Courts, Jurisdiction, and Procedure Courses

Senior Lecturer Hon. Diane Wood

The courses listed below provide a taste of the Courts, Jurisdiction, and Procedure Law courses offered at the Law School, although no formal groupings exist in our curriculum. This list includes the courses taught in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years. Not all of these courses are offered every year, but this list will give you a representative sample of the variety of courses we might offer over any two-year period. Other new courses will likely be offered during your time at the Law School.

PLEASE NOTE: This page does not include courses for the current academic year. To browse current course offerings, visit my.UChicago.

Administrative Law

Winter 2020, David A. Strauss

This course will study the law governing the administrative state - the executive departments of the federal government. Among other things, we will consider the constitutional foundations of the administrative state; the statutes, especially the Administrative Procedure Act, that govern administrative agencies; presidential control of administrative agencies; the role of agencies in interpreting statutes and regulations; and judicial review of agency action. A central theme is the tension between values associated with the rule of law (such as procedural regularity, transparency, democratic accountability, and reasoned decisionmaking) and the demands of effective executive action. Students' grades are based on a final take-home examination.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Nicholas Stephanopoulos
  • Winter 2018, Jennifer Nou
  • Spring 2019, Jennifer Nou

Admiralty Law

Autumn 2019, Randall Schmidt

This course will cover the development and scope of this part of the jurisdiction of the federal courts, the role of the Supreme Court in the common law development of the substantive law of the admiralty, and several of the main elements of substantive maritime law: maritime torts, industrial accidents, collisions, salvage, and limitation of liability. The student's grade is based on class participation and a final take-home examination.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Randall Schmidt
  • Autumn 2018, Randall Schmidt

Advanced Civil Procedure

Autumn 2018, William H. J. Hubbard

This course examines salient features of major civil litigation from both a practitioner's and a policymaker's perspective. Broadly, these features fall into two categories: issues with forum and aggregation on the one hand, and problems with the collection and production of evidence on the other. Topics in the first category include class actions, multi-district litigation, and arbitration. Topics in the second category include electronic discovery, expert witnesses, and preservation of evidence. In addition, this course studies how the federal rulemaking process, statutes, and judicial decisions compete to define the procedures that govern civil litigation. The student's grade is based on a final examination with limited consideration of class participation.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, William H. J. Hubbard

American Indian Law

Autumn 2019, M. Todd Henderson

This course will consider two distinct bodies of law regarding the 565 federally recognized Indian tribes in the United States. First, we will study the law governing the relation between non-tribal law and tribal law. This is the law of treaties, federal jurisdiction, and sovereignty. The Supreme Court has several cases on tribal issues each year, and with the rise of gaming and natural resources as major sources of wealth, the stakes in these cases for tribe members and non-members is increasing. The materials for the course will be mostly Supreme Court cases, as well as some historical materials necessary to understand the context of the judicial consideration of tribal jurisdiction. The flavor for this part of the course will be international law, although with a decidedly American approach. Second, we will study the law within several prominent tribal areas. The Hopi, for instance, have a court system that is roughly parallel to the American one, but with key differences for handling crimes, contracts, torts, and so on. The flavor for this part of the course will be comparative law, since we will compare how different legal rules develop in distinct but related legal systems. This course is mandatory for students interested in participating in the Hopi Law Practicum (serving as clerks to justices of the Hopi Appellate Court on live cases), but it is open to all students with an interest in tribes, federal jurisdiction, sovereignty, or comparative law.

American Legal History, 1607-1870

Spring 2020, Alison LaCroix

This course examines major themes and interpretations in the history of American law and legal institutions from the earliest English settlements through the Civil War. Topics include continuity and change between English and American law in the colonial period; the American Revolution; changing understandings of the U.S. Constitution; the legal status of women and African Americans; federalism; commerce; slavery; and the Civil War and Reconstruction. The student's grade will be based on a take-home final examination.

Arbitration

Spring 2020, Sarath Sanga

This is an advanced seminar on arbitration in the United States. We will survey issues raised by federal and state courts' interpretation of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). Each week will explore a distinct theme, such as federalism, public policy, or consumer contracting. We will explore questions such as: Should the FAA apply equally in state as in federal court? Are state laws prohibiting arbitration of sexual harassment claims preempted? When can a court refuse to enforce an arbitration agreement? The course will also introduce economic theories to analyze these questions. Students will be evaluated according to their participation in class and brief reaction papers that respond to each week's readings (2 credits). Students who want to earn 3 credits must also submit a substantial paper in addition to the weekly reaction papers as part of their evaluation. In the last two sessions, students will present and discuss their final papers.

Brief-writing and Appellate Advocacy Seminar

Autumn 2019, Michele Odorizzi

This seminar will be devoted to the art of brief-writing and appellate advocacy. Topics will include how to select the best arguments, how to choose a theme and structure the facts and the argument, and how to write the brief in a way that it is clear, concise and persuasive on the first read. Grades will be based on two papers -- an opening brief and a reply.

Previously:

  • Winter 2018, Michele Odorizzi
  • Winter 2019, Michele Odorizzi

Civil Gideon and Access to Justice

Spring 2020, Atinuke Adediran

This seminar explores access to justice and right to counsel debates in the criminal and civil contexts, starting with the landmark Supreme Court case, Gideon v. Wainwright. Topics include, the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, whether Gideon's promise is being fulfilled in criminal cases, the costs and benefits of having a civil Gideon regime, funding for civil legal services organizations, empirical research on the impact of lawyers on case outcomes and client experiences, pro bono legal services, and the role of race and class in access to justice. Readings will include cases, law review and social science articles. Final grades will be based on a series of short response papers and class participation.

Civil Rights Litigation in the Child Welfare Context

Winter 2020, Diane Redleaf

Landmark constitutional cases hold that the familial association rights are fundamental, but enforcing that principle through litigation has been challenging for advocates for children and families. In this seminar taught by a civil rights lawyer for families involved in dozens of civil rights cases on behalf of children and families for over 30 years, we will examine cases that have tested the constitutional rights of parents and children in the context of child protective systems intervention that restricts associational, personal integrity and privacy rights,  including:   family separation/children's removal from homes and hospitals, so-called voluntary removals,  investigation tactics including gynecological searches and photographing of nude children, race/national origin discrimination and Native American rights,  disability rights, sexual orientation and gender identity in the context of foster care;  poverty/homelessness; and  the interface between domestic violence and child protection. The course will also consider common obstacles to successful system reform challenges in civil rights litigation, including qualified and absolute immunity, standing, abstention/Rooker Feldman, and mootness. 

Students taking the class for 2 credits are expected to write two case comment papers of 4-8 pages, participate in as plaintiff, defendant, or judge in one mock oral argument of a total of 15 minutes length, and participate in a 10-15 minute group presentation about a major systemic reform case involving the child welfare system.  In addition to these requirements, students who take the class for 3 credits are expected to also submit a paper of at least 10 pages that expands upon a case comment or addresses one of the topics discussed in class in more depth.  

Participation may be considered in final grading.

Class Action Controversies

Autumn 2019, Michael T. Brody

The purpose of this seminar is to discuss and understand the rules applicable to class action litigation, the major doctrinal and policy issues that influence class action litigation, and the strategic, ethical, and practical considerations class counsel and litigants face in class action litigation. We will address class certification, notice, settlements, attorneys fees, collateral attack of class judgments, and due process considerations in class cases. There is no case book. Instead, each week I will assign cases and other materials for you to read and for us to discuss. Students may submit a major paper for three credits or a series of reaction papers for two credits. Class participation may influence the grade -- i will not reduce a grade for lack of class participation but in an unusual case I may increase a grade where I believe the student's class participation reflects greater understanding than may be indicated by the student's written submissions.

Comparative Legal Institutions

Spring 2019, Thomas Ginsburg

This course is designed to examine a range of legal institutions from a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective. It is not a traditional course in comparative law, in that it focuses not so much on particular rules of substantive law but on the structure of different legal systems and the consequences of those structural differences for law and society. In particular, we will focus on the economic impact of legal traditions. Readings will be drawn from legal and social science literature, including works from anthropology, economics, political science and sociology. The course will explicitly cover non-Western legal traditions to an extent not found in conventional comparative law courses. Furthermore, American institutions are explicitly included in the comparison: this is not simply a course in foreign law. Assessment is by a three-hour take-home exam. There is an option to write a research paper sufficient to fulfill the substantial writing requirement; LLM, second-year and third-year students can exercise this option freely but only a limited number of first-year students may avail themselves of it.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Thomas Ginsburg

Conflict of Laws

Winter 2019, William Baude

States frequently have different laws, and so it is frequently important which state's law applies to a given case or transaction. This course will confront the choice and enforcement of law in these conflicts. We will cover the competing theories of choice of law, constitutional limits on state authority, and full faith and credit. Application to international law and internet transactions may also be covered.

Criminal Procedure I: The Investigative Process

Winter 2020, Sharon Renee Fairley

The course focuses on the constitutional law regulating searches, seizures, and confessions. It considers both physical searches and seizures and also searches and seizures of electronic data. Grades are based on a final in-class examination.

Previously:

  • Winter 2018, John Rappaport
  • Spring 2018, Aziz Huq
  • Winter 2019, Richard McAdams
  • Spring 2019, John Rappaport

Criminal Procedure II: From Bail to Jail

Spring 2020, Alison Siegler

Criminal Procedure II surveys the procedural and constitutional rules that govern the court process in a criminal case. We study the criminal process after a case comes into court. Topics may include: pretrial detention, the preliminary hearing, the grand jury, venue, the charging instrument, joinder/severance, discovery, trial, confrontation rights, plea bargaining, and sentencing. We also examine prosecutorial discretion, as well as legal and ethical issues surrounding the representation of criminal defendants. Guest speakers typically include two U.S. District Court judges, a federal magistrate judge, and a current or former Assistant U.S. Attorney. (IMPORTANT: Criminal Procedure I is not a prerequisite, and no knowledge of Criminal Procedure I is needed for this course. Criminal Procedure I examines the rules that govern police investigations, while this course covers the next chronological stage-the court process.) This class has a final take-home exam. Participation may be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Alison Siegler
  • Spring 2019, Alison Siegler

Current Issues in Criminal and National Security Law

Winter 2020, Patrick Fitzgerald and Michael Scudder

This seminar covers a series of current issues in criminal and national security law, often comparing and contrasting the two approaches, with a particular focus on challenges arising from acts of terrorism and other national security prosecutions (including a focus on substantive terrorism offenses, espionage offenses as well as the leaking of classified information), a discussion of criminal and intelligence investigative tools (comparing Title III electronic surveillance with Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ), application of constitutional principles to terrorism investigations and prosecutions (particularly the First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments and the application of Miranda, Quarles and Corley decisions and certain state bar rules in that context), the President's war powers and congressional oversight (including discussions of drone strikes, law of war detention, and Presidential and Congressional authority to use military force), and in other select areas, including the Classified Information Procedures Act, and economic sanctions, and national security leaks. Each class will focus on a different topic, with advance reading assigned around each topic, and grading on the basis of two short reflection papers (3-5 pages each) and a final paper preferably written in the form of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion (20-25 pages, including a majority and dissent) on a select issue in criminal and national security law. Guest speakers will help facilitate discussion on certain -requisites: Criminal Law

Previously:

  • Winter 2018, Patrick Fitzgerald and Michael Scudder
  • Winter 2019, Patrick Fitzgerald and Michael Scudder

Evidence

Spring 2020, Emily Buss

This course examines the law governing proof of disputed propositions of fact in criminal and civil trials, including relevance, character evidence, the hearsay "rule" and other rules of exclusion, and examination and privileges of witnesses. The grade is based on a 3 hour final take-home examination.

Previously:

  • Winter 2018, Brian Leiter
  • Spring 2018, Brian Leiter
  • Winter 2019, John Rappaport
  • Spring 2019, Emily Buss
  • Winter 2020, Brian Leiter

Federal Courts

Spring 2020, William Baude

This course covers the role of the federal courts in the federal system. Topics will include the jurisdiction of the federal courts, Congress's power over those courts, litigation against federal and state governments and their officials, and the relationships between federal and state courts. Constitutional Law I is a prerequisite, though it may be waived in special circumstances. The student's grade is based on class participation and a final take-home examination.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Adam Mortara
  • Spring 2018, Aziz Huq
  • Autumn 2018, Fred O. Smith Jr.
  • Winter 2019, Aziz Huq
  • Spring 2019, William Baude

The Federal Courts and the Federal System

Winter 2020, David A. Strauss

This course will consider the role of the federal courts in the U.S. federal system. We will cover, among other things, Congressional control of the jurisdiction of the federal courts; the federal question jurisdiction of the federal courts; issues arising out of the relationship between state and federal courts; and the sources of, and limits on, actions against state and federal governments and their officials. Constitutional Law I is a co-requisite (that is, students must have taken Constitutional Law I or be taking it at the same time as this course). Grades will be based on a take-home final exam.

Federal Habeas Corpus

Winter 2020, Adam Mortara

We will cover the history of the Great Writ and the evolution of the scope of federal habeas corpus review and relief; the Suspension Clause; habeas review in capital cases including stays of execution; alternatives to habeas review; state post-conviction proceedings; and jurisdictional issues in both the trial and appellate courts. There will be an emphasis on habeas review under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which will be particularly helpful for students taking federal judicial clerkships. Students' grades are based on in-class participation, an exam, and optional papers (10-12 pages, if the 3 credit option is chosen).

Previously:

  • Winter 2019, Adam Mortara

Greenberg Seminar: The Trial in Film and Literature

Spring 2020, Emily Buss and Judith P. Miller

In this seminar, we will discuss portrayals of courtroom proceedings in literature and film/TV, beyond My Cousin Vinnie, To Kill a Mockingbird, or Law and Order.  What do they tell us about the effectiveness and justice of our system?  About how non-lawyers view litigation and lawyers?  How do these accounts affect how we think about our profession and our roles in it?  About our society?  We will give seminar participants a chance to weigh in on the materials we read and view, but some possibilities include: (film/TV) Anatomy of a Murder, Runaway Jury, The Escape Artist, In Contempt; (literature) Franz Kafka, The Trial; Scott Turow, Presumed Innocent; John Grisham, A Time to Kill.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2019, Emily Buss and Judith P. Miller
  • Winter 2020, Emily Buss and Judith P. Miller

Hopi/Alaska Law Practicum

Spring 2020, M. Todd Henderson

The Hopi Clerkship is a year-long opportunity for students to get first-hand experience with the complex challenges and unique opportunities present in the everyday work of contemporary tribal legal systems. Students will support the Hopi tribe in three distinct ways: (1) serving as law clerks to justices of the Hopi Appellate Court, doing legal research, writing bench memoranda, participating in the judges’ conferences, and drafting opinions on live cases; (2) serving as law clerks to the criminal trial court judge, especially on matters related to the application of federal Fourth Amendment law to tribal police; and (3) serving as legal advisors to the Office of Cultural Preservation, working to support investigations and prosecution of Hopi cultural claims around the world in an attempt to return tribal patrimony. Students will do all their coursework and assigned casework at the University of Chicago with site visits to the respective Hopi legal institutions to attend oral arguments, present findings to Hopi tribal officials, and participate in judicial deliberations. Co-requisite: American Indian Law

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, M. Todd Henderson and Justin B. Richland
  • Winter 2018, M. Todd Henderson and Justin B. Richland
  • Spring 2018, M. Todd Henderson and Justin B. Richland
  • Autumn 2019, M. Todd Henderson
  • Winter 2020, M. Todd Henderson

Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations

Spring 2020, Ben Laurence, Kévin Orly Irakóze, and Andrea Elizabeth Ray

Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (A) (I)

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Ben Laurence, Joshua Fox, Claudia Hogg-Blake, and Agatha Slupek
  • Spring 2019, Ben Laurence

Immigration Law

Spring 2020, Adam S. Chilton

This course explores the U.S. immigration system. The course will focus on the federal laws and policies that regulate the admission and exclusion of immigrants. Topics covered will include: the visa system, deportation and removal, the law of asylum, the role of the states in regulating migrants, and proposed reforms to the immigration system. The course will also consider how immigration law connects to both constitutional law and foreign policy.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Adam Chilton
  • Autumn 2018, Allison Brownell Tirres

International Law of Sovereign Debt Crises

Winter 2019, James Foorman

This seminar will cover the international law that applies to sovereign debt crises, i.e., crises that occur when nation states default on their bonds or loan obligations. We will begin by discussing the elements of sovereign debt finance, the key contractual provisions of debt agreements, legal doctrines bearing on sovereign debt (such as sovereign immunity, odious debts and state succession), and the process for rescheduling or otherwise resolving impaired debt. Such recent cases as Argentina, Greece and Ukraine will provide concrete and practical context for our discussions. We also will consider the roles of various international bodies, such as the IMF and the European Central Bank, and proposed international regimes for resolving defaulted debt. We will use Lastra and Buchheit, "Sovereign Debt Management", Oxford University Press 2014 and other materials to be provided by the Lecturer. There are no prerequisites for the course. The grade will be based on a paper of approximately 25 pages, as well as on class participation.

Is Our Constitution Undemocratic?

Winter 2020, William Baude and Genevieve Lakier

It is often said that the U.S. Constitution is the oldest democratic constitution in the world. But how democratic is it? This seminar will explore that question both historically and by examining, in some detail, the constitutional design. Topics to be discussed include: the Framing and the legacy of slavery; constitutional war powers and U.S. imperialism; presidential power; Article III and the powers of judicial review; the Senate; the Electoral College and the constitutional organization of voting more broadly; Article V and the difficulties of amending the Constitution.  Grades will be based on some combination of class participation, reaction papers and/or a short final research paper.

Judicial Federalism

Winter 2020, Diane P. Wood

In this seminar, we will explore the various doctrines that police the line between the role of the U.S. federal courts and the often-parallel role of the state courts (or occasionally tribal courts). Those doctrines include the limits on the subject-matter jurisdiction of the federal courts found in Article III; the Rooker-Feldman doctrine; constitutional or common-law limitations on federal authority such as those for domestic-relations and probate cases; the various abstention doctrines (Pullman, Burford, Younger, Colorado River); the Anti-Injunction Acts; notions of lis pendens that apply in both federal and state courts; "complete" versus defense preemption, and habeas corpus review of state-court criminal judgments in federal courts. We will also compare the U.S. system to that of the European Union. There are no prerequisites. Students will write a paper of 20-25 pages (which can qualify for the substantial writing requirement) for credit in the seminar.

Previously:

  • Winter 2018, Diane P. Wood
  • Winter 2019, Diane P. Wood

Judicial Opinions and Judicial Opinion Writing

Winter 2020, Robert Hochman and Gary Feinerman

Judicial opinions are the means by which judges explain their rulings to the litigants and their lawyers, and in many instances (depending largely, but not exclusively, on whether the judge is writing on behalf of a court of review) to the bar as a whole, other judges, other branches of government, and/or the public at large.  For those of you planning to serve as a law clerk after graduation, opinion drafting and editing likely will comprise the lion's share of your work.  For those of you planning on a career as a litigator, understanding the elements of judicial opinion writing will help you to effectively frame your arguments in your briefs and at oral argument.  And for all of you, reinforcing the skills necessary to write clearly and edit wisely will serve you well whatever your future plans.

This class will be co-taught by Judge Gary Feinerman of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
The class requires a series of reaction papers. Participation may be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Winter 2018, Richard A. Posner and Robert Hochman
  • Winter 2019, Robert Hochman and Gary Feinerman

Law and Politics: U.S. Courts as Political Institutions

Autumn 2019, Gerald Rosenberg

The seminar aims to introduce students to the political science literature on courts understood as political institutions. In examining foundational parts of this literature, the seminar will focus on the relationship between the courts and other political institutions. The sorts of questions to be asked include: Are there interests that courts are particularly prone to support? What factors influence judicial decision-making? What effect does congressional or executive action have on court decisions? What impact do court decisions have? While the answers will not always be clear, students should complete the seminar with an awareness of and sensitivity to the political nature of the American legal system. In addition, by critically assessing approaches to the study of the courts, the seminar seeks to highlight intelligent and sound approaches to the study of political institutions. Particular concern will focus on what assumptions students of courts have made, how evidence has been integrated into their studies, and what a good research design looks like.

Please watch the 17 minute video in which Professor Rosenberg explains the aims of the seminar, the topics covered, and the requirements. You can find the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2SNLd_wUEQ

Previously:

  • Winter 2018, Gerald Rosenberg
  • Winter 2019, Gerald Rosenberg

The Law, Politics, and Policy of Policing

Autumn 2019, Sharon Renee Fairley

In the wake of several highly publicized incidents of police brutality, the American public is engaged in substantive debate over modern policing strategies and tactics and how best to achieve public safety while respecting the rights and dignity of all citizens.  This course will provide an overview of the public safety challenges facing large, urban police organizations.  With the legal framework as a foundation, students will discuss the policy and political considerations relevant to key policing strategies.  Starting with readings that provide the historical perspective on policing, each week will focus on a distinct policing strategy or policy challenge, including topics such as crisis intervention, national security, and gun violence.  Some classes may include invited guest speakers. Students may qualify to earn three credits by taking the exam and writing a 10-12 page paper, or by writing a major 20-25 page paper only (which may also count for SRP credit if approved). Students who take the exam but do not write papers will earn 2 credits.

Legal Profession

Spring 2020, Barry Alberts

This course, which satisfies the professional responsibility requirement, will consider the law and the ethics governing lawyers. Among the topics that will be examined are the nature of the lawyer-client relationship, competency, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, and some fundamental questions about who we are and what we stand for as lawyers. A student's grade is based on a final examination. This class will be capped at 50.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Barry Alberts
  • Spring 2019, Barry Alberts

Legal Profession: Ethics in Government and Public Interest Legal Practice

Winter 2020, Hal Randy Morris

This seminar addresses ethical considerations and issues encountered during the practice of law, including strategic, practical, and moral considerations with which attorneys should be familiar. Using materials from casebooks, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, cases or articles of particular interest and videos, we will discuss within the context of the Model Rules the ethical situations that lawyers face. There will be a particular focus on the ambiguities of how to handle particularly difficult issues encountered in the practice of law and the rules and framework to which attorneys can turn in determining how to handle those situations. Throughout the seminar, we will consider certain overarching questions, including: a. are lawyers authorized by their duties to clients to lie, b. is civility consistent with the duty of vigorous representation, c. are aspects of the practice of law beyond the rules, and d. can there be a conflict without direct adversity. This seminar will be taught as a participatory class and will use structured hypotheticals, role playing, class discussions, and class competitions. A short quarter ending presentation is required. Students will be evaluated both on the quality and extent of their participation and the presentation and on the basis of a paper of 20-25 pages in length on a topic relating to professional responsibility chosen by and of particular interest to the student. Attendance is mandatory. Participation may be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Lynda Peters
  • Spring 2019, Lynda Peters

Life (and Death) in the Law

Spring 2020, Herschella Juanita Glenn Conyers

This seminar will explore the various definitions and valuations of life across diverse areas of the law. Readings will include seminal cases in reproductive rights, assisted suicide, right-to-die, and capital punishment. Background readings in related areas, i.e., scientific journals, papers, etc. will also be required. The seminar will discuss policy decision-making including actuarial analysis and social, medical and religious values inherent, implicit or ignored in the legal analysis. Students will be required to write two response papers, co-draft a statute in one area of law, and participate in jury deliberations. Grade will also be based on class participation.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Herschella Juanita Glenn Conyers
  • Spring 2019, Herschella Juanita Glenn Conyers

Litigation Laboratory

Winter 2020, Catherine M. Masters and James A. Clark

(BID, EXP, LEC, SEM, SIM)

This seminar brings lawyers and students together to analyze and develop aspects of the lawyers' ongoing cases. It allows good lawyers to use law students for collaborative help with open cases, and allows law students to learn litigation skills by working with the lawyers. A different lawyer with a different case will participate in most class sessions. Typically the lawyer will provide materials for the students to review before the class. During the class, students will discuss, argue, debate, and work with the lawyer to solve hard issues. Following each class, students will complete written materials analyzing and evaluating the problem. In classes when lawyers are not included, students also learn practical litigation skills through various advocacy exercises. Students will be graded based on active participation and their written materials. Participation may be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Winter 2018, Catherine M. Masters and James A. Clark
  • Winter 2019, Catherine M. Masters and James A. Clark

Local Government Law

Spring 2020, Julie Roin

This course examines the law regarding the provision of public goods and services at the state and local level. It explores the way in which local government law addresses the issues of what services a local government should provide, which residents should receive those services, who pays for the services provided, and how these decisions are reached. In the process, it explores the relationship among federal, state, and local governments, with particular emphasis on judicial analysis of the constitutional and statutory basis of those relationships.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Julie Roin

Military Law

Spring 2020, Adam Benjamin Spencer

This course is designed principally to provide a broad overview of the legal issues that confront the U.S. military and its servicemembers. The course will touch on military justice, administrative law, operational law, servicemembers' rights, and fiscal law (time permitting). This course is useful for anyone interested in serving as a lawyer in the military, working in the military law area as a civilian attorney, or working in the military or national security area in a policy-oriented position. It is also useful for any future public policymaker or official to have a basic understanding of the legal framework for the activities of our military here and abroad.

Patent Litigation

Spring 2020, Steven Cherny and Jason Wilcox

This course is a hands-on introduction to patent litigation. Using a hypothetical case, students will explore the practical application of key patent law and litigation concepts. Students will follow the litigation over the course of the term as counsel for plaintiff or defendant. Students will be asked to produce written work (e.g., pleadings, motion papers, deposition outlines, etc.) and to orally argue motions. Potential topics include motions to dismiss or transfer, discovery disputes, claim construction, expert discovery, summary judgment, and appeals. In addition to oral argument, class will discuss practical and legal topics pertaining to patent litigation, typically to assist in preparation of the next week's assignment. Participation may be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Steven Cherny and Jason Wilcox
  • Spring 2019, Steven Cherny and Jason Wilcox

Precedent

Spring 2019, William Baude

In this seminar we will consider several different aspects of the doctrine of precedent. Do lower courts have to obey the precedents of higher courts? If so, why, and when? Does the Constitution permit the Supreme Court to follow precedent, even when that precedent misinterprets the Constitution? If so, why? And under what circumstances can or should precedents be overturned? Is it possible to have a principled doctrine of precedent? We will consider both examples from case law and arguments from text, structure, and history.A previous constitutional law class is recommended, but not required. A major paper of 20-25 pages is required. Class participation may also be considered in final grading.

Pretrial Litigation: Strategy and Advocacy

Winter 2020, Barry Fields

This seminar will focus on litigation skills and strategies that are instrumental in the day-to-day life of any litigator. Indeed, a lawyer will use many of the same strategies and skills in both the pretrial and trial phases of litigation. Students will learn how to evaluate and develop fact and legal theories; develop themes; take and defend depositions; draft pretrial motions; and use various tactics to prepare a case for trial. The seminar will use a variety of learning methodologies, including lectures and participation in mock exercises. The revised class format for 2019-20 will include more mock exercises for students. The student's grade will based on class participation, including participation in mock exercises, and written work product.

Previously:

  • Winter 2019, Barry Fields

Prosecution and Defense Clinic

Spring 2020, Lisa M. Noller and Molly Armour

The Prosecution and Defense Clinic is designed to provide students with an opportunity to learn about the criminal justice system through: (1) a 2-quarter seminar taught by a former Assistant United States Attorney and a career criminal defense attorney; and, (2) a clinical placement in either a prosecutor's office or public defender's office.  The goal of the course is to familiarize students with the legal procedures and issues which arise in a typical criminal case as well as ethical and other social justice issues (such as race and poverty) routinely considered by all criminal justice attorneys and courts.  The clinic will provide students with a unique combination of substantive criminal law and procedure, ethics, trial practice (through participation in courtroom exercises built around federal criminal cases), and hands-on experience through a clinical placement.  

Each student in the clinic is responsible for securing a field placement and participating in a pre-screened placement program with a federal or state prosecutor or defender office for the winter and spring quarters (January through May).  Field placements will be formally supervised by coordinators within each program's office, and the faculty instructors will monitor the student's substantive work and performance in conjunction with the field placements.  Students must comply with the placement's requirements regarding hours and assignments, which will be considered part of the course grade.  In the placements, students may be expected to research substantive criminal law issues, draft affirmative and responsive pleadings and memos, interview witnesses and clients, assist lawyers with court hearings and where permitted (and with an appropriate 711 license), appear in court under the supervision of practicing attorneys.  

Students receive up to 7 credits for the course.

Previously:

  • Winter 2018, Lisa M. Noller and Molly Armour
  • Spring 2018, Lisa M. Noller and Molly Armour

Public Corruption and the Law

Winter 2020, David H. Hoffman

This seminar will focus on how governments use the law to prevent and catch public corruption, how the law is sometimes used to protect public corruption, and how one should determine the optimal response to corruption and its consequences. We will examine the substantive criminal laws and sentencing schemes used in the best public corruption prosecutions, ranging from RICO and "honest services" fraud to bribery and extortion laws. We will also examine the laws that create, authorize, or prevent the most effective investigative tools used by law enforcement against public corruption, including wiretap laws and related privacy issues. We will study several key topics within public corruption law, including patronage, its effect on democratic institutions, and its status under the First Amendment; campaign finance reform and whether money in campaigns is protected speech or a corrupting influence (or both); and the relationship between transparency, online access to information, and corruption. We will also consider an economic analysis of public corruption, including questions about whether the level of democracy, and the pervasiveness of corruption in the culture, affect the cost-benefit analysis.

Constitutional Law I and II are recommended pre-requisites. A major paper (20-25 pages) is required for students who wish to take the course for 3 credits. Students who take the course for 2 credits will write a series of short reaction papers. Participation may be considered in final grading.

Public International Law

Autumn 2019, Eric Andrew Posner

Public international law is the law that governs the relations of nation states. The class will cover the major concepts of international law, including treaties, customary international law, and state sovereignty; and several fields within international law, including human rights, international criminal law, the law of the sea, and the law of war.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, James Gathii
  • Autumn 2018, Mary Ellen O'Connell

Remedies

Autumn 2018, Ariel Porat

The way in which the law responds to violations of rights is no less important than the way in which those rights are allocated. The law of remedies determines the law's response to violations of rights, and in so doing, it delineates their boundaries and gives them legal meaning. Hence, the study of the law of remedies is closely related to the study of the substantive law, each field shedding light on the other. This course focuses on remedies in Contracts and Torts, referring to the goals of the substantive law to better understand the remedial law. It explores the law of damages in both Contracts and Torts and covers topics such as: restitutionary damages; probabilistic recoveries; offsetting benefits and offsetting risks; liquidated damages; damages for pure economic losses; and damages for severe bodily injury and death. The course also covers the remedies of specific performance in Contracts and injunction in Torts and compares and contrasts these remedies with monetary ones. Some of the defenses available to both the breaching party and the wrongdoer, such as mitigation of damages and comparative fault, in Torts and Contracts will also be discussed. Finally, the course explores a new topic, recently identified and developed in scholarly writings, which is "Aggregation of Claims." This mini-course meets for four weeks (starting September 26 and ending October 18).

Restructuring in Bankruptcy: Strategy and Tactics

Winter 2019, Chad J. Husnick

This experiential seminar focuses on strategy and tactics in restructuring financially stressed and distressed companies. We will use a series of case studies to illustrate the dynamics of advising boards of directors regarding fiduciary duties, stakeholder negotiations, and complex legal issues facing troubled companies.  The seminar will culminate with students preparing and presenting to a mock board of directors of a financially distressed company and drafting a related pleading.  Grades will be based 50% on the mock board presentation, 25% on class participation, and 25% on 10-15 page reply brief on a litigation topic discussed in the litigation session.

The Roberts Court

Spring 2019, Lee Epstein and Adam Liptak

Co-taught by Professor Lee Epstein and Mr. Adam Liptak (Supreme Court correspondent of the New York Times) with Judge Richard A. Posner and Professors Dennis Hutchinson and William M. Landes also participating, this course will examine the contemporary Supreme Court. Topics include the Court's membership; its procedures for selecting cases for review; the role of lawyers, law clerks, and journalists; and doctrinal developments in several areas of the law.

Previously:

  • Winter 2018, Lee Epstein, Adam Liptak, Richard A. Posner, Dennis J. Hutchinson, and William M. Landes

The Role and Practice of the State Attorney General

Spring 2020, Michael Scodro and Lisa Madigan

All 50 States and the District of Columbia have an Attorney General, each of whom enjoys broad discretion over a range of legal issues.  This seminar will address the institutional role of these officials, including their status within their respective state systems and their relationship to the federal government.  The course will also address a host of critical and often controversial areas-including civil rights, criminal justice, consumer fraud, and environmental regulation-where state Attorneys General have come to play a leading role on the local and national stage.  Students will be graded based on class participation and a final paper of 20-25 pages.

Previously:

  • Spring 2019, Michael Scodro and Lisa Madigan

Supreme Court Strategy, Administrative Jurisprudence, and the Law

Spring 2019, Robert Gasaway

This seminar has two goals. First, it will introduce concepts of big-case Supreme Court strategy with the aid of guest appearances by eminent ,judges, lawyers, and business executives. Scheduled to appear are Judge Amy Coney Barrett (Seventh Circuit), Mary Tolan, General Partner, Chicago-Pacific Founders and member, University of Chicago Board of Trustees; Justice Judith French (Ohio Supreme Court), W. Thomas Haynes, former General Counsel Coca-Cola North American and Executive Director, Coca-Cola Bottlers' Association, Tracy Genesen, Wine Institute General Counsel, and Jack McMackin, Williams & Jensen, and Ashley C. Parrish, King & Spalding. Second, we will explore from a jurisprudential standpoint today's administrative-law controversies -- above all, the fundamental challenges to traditional non-delegation and Chevron deference doctrines. The unifying theme for these (seemingly) distinct topics is the need to delve at least one layer of legal logic deeper when confronting difficult problems of theory and practice. Grades will be based on papers. Readings will be drawn from traditional and non-traditional legal materials. Administrative Law (whether taken previously or concurrently) is helpful; not required. A major paper of 20-25 pages is required.

Trade Secrets and Restrictive Covenant Litigation

Winter 2019, Brain Sieve and Michael Slade

This interactive course will explore legal principles applicable to trade secret and  restrictive covenant litigation.  Students will review recent cases and articles addressing cutting edge legal issues, and then will argue motions pertinent to those issues.  Students will be expected to argue at least two motions (which may include motions to dismiss, motions to compel discovery, preliminary injunction, summary judgment, or other motions), and to serve as the judge during at least one argument conducted by other students in the class.  Among other things, the class will cover the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, and non-competition and non-solicitation law in several states.  The goal is to help students understand how to present and litigate trade secret and restrictive covenant cases.  The students will also be expected to write two short papers on trade secret or non-competition issues.

Trial Advocacy

Spring 2019, Jay Cohen

This class will focus on the trial phases of civil litigation. Simulated trial problems designed to promote knowledge of the litigation process and to afford individual experience in selected phases of trial practice will be employed to familiarize students with pragmatic tactical issues and solutions. Written trial materials will be used and instruction will by lecture, demonstration, and exercise (including a mini-trial). Students who have taken the Intensive Trial Practice Workshop (LAWS 67503) may not take Trial Advocacy (LAWS 67603). An understanding of the Federal Rules of Evidence is preferred but not a prerequisite. Final grades will be based on class participation, performance during courtroom exercises and the mini-trial, and one or more written assignments. If students wish to earn 3 credits, they will also be required to submit a 15-page researched trial brief in connection with the final trial. Enrollment is limited to 12 students.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Jay Cohen

U.S. Supreme Court: Theory and Practice

Autumn 2019, Sarah M. Konsky and Michael Scodro

This seminar will provide an in-depth look at the U.S. Supreme Court, with particular emphasis on the skills required to practice successfully in that forum. Students will not only discuss the Court as an institution, but they will also hone skills needed to navigate the certiorari process and to brief and argue before the Court. In addition to class participation, students will be graded on a legal brief (generally 15-25 pages in length) and on their performance in a moot court.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Sarah M. Konsky and Michael Scodro
  • Autumn 2018, Sarah M. Konsky and Michael Scodro

Voting Rights from Reconstruction to the Roberts Court

Spring 2020, Travis Crum

This course examines the intersection of race and voting rights. From debates about voter ID laws to legal battles over redistricting, race and voting rights are inextricably intertwined in our society. This course analyzes the development of voting rights over U.S. history, starting with the passage of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments during Reconstruction. Other topics include the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the constitutionality of race-conscious redistricting, and the legal significance of racially polarized voting. Students will leave the course with an understanding of the major issues in voting rights today. Students will be graded based on short reaction papers as well as the quality of their preparation and participation in the seminar. There will not be a final examination. Prerequisites: Constitutional Law is recommended but not required.

Workshop: Judicial Behavior

Spring 2019, Lee Epstein, Frank Easterbrook, and William M. Landes

The Workshop on Judicial Behavior provides students with a unique opportunity to read and analyze cutting-edge scholarship that focuses on how judges reach their decisions. In a case law system such as that of the United States, a realistic understanding of judicial behavior, which conventional legal instruction does not convey, is essential to the understanding and practice of law. Over the course of the academic year, six scholars from the fields of law and the social sciences will present their work.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Lee Epstein, Frank Easterbrook, William M. Landes, Richard A. Posner, and Dennis J. Hutchinson
  • Winter 2018,  Lee Epstein, Frank Easterbrook, William M. Landes, Richard A. Posner, and Dennis J. Hutchinson
  • Spring 2018, Lee Epstein, Frank Easterbrook, William M. Landes, Richard A. Posner, and Dennis J. Hutchinson
  • Autumn 2018, Lee Epstein, Frank Easterbrook, and William M. Landes