Case Studies in Law & Lawyering - I



SLN #: 74358
Course Prefix: LAW-791
Course Section: 001
Credit Hours: 1
Instructor(s): Ellman

Course Description:
Note: this class is taught over two semesters. (See the full description below.) Students who enroll for the fall portion should plan on taking the spring portion also. (At the instructor's discretion, a student who is unable for some reason to continue in the spring but who has participated fully during the fall may receive one unit of pass-fail credit for the fall portion.) One grade will assigned for the entire sequence. Although the class will only meet for two hours at a time when it meets, this class is offered for three units of credit because the work load will extend over a semester and a half period. Students who wish to publish their work may continue perfecting it after the class ends, for an additional fourth credit.

This seminar will meet once a week for 7 weeks in the Fall 2009 semester, beginning in October. During these classes, students will read about 10 case studies drawn from the “Stories” series that Foundation Press has been issuing. We will read stories from an array of fields such as family law, torts, property, employment law, tax law, intellectual property, administrative law, constitutional law, and others. The authors of these stories have read trial transcripts and briefs, interviewed the attorneys or parties, and otherwise did the background investigation necessary to put the legal dispute in the historical and legal context in which it arose. Our purpose in reading these stories is to provide students with a model for the kind of project each student will complete for the course. That project is to choose a case of your own, from any field of law in which you are interested, and prepare a similar case study. I will offer students some suggestions of cases, emphasizing ones that that have some Arizona connection, whether litigated in state or federal courts here. Examples might be the Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, or the Stanhardt case on gay marriage. But students are not required to work on an Arizona case. We do want cases that are recent enough so that it will be possible for students to find and interview at least some of the principal figures, whether parties or attorneys.

Students will select their case and begin establishing their research plan during the fall. This preparation will include getting a good doctrinal command of the legal issues raised by the case you choose, and acquiring a sense of the potentially relevant historical or social facts that you will want to explore to put the legal issues in a wider context. Before the fall semester ends students will have submitted and gained approval from the instructor for a research plan on the case they have chosen. However, I expect that the primary effort on the projects will take place after the fall semester ends. We will meet at the beginning of the spring semester, to discuss as a group issues or problems that students have encountered in their projects. We will likely have an additional meeting or two in the first half of the spring semester to follow up these conversations.

During both fall and spring, there will be interim benchmark requirements for the students to meet as they work on their projects, to ensure they are making progress in obtaining the necessary primary materials such as trial transcripts, having command of the legal and contextual issues, locating principals to interview, planning their questions for those interviews, and formulating the theme for the case study.

Regular class sessions will resume during the second half of the spring semester, during which the students will present their cases to the class. I anticipate six or seven class meetings during the spring semester.

All students who complete the requirements for the class will qualify for either the graduation writing requirement or the seminar writing requirement, at their option. Students may also qualify for the skills requirement, at the instructor's option, if the nature of their project and their work on it so justifies. Satisfaction of the skills requirement turns largely on the extent to which the student in fact gained an appreciation of the lawyering problems that confronted each side, and of the value of the solutions each side chose, from the student's review of the case materials and from discussions with the involved attorneys. Under law school rules, a student can use the same course to meet both the skills requirement and the seminar writing requirement, but cannot use the same course to satisfy both writing requirements, or to satisfy both the skills requirement and the graduation writing requirement.

Additional Information:
Credit Hours: 1
Grading Option: Numeric Grade or Letter Grade Only
Written Assignment: Yes
Graduation Writing Requirement: Yes*
Flexible Writing Requirement: Yes*
Skills Requirement: Yes*
Note: The graduate writing requirement cannot be combined with the flexible writing or skills requirement. The flexible writing requirement can also be used to fulfill the skills requirement if they are both marked above.
Prerequisite: None
Special Withdrawal Course: No
Limited Enrollment Number: 12
Final Exam Given: No
Paper or In-Class Presentation: Yes
Attendance Policy: Per Statement of Student Policies
Additional Attendance Policy: This is a seminar class in which student participation is critical. Attendance is expected.
Online Course Site: Blackboard