for the Study of Law and Culture, and Adjunct Associate Professor Thomas Keenan.
Demand for commercial legal services continues to increase, but suppliers of legal services and their respective shares of the market have changed. While many large firms continue to prosper, others are challenged. This seminar will help students understand how and why the market is changing and the options available to law firms to navigate the change. Students will gain an understanding of what is expected of lawyers at different kinds of large law firms and how to evaluate their own career options.
Instructor: David Barnard, a founding partner of Blaqwell, Inc., a consultancy for major law firms in the United States, Canada, and Europe.