Law and Other Disciplines
Law is no longer a discrete or autonomous body of knowledge, if ever it was, and the practice of law can no longer be neatly separated from the practice of other disciplines. Law affects and is affected by other disciplines and other professions in at least three ways. First, some other area of knowledge and the disciplines and practices which concern it may at times be the subject of legal control and regulation: for example, legal regulation significantly affects the promulgation of knowledge and expertise in the liberal arts, through constraints on a university's system of promotion and tenure. Second, the expertise provided by another organized body of knowledge may at times be necessary to the resolution of a particular legal issue. The "expert testimony" of a mental health professional, for example, is often central to a judgment of culpability or non-culpability in a criminal law proceeding. And third, law may be the subject matter of another discipline. Thus, the study of law might be sensibly regarded as not only preparation for a profession, but also as a branch of the humanities or the social sciences. If so, then literature, philosophy, cultural studies, economics, history, or sociology might all provide insights into the nature of law.
Some of the interdisciplinary offerings at Georgetown fit neatly into one of the three categories described above, but a number of them address all three sorts of interdisciplinary concerns. What all of these courses share is their interdisciplinarity: all of the courses in this cluster require of the student (and instructor!) a willingness to acquaint him or herself with the tools and basic building blocks of another discipline, whether toward the end of better understanding the law or the idea of law, toward the end of incorporating knowledge gleaned from the other discipline into a legal decision, or toward the end of achieving a just legal or regulatory regime of the discipline in question. It is worth stressing, however, that only a few of the interdisciplinary offerings at Georgetown require specialized knowledge or familiarity with the other discipline as a prerequisite for enrollment in the class. Rather, what is required of the student is simply a willingness to work toward some level of proficiency in the sister discipline, and a willingness to entertain the possibility of applying its insights in arguably novel ways to legal and jurisprudential questions.
The Legal Regulation of Knowledge and Practice
A number of the interdisciplinary offerings at Georgetown aim to elucidate the ways in which law affects, shapes and perhaps even defines the promulgation of knowledge and practice in some other discipline or profession. Often, the "law" that controls another discipline or profession comes from a wide range of "traditional" subject matters. Thus, the Law of Cyberspace looks at the legal regulation, through the law of intellectual property, tort, contract, criminal and commercial law of burgeoning cyberspace activity, and the Law and Higher Education Seminar examines the regulation, through constitutional law, antitrust law and the traditional law of tort and contract, of higher education. Similarly, Health Law and Policy looks at the legal regulation of the health professions and of medical knowledge through the lens of various areas of law. The Law and Science Seminar looks at the control of science through congressional, judicial, and agency action, and the Law and Religion Seminar examines the status of religion in American law.
These seminars and courses share a number of common themes. They all ask, in different ways, and with a different focus, whether traditional legal categories are adequate to suit the needs of the particular discipline or profession. Thus, the course in Law of Cyberspace asks whether, for example, the traditional law of contract formation can be adapted to the peculiarities of commerce conducted via the Internet, while the seminar on Law and Higher Education asks among much else whether traditional malpractice law, contract doctrine, or antitrust law can be suitably employed in the context of higher education, or whether the unique structures and missions of higher education require a more innovative legal regime. They also all examine, again in different ways and some more explicitly than others, the ways in which the legal regulatory regime actually defines as well as restricts the body of knowledge or set of disciplinary practices in questions. Thus, the Law and Science Seminar looks with some care at the extent of governmental control of science, and the Law and Religion Seminar similarly examines the impact on religion of its legal regulation. And finally, at least some of these offerings looks at the intersection of law, the discipline in question, and the specifically ethical questions to which the discipline gives rise. The Bioethics and the Law Seminar, for example, looks in detail at both legal regulation over and ethical reasoning about both professional and non-professional decisions regarding informed consent, death and dying, fetal treatment and research, and reproductive technologies, among many other issues.
Specialized Knowledge, Experts and Expertise
Some of the interdisciplinary offerings at Georgetown look in detail at the role of the "expert," and of specialized expertise itself, in legal decision-making. The Law and Psychiatry Seminar, for example, introduces psychiatric methodology with an eye toward elucidating the central role of the expert in the civil commitment, diagnosis, treatment, and containment of the mentally ill (as well as the role of the lawyer in the mental health system). More generally, the Law and Social Science course examines the various uses of social science experts in litigation and in other forms of legal decision-making, explicitly contrasting the methodology of social science with the methods of law in evaluating and weighing empirical claims.
The Interdisciplinary Study of Law
Georgetown offers a number of seminars and courses designed to enrich our understanding of law by examining the idea of law, particular areas of doctrine, and various legal processes with tools of analysis and insights borrowed from other disciplines. These courses in turn subdivide into two areas: those which examine law as essentially a branch of the humanities, and those which examine law through the lens of economics.
Law and Humanities
Law and Humanities offerings all aim to place law in the context of our cultural history. There are also several specialized seminars that look to literature and other art forms for insight into the role of law in history and in contemporary life, and also look to literary and cultural theories for a greater understanding of the humanistic processes by which we write, read and interpret legal texts. Other offerings seek an enriched appreciation of the idea of law in western culture by examining arguments about law and legalism propounded by major political and moral philosophers. The Films and the Law Seminar addresses the interplay between law and film. It examines the effect of film on legal cultures, the influence of films on public perception of the legal systems, the use of film of advocacy, and the use of film as an alternative to written text. Additional Law and Humanities offerings are described under the Jurisprudence and Legal History heading of this publication.
Law and Economics
Lastly, a number of course and seminar offerings at Georgetown look systematically at law, legal doctrine and jurisprudence using the tools of economic reasoning. The Economic Reasoning and the Law course both applies economic reasoning to legal problems, and addresses the strengths and limitations of the "law and economics" jurisprudential movement.
Students who want to pursue economic analysis beyond these offerings should consider applying for the Law and Economics Workshop. The workshop meets weekly for a year. At most meetings outside speakers present a paper on an issue touching on law and economics. Students are responsible for preparing brief weekly memoranda that discuss and question the presented papers.
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Who should take interdisciplinary courses? Students with prior training in or a strong interest in the related discipline or profession, such as medicine or computers, might obviously find an interdisciplinary offering concerning that discipline of great interest, whether or not he or she intends to return to the profession after law school. Students interested in pursuing an academic career in law would be well advised to take at least one offering from the "law and economics" curriculum and one from the "law and humanities" field, as well as courses in legal history and jurisprudence.
Even beyond students with specialized interests or training, or with legal-academic aspirations, however, it is our belief that all students would be well advised to fit at least one interdisciplinary offering, and hopefully more than one, into their curriculum at some point in their legal education, for at least two reasons. First, familiarity with other disciplines is an obvious necessity in some areas of practice. While the smattering of specialized knowledge that comes with one course in law school will obviously not sustain a practice, a lawyer unintimidated by the prospect of familiarizing herself with the conceptual tools of other disciplines and professions will have an enhanced ability to use her own legal expertise in a meaningful way, where those disciplines intersect with law. It makes sense to develop the confidence as a student that the requisite level of mastery of another discipline is indeed possible. Second, and independent of particular career aspirations or goals, all lawyers serve or ought to serve both the felt, contingent needs of people who seek legal counsel or are affected by the law's reach, and the more inchoate yearnings of all of us for a just society. The teachings of other disciplines, and particularly the teachings of both the sciences and the humanities, can guide the lawyer in her attempt to provide a service for others, and can give some meaning to her quest for justice through law.
Anyone searching for definitive answers in the humanities or social sciences to the deep questions regarding the meaning of law will no doubt be disappointed. But the systematic study of these questions using the tools and insights of other disciplines can provide a fresh approach and can instill a confidence that the quest is a meaningful one. Equally important, it can acquaint the student with a community of peers who are equally committed to the intellectual work. That community, in turn, is one with whom a lawyer may remain fruitfully engaged through the course of her professional life -- an interaction which, as much as any other professional activity, may provide that life with its less material but more lasting rewards.
J.D. Clinic | 14 credit hours
Please see the Affordable Housing Transaction Clinic website for more detailed information about the program.
For registration-specific supplemental materials, please see the Affordable Housing Transactions Clinic PDF.
For information about clinic registration generally, please see the Clinic Registration Handbook.
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not concurrently enroll in this clinic and an externship or a practicum course.
J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 2-3 credit hours
This course will examine major intersections of law and art in the United States, focusing on cases and legislation in light of social, political, and art historical influences. We will consider questions implicated by art law’s myriad incarnations, such as why art receives special legal treatment, how law defines art, and who benefits. Ongoing themes will be the dissonances of existing law with twenty-first century culture and digital technology, and new developments. Areas include freedom of expression, copyright, moral rights, authenticity, the right of publicity, authorship, museums, and the art market, with visits by outside speakers on selected topics.
All students taking the course will be expected to develop original papers reflecting substantial critical engagement with an art law topic of their choice, in satisfaction of the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement for J.D. students. Participation will also play a significant role in the course, including discussion of assigned readings and short reflection pieces. Classroom time in the latter part of the semester will be devoted to student presentations and feedback.
Learning goals for the course:
Developing skills in critical analysis and scholarly writing; developing proficiency in a body of law and relevant policy concerns; expanding knowledge of doctrinal analysis through close reading of cases, legislation, and related authorities, along with the influences of cultural and historical context.
Recommended: Any course that intersects or potentially intersects with art, e.g., copyright, trademark, cultural or historic preservation, constitutional law, etc.
Note: THIS COURSE REQUIRES PROFESSOR PERMISSION TO ENROLL. Please submit a statement of interest by 5:00 pm on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 in the seminar to Professor Bonneau (firstname.lastname@example.org) explaining why you are interested in the class and any relevant background or experience you have. Professor Bonneau is making her decisions and filling the open slots in the seminar on a rolling basis.
J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 2-3 credit hours
Humans are imperfect. They misperceive facts, lack willpower, don't know what makes themselves happy, take mental shortcuts, get impatient, can't do math. Should these facts matter for the design of legal systems? For example, should the law protect mistaken consumers, or would doing so only discourage buyers from learning to overcome their shortcomings? This seminar explores these questions in a number of legal contexts, including not only consumer protection but also criminal law, public finance, administrative law, corporate law, and others. We will begin with a brief review of basic economic concepts such as utility, supply & demand, expected value, and rational choice under uncertainty.
Each subsequent unit of theory will be paired with a practical policy issue, allowing us to learn and apply the theory in a concrete context. Topics include the phenomena of “satisficing,” impatience, salience, loss aversion, over-confidence, cognitive dissonance, and adaptive preferences, as well as the more general debate over government “paternalism.” Students will write weekly responses and research paper.
J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours
This course covers basic business concepts that are useful across many areas of legal practice. First, it introduces financial accounting, with a focus on understanding and using financial statements. Second, it deals with core financial concepts, such as the time value of money, risk versus return, and methods for valuing assets. Third, the course discusses the basic categories of financial instruments: debt, equity, and derivatives. Although these topics all inevitably involve numbers, mathematical complexity is kept to a minimum. Much of the reading consists of excerpts from case law, which illustrate business concepts and their relation to legal practice.
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for this course and Demystifying Finance: A Short Course for Law Students or Business Basics for Lawyers.
Note: This course is mandatory pass/fail and will not count toward the 7 credit pass/fail limit for J.D. students.
J.D. Course | 2 credit hours
How much will $10 today be worth in 10 years? How much do I need to have today in assets if I want to be worth $10,000,000 in 10 years? What does value creation mean in the context of a corporation? How do I value a lump sum payment for future damages in a settlement negotiation for copyright infringement?
Business Basics for Lawyers, a two-credit pass/fail course, tackles these very questions and more. The purpose of the course is to introduce basic principles of business, such as finance and accounting, to enhance a lawyer's ability to navigate business issues as relevant to successful representation of clients and the general practice of law. Emphasis lies on core concepts, essential vocabulary and basic tools of business.
The course does not assume any prior quantitative knowledge beyond basic algebra. While attention will be paid to financial issues, the goal lies not on mastering the technical skills but on developing an understanding of how that information can be applied and used in the effective practice of law. The course will rely heavily on a series of case study discussions that demonstrate how an understanding of business can empower lawyers.
Course evaluation will include both class participation and a final examination to ensure that proficiency is developed in analyzing and using basic financial and accounting information.
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for this course and Demystifying Finance: A Short Course for Law Students or Business and Financial Basics for Lawyers.
Note: This course enrolls via the waitlist process only. This course will be offered initially to students already waitlisted for Demystifying Finance (Week One 2017 section).The course will meet Monday, January 9 – Thursday, January 12, 2017, 9:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m. The course will be graded on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards the 7 credit pass/fail limit. WEEK ONE COURSE. FIRST CLASS ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY. Attendance at all class sessions is mandatory and all enrolled students must attend the first class in order to remain enrolled. Students on the wait list must attend the first class in order to be admitted off the wait list. Enrolled students will have until the beginning of the second class session to request a drop by contacting the Office of the Registrar. Once the second class session begins, students may only seek a withdrawal by contacting an academic advisor in the Office of JD Academic Services. Withdrawals are permitted up until the last class for this specific course.
J.D. Course | 1 credit hour
As new lawyers enter the workforce, often they are not just new to the law, but new to the world of business. As the market for legal services becomes increasingly more competitive, each of us needs to distinguish ourselves not just regarding the services we provide, but in the way we provide them. Successful service providers constantly interact with colleagues and clients. Therefore, superior communication skills become essential. The Communication Skills Boot Camp is a Week One simulation course designed to help law students rethink how they share information. Students will learn to put the needs of their listeners first, both when preparing for and during the conversation, and will refine their delivery skills. Through group exercises, customized role plays, and instructor coaching, students will learn a range of communication skills, including how to: focus on the needs of others; share information with confidence and credibility; understand personal communication styles; develop a clear message and deliver it with presence; ask better questions and listen for key insights; handle questions and emotional reactions effectively; guide a problem-solving discussion; lead an effective brainstorming discussion; and implement effective habits of innovative professionals.
Note: FIRST-YEAR WEEK ONE COURSE: This course will meet on the following days: Monday, January 8, 2018, through Thursday, January 11, 2018. This course is mandatory pass/fail, and does NOT count against the 7-credit pass/fail limit for J.D. students.This optional, elective course is for first-year J.D. students only, who are enrolled through a lottery process. ATTENDANCE AT ALL CLASS SESSIONS IS MANDATORY. All enrolled students must be in attendance at the start of the first class session in order to be eligible for a seat in the class and must attend each class session in its entirety. For more information see Week One website. Due to the intensive nature of the course, the small-group, team, and individual work that is involved, and the preparation that is necessary to ensure a positive student experience, students who wish to drop the course after they have accepted a seat must drop by Friday, December 1, at 3:00 p.m. After that point, permission from the course professor and Assistant Dean for Experiential Learning is required.
J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours
The course is based on the premise that computer programming has become a vital skill for non-technical professionals generally and for future lawyers and policymakers specifically. Lawyers, irrespective of specialty or type of practice, organize, evaluate, and manipulate large sets of text-based data (e.g. cases, statutes, regulations, contracts, etc.) Increasingly, lawyers are asked to deal with quantitative data and complex databases. Very simple programming techniques can expedite and simplify these tasks, yet these programming techniques tend to be poorly understood in legal practice and nearly absent in legal education. In this class, students will gain proficiency in various programming-related skills.
A secondary goal for the class is to introduce students to computer programming and computer scientific concepts they might encounter in the substantive practice of law. Students might discuss, for example, how programming concepts illuminate and influence current debates in privacy, intellectual property, consumer protection, antidiscrimination, antitrust, and criminal procedure.
This is a hands-on class. Each student will spend most class sessions using his or her own computers, reading, writing, and debugging code. Every student must bring to every class a computer, on which free software will be provided to be installed. Students will be required to complete problem sets between class meetings. To obtain a passing grade, students must complete problem sets and larger coding assignments, participate in class sessions, and demonstrate they have learned the assigned skills.
At the completion of this class, students should be able to write simple to moderately complex computer programs that can automate text-handling and data-handling tasks that would be difficult or impossible to perform without programming skill. Students will also gain a solid foundation of programming knowledge and skills they can build upon to progress toward mastering more advanced programming techniques and other programming languages.
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students who have completed at least one computer programming course in college or graduate school or who have mastered at least one computer programming language are not eligible for this course.
Note: FIRST CLASS ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY. All enrolled and waitlisted students must be in attendance at the start of the first class session in order to be eligible for a seat in the class.This course is mandatory pass/fail and will not count toward the 7 credit pass/fail limit for J.D. students. Note: This course will meet twice each week. There will be one two-hour lecture with all enrolled students, followed later in the week by a second class session consisting of one-hour lab sections broken into small groups of 15 students. Students will be enrolled in only one small lab section. In preregistering for this course, students should select the section that best meets their schedule in terms of the one-hour lab session.
J.D. Course | 2 credit hours
This class builds on Computer Programming for Lawyers: An Introduction by introducing students to intermediate-level concepts of computer programming and computer science relevant to legal practice. The students in this course will serve as the Teaching Assistants for the introductory course, which will always be taught concurrently. In addition, students in this course will complete at least one substantial programming term project.
Enrollment in this course is by prior permission of the Professor only. All students must have prior computer programming experience. Students who have successfully completed the introductory course meet this requirement. Other students must demonstrate comparable prior experience, but this experience need not be formal training or professional experience. Students need not possess a technical degree, and self-taught programmers are welcome.
The course is based on the premise that computer programming has become a vital skill for non-technical professionals generally and for future lawyers and policymakers specifically. Lawyers, irrespective of specialty or type of practice, organize, evaluate, and manipulate large sets of text-based data (e.g. cases, statutes, regulations, contracts, etc.) Increasingly, lawyers are asked to deal with quantitative data and complex databases. Programming techniques can expedite and simplify these tasks, yet these programming techniques tend to be poorly understood in legal practice and nearly absent in legal education. In this class, students will gain proficiency in various programming-related skills.
A secondary goal for the class is to introduce students to computer programming and computer scientific concepts they might encounter in the substantive practice of law. Students might discuss, for example, how programming concepts illuminate and influence current debates in privacy, intellectual property, consumer protection, antidiscrimination, antitrust, litigation and criminal procedure.
This is a hands-on class. Each student will spend most class sessions using his or her own computers, reading, writing, and debugging code. Every student must bring to every class a computer, on which free software will be provided to be installed.
Note: THIS COURSE REQUIRES PROFESSOR PERMISSION TO ENROLL. Interested students should contact Professor Ohm at (email@example.com) by Tuesday, June 6, 2017.Withdrawal Policy: Students in Computer Programming: Intermediate serve as Teaching Assistants (TAs) to students enrolled in Computer Programming for Lawyers: An Introduction. Because the introductory class cannot operate without a minimum and stable number of TAs, it is essential we ensure a fixed enrollment for the intermediate class, by adopting special rules for dropping the class. A student enrolled in Computer Programming for Lawyers: Intermediate may drop the class no later than 3pm on Wednesday, November 1, 2017, and only by notifying Professor Ohm in writing.
J.D. Course | 2 credit hours
This two-credit pass/fail course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the basic principles of finance and accounting in order to enhance their study of business law. The course is intended to provide students with little or no prior background in finance and accounting with an introduction to the core concepts, the essential vocabulary, and the basic tools of these two subject areas. The course will be taught prior to the start of the Fall 2015 semester in a one-week intensive format and will equip students with a basic primer of topics relevant to a range of business law course. Accordingly, it covers subjects such as the time value of money, the distinction between debt and equity, the role of risk in valuing financial assets, and how assets and liabilities are described in accounting materials such as balance sheets and income statements.
An important goal for the class is give law students a better foundation in finance and accounting to deepen and accelerate their learning in corporate and business law subjects. For that reason, the first section of this course will be offered prior to the start of the fall term. This course will be offered for one week, Monday, August 15 through Friday, August, 19, 2016. The class will meet Monday through Thursday, from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and on Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. There will be a self-scheduled take-home final exam. The course will be graded on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards the 7 credit pass/fail limit. The course will be quantitative in nature and students should expect to use some basic algebra.
Note: All enrolled and waitlisted students must attend the first class to be enrolled.
Note: This course is offered on a tuition-free basis in the 2016-2017 academic year.
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for this course and Business Basics for Lawyers or Business and Financial Basics for Lawyers.
Note: This course will be offered for one week, Monday, August 15 through Friday, August, 19, 2016. The class will meet Monday through Thursday, from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and on Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. The course will be graded on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards the 7 credit pass/fail limit. The 2 credits counts towards a student’s total credit load for the Fall 2016 semester. Full-time J.D. students enrolled in this course will be allowed to take up to 17 credits overall in the Fall 2016 semester (permission of an Academic Advisor is not required). Part-time J.D. students enrolled in this course will be allowed to take up to 12 credits overall in the Fall 2016 semester. The course will be quantitative in nature and students should expect to use some basic algebra.FIRST CLASS ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY. All enrolled and waitlisted students must be in attendance at the start of the first class session in order to be eligible for a seat in the class. Withdrawals are permitted up until the last class for this specific course.
J.D. Seminar | 2 credit hours
Video production has rapidly become an important component in all industries, including law. Videos can serve as a powerful tool for social justice when collecting visual evidence, recording depositions, and creating engaging legal presentations to complement more detailed written reports. This course introduces film as a tool for social justice through hands-on video production as well as screenings and discussions. The course examines significant social issues through film analysis and discussion, and through video production. Students will learn to become proficient in film through producing short projects and through developing a critical eye. In-class excerpts will be screened and discussed. Attendance and class participation are integral parts of the class and will be a factor in the final grade. Students are expected to complete all reading, screening and production assignments. We may have one or two guest filmmakers during the semester.
Readings consist of books, film articles and reviews. Books include: The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video by Tom Schroeppel, Documentary Storytelling by Sheila Curran Bernard, Writing for Story by Jonathan Franklin, and Screening Justice: The Cinema of Law by Rennard Strickland, Teree E. Foster, and Taunya Lovell Banks.
There will be three assigned productions, and students will work in groups of 2-3 people. All productions must receive approval by the instructor before students can begin.
Students will need a Netflix membership (or comparable online access) and will have access to the Williams Law Library DVD collection.
J.D. Seminar | 2-3 credit hours
The Law and Economics Workshop is a research workshop. In a majority of the class sessions, outside speakers (typically faculty members from other institutions) will present their current work in the field of law and economics. The specific topics considered will vary depending on the interests of the speakers, but the general focus will be the application of economic concepts and tools to legal and regulatory issues. Other class sessions will focus on selected basic topics in law and economics, including methodology commonly used in law and economics scholarship. Students are responsible for preparing brief weekly memoranda that discuss and question the presented papers.
Note: Students must register for the 3 credit section of the course if they wish to write a paper fulfilling the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement. The requirements of the 2 credit section will not fulfill the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement.
J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours
This seminar examines the contribution to our understanding of law made by the current "law and literature" movement in American law schools. The seminar will pursue three major themes. First, we will read several pieces of classical and modern literature that treat law as subject matter, including (subject to change) Remains of the Day, The Great Gatsby, Bartleby the Scrivener, Go Set a Watchman, Lets Be Free, Jury of Her Peers, and the films Doubt and To Kill a Mockingbird. Second, we will examine the theoretical claim of modern humanistic jurists and legal theorists that the interpretation of law and the interpretation of literature are common enterprises, significantly sharing common problems and potentialities. Finally, we will examine the role of narrative and story-telling in standard legal argument and in legal education.
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for this seminar and Law and Humanities Seminar.
J.D. Seminar | 2 credit hours
This course will examine the treatment of legal themes in literary texts as part of a broader consideration of the relationship between literature and the law. We will compare and contrast how literature and the law address “questions that matter,” including individual morality, criminal law, and racial and gender equality. Students will consider how literary texts, like legal texts, have power to influence politics and society. Many readings will invite consideration of “the other” in literary texts and the treatment of minorities in the criminal justice system. Readings will include such classic texts as Antigone, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Lottery, but we will also include lesser-known and more recent works including some dystopian fiction. We will discuss the continuing relevance of these readings for vexed contemporary questions such as civil disobedience, the death penalty debate, and ethical choices faced by lawyers in litigation. We will also examine the treatment of trials in literary texts and view some high-quality film depictions of trial scenes in texts that we study. Students will be exposed to contemporary critical theory that has questioned and in some significantly modified traditional readings of the judgments of canonical texts.
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for this seminar and Law and Humanities Seminar or Judicial Themes in Literature Seminar.
J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 2-3 credit hours
This seminar will explore in depth how lawyers and judges use language to persuade. Relying on classical and modern rhetorical theory, we will examine a variety of persuasive methods, including categories, metaphor, storytelling, the traditional modes of appeal (logos, pathos, and ethos), and informal logic. We will also study several examples of rhetorical analysis, and students will write an original rhetorical analysis of a law-related argument of their choice. This course requires that J.D. students’ papers satisfy the Law Center’s Writing Requirement. Graduate students may enroll in the course for 2 credits and will write a shorter paper. All students will present their paper to the class at the end of the semester.
Prerequisite: Legal Practice: Writing and Analysis.
Note: Professor permission is not required. FIRST CLASS ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY. All enrolled and waitlisted students must be in attendance at the first and second class sessions in order to be eligible for a seat in the class.
J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 1 credit hour
Lawyers are often expected or asked to assume leadership roles in business, politics, law firms or non-profit organizations. A lawyer’s education, training, and experience provides some of the basic skills for future leaders; however, many leadership and team skills are not taught in law schools and often are not acquired by practicing attorneys. Since work is often conducted in teams, both group and individual behavior is important to understand. This class is designed to provide students with an understanding of the principles of leadership, team effectiveness, and managing and motivating professionals. A portion of the class will be devoted to individual student evaluations regarding their own leadership and team abilities. These topics are aimed to increase law students’ effectiveness throughout their careers by 1) understanding organizational behavior and 2) building core interpersonal, management, leadership, and client relationship competencies.
The learning that occurs in the course will be highly dependent upon the contributions of each and every member. We will approach learning in several different ways, including lecture, interactive exercises, reflection, and an experiential simulation that will simulate decision-making and working in a law firm. Due to the interactive nature of the course, attendance is expected. Students will complete a personal journal designed to allow students to evaluate themselves in relationship to the class readings, simulation, group work, and discussions.
Note: ATTENDANCE AT ALL CLASS SESSIONS IS MANDATORY. Enrolled and waitlisted students must attend the first class session in order to remain enrolled or to be eligible to be enrolled off of the waitlist. Note: This seminar is mandatory pass/fail and will not count toward the 7 credit pass/fail limit.Note: A student will be permitted to drop a course that meets for the first time after the add/drop period, without a transcript notation, if a student submits a written request to the Office of the Registrar prior to the start of the second class meeting. Withdrawals are permitted up until the last class for this specific course. This course will be enrolled via waitlist.
J.D. Clinic | 8 or 14 credit hours
Learning outcomes for this clinic: Students are supervised, evaluated and graded on three skill sets, each of which has explicit evaluation criteria in the clinical program design.
- Strategy and management – includes “managing up” through supervision meetings; planning work for strategic outcomes; managing effort and deadlines; collaborating
- Research and analysis – includes identifying legal and policy issues, learning the context efficiently, using diverse sources to avoid bias, explaining analytic methods, using a logical framework, and drawing conclusions or options that meet client needs.
- Communication, writing and speaking – includes organizing documents and presentations logically; meeting audience needs for context in the introduction and for decision-making in the conclusion; relating analysis through stories, examples, and slides; using appropriate language in terms of editing conventions, clarity, tone, and jargon.
Recommended: Legislation and Administrative Law. Also, for climate projects: Local Government Law; and for trade or human rights projects: International Law I, International Trade (various titles), World Trade Organization: Law, Policy and Dispute Settlement, and International Human Rights.
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not concurrently enroll in this clinic and an externship or a practicum course.
Note: Please see the Harrison Institute for Public Law Policy Clinic website for more detailed information about the program.For registration-specific supplemental materials, please see the Policy Clinic DOCX. For information about clinic registration generally, please see the Clinic Registration Handbook.
LAW 1315 v00 Privacy Legislation: Law and Technology (Project-Based Practicum)
J.D. Practicum | 5 credit hours
PROJECT WORK: The practicum will pair law students at Georgetown Law with technology students at MIT to form five interdisciplinary teams, each likely consisting of two law students and two MIT students. Each team will be assigned a specific question of public policy, and over the course of the semester the team will be responsible for preparing a detailed legal assessment of the policy question, the technological frameworks and challenges associated with the policy question, and formulating policy and technological recommendations to address the question in the form of draft state legislation. Among the kinds of questions that students may be asked to address are the following: (a) the implications of commercial geolocation privacy, with a particular emphasis on stalking apps; (b) the commercial and government use of biometrics, including facial recognition technology, fingerprint readers, retinal scans, and other biological markers; (c) the privacy of health data generated by wearable devices and health and fitness apps; (d) the implications and efficacy of various forms of de-identification and anonymity practices and their legal implications; and (e) whether some variant on the “right to be forgotten” can be implemented consistent with the demands of the First Amendment and the technological constraints.
Prerequisite: J.D. students must complete the required first-year program prior to enrolling (part-time and interdivisional transfer students may enroll prior to completing Criminal Justice, Property, or their first-year elective).
Strongly Recommended: Information Privacy Law with either Professor Julie Cohen, Professor Paul Ohm or Professor Marc Rotenberg.
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not concurrently enroll in this practicum course and a clinic or another practicum course. Students may concurrently enroll in this practicum course and an externship.
Note: This practicum course is open to LL.M. students, space permitting. Interested LL.M. students should email Louis Fine (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request admission.This practicum may be suitable for evening students who can commit to attending class and participating in 15 hours/week of project work. Students will travel to Boston at the beginning of the semester; Georgetown Law will cover the expense. Because tickets must be purchased for this, any student who enrolls in this practicum may only drop the course with the permission of the professors and the Assistant Dean of Experiential Education. Permission will be granted if remaining in the practicum would cause significant hardship to the student. This is a five-credit course. Two credits will be awarded for the two-hour weekly seminar and three credits will be awarded for approximately 15 hours of project work per week, for a minimum of 11 weeks. Both the seminar and the project work will be graded. Students who enroll in this course will be automatically enrolled in both the seminar and project components and may not take either component separately. After Add/Drop, a student who wishes to withdraw from a practicum course must obtain permission from the faculty member and the Assistant Dean for Experiential Education. The Assistant Dean will grant such withdrawal requests only when remaining enrolled in the practicum would cause significant hardship for the student. A student who is granted permission to withdraw will be withdrawn from both the seminar and project components. Default attendance rule for all practicum courses (unless the professor indicates otherwise): Regular and punctual attendance is required at all practicum seminars and fieldwork placements. Students in project-based practicum courses are similarly required to devote the requisite number of hours to their project. If a student must miss seminar, fieldwork, or project work, he or she must speak to the professor as soon as possible to discuss the absence. Unless the professor indicates otherwise, a student with more than one unexcused absence from the practicum seminar (out of 13 total seminar sessions), or one week of unexcused absences from the fieldwork or project work (out of a total of 11 weeks of fieldwork or project work), may receive a lower grade or, at the professor’s discretion, may be withdrawn from the practicum course.
J.D. Course | 1 credit hour
For decades, American law enforcement has tracked our technology – our phones, our cars, and our computers. The latest generation of law enforcement technology tracks our bodies. And unlike fingerprint technology – the legacy biometric of law enforcement – the latest generation of biometric technology can be captured remotely and in secret. At the center of that drive is face recognition technology. Recently the FBI revealed that it had access to a network of 411 million photos, roughly a third of which are drawn from state driver’s license photo databases. Meanwhile, private companies are not sitting on the sidelines. Instead, major brick-and-mortar retailers like Wal-Mart are deploying face recognition technology to identify shoplifters, “complainers,” and “known litigious individuals” the moment they set foot inside a store. At the same time, enterprising app developers are bringing this ability to identify anyone with the touch of a button to the hands of private citizens. Despite the advanced deployment, the Supreme Court has yet to recognize a right to privacy in public – and only two of fifty states regulate commercial use of face recognition. If there was ever a time to pass legislation to regulate face recognition, it is now. This Week One simulation will teach students the nuts and bolts of privacy advocacy – with a focus not in the courtroom, but in Congress and in state legislatures around the country. Students will learn about how face recognition technology works and how it is being deployed by both law enforcement and commercial actors. Then, they will debate the evolving Fourth Amendment doctrine around tracking in public and develop amendments to existing state legislation to regulate commercial use. Once the students have established a familiarity with the law and the technology, the core challenge of the course will begin – students will draft legislation and legislative amendments and engage in a prolonged negotiation that mirrors the actual legislative process. In addition to teaching students the law and technology surrounding face recognition, students will learn legislative drafting, strategy, and presentation skills. They will also work collaboratively in teams to complete a time-consuming and complex challenge.
Note: FIRST-YEAR WEEK ONE COURSE: This course will meet on the following days: Monday, January 8, 2018, through Thursday, January 11, 2018. This course is mandatory pass/fail, and does NOT count against the 7-credit pass/fail limit for J.D. students.This optional, elective course is for first-year J.D. students only, who are enrolled through a lottery process. ATTENDANCE AT ALL CLASS SESSIONS IS MANDATORY. All enrolled and waitlisted students must be in attendance at the start of the first class session in order to be eligible for a seat in the class and must attend each class session in its entirety. For more information see the Week One website. Due to the intensive nature of the course, the small-group, team, and individual work that is involved, and the preparation that is necessary to ensure a positive student experience, students who wish to drop the course after they have accepted a seat must drop by Friday, December 1, at 3:00 p.m. After that point, permission from the course professor and Assistant Dean for Experiential Learning is required.
J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 2-3 credit hours
This course explores the many ways in which law is implicated in histories of racial differentiation and subordination in the United States. Beginning with histories of colonial settlerism, native dispossession, and black bondage, this course will explore the distinctly racial character of capital accumulation, in the United States and now globally. We continue though the revolutions of emancipation, racial segregation, and selective migration, to understand the racialized patterns of economic inequality rooted in our present. Though the readings assigned in this course have been selected to provide students with a richly historical framework for understanding contemporary crises, students are encouraged to introduce questions that concern them most immediately. Students are also encouraged to think critically across intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality.
There are no prerequisites for this class, but students should be prepared to engage with variety of materials, not limited to legal cases or statutes. Students will be introduced to foundational essays in the critical legal tradition, as well as emerging interdisciplinary scholarship in postcolonial studies, critical indigenous studies, black radicalism, ethnic / American studies, and feminist / queer studies.
Students will be expected to draft short weekly reflections, to participate in leading our seminar discussion at least once during the semester, and to submit a final paper on a topic of their own choosing.
Note: J.D. students must register for the 3 credit section of the seminar if they wish to write a paper fulfilling the J.D. Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement. The paper requirements of the two-credit section will not fulfill the J.D. Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement.
J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours
For some, the ways in which we think about legal questions, and about our own work as lawyers, are related to our religious or spiritual outlook. The seminar will explore the content of that relation, and such questions as: is such a connection appropriate only as a private matter, not to be brought into the evaluation of policy questions or even into conversation, except with one’s chosen intimates? Can its importance to our legal thinking be honored in a manner that honors too our political commitment to pluralism and freedom of conscience? What is the difference, if any, between religious and secular sources of values? How may one integrate a religious commitment with a career as a lawyer? This is not a seminar on the law of the First Amendment, although it may affect our understanding of some of the controversies.
This seminar requires a series of short reflection and reaction papers which aim to facilitate thoughtful student participation in seminar discussions throughout the course. The final paper is not a research project, but a short engagement (about 8 pages) with a particular set of issues arising from across the range of topics covered in the course. This course does not satisfy the JD Upper Level Writing Requirement.
J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours
This interdisciplinary seminar will examine theories of justice and the relationship between law and morality in light of religious and theological visions of the good life and accounts of order. Materials and discussions will probe questions such as: What are the moral values underlying the law? How does the law achieve justice or fall short of this goal? How can moral judgments be brought to bear, if at all, in modern, secular legal institutions and in the formation of public policies?
Throughout the class we will have opportunities to consider how morality and ideas of justice shape, and are shaped by, contemporary legal problems such as: the legal regulation of sexual activity and marriage, controversies regarding federally mandated health insurance, abortion, euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, immigration, regulation of financial institutions, and/or other issues which emerge as topics of particular student interest.
Particular attention will be paid to understanding methods for dialogue across differing thought systems and disciplines and to developing the skills for communication across claims that would otherwise tend to generate religious and political polarization.
This seminar requires a series of short reflection and reaction papers which aim to facilitate thoughtful and active student participation in seminar discussions throughout the course. This course does not satisfy the JD Upper Level Writing Requirement.
LAW 1040 v01 Technology, Innovation and Access to the Civil Justice System (Project-Based Practicum)
J.D. Practicum (cross-listed) | 4 credit hours
In a project-based practicum course, students participate in a weekly seminar and work on a project under the supervision of their professors. This project-based practicum course will expose students to the varied uses of computer technologies in the practice of law, with an emphasis on technologies that enhance access to justice and make legal services more affordable for individuals of limited means. Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and carry out 10 hours/week of project work under the direction of the course professors.
SEMINAR: The seminar portion of the class is devoted to two topics: the access to justice crisis and the role of digital tools in bridging it. Among the issues we will discuss throughout the semester are: the extent of the justice gap, the economic and regulatory barriers to access, and the problem of resource constraints. We will also discuss how legal technologies are altering the landscape for persons of limited means and empowering disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and communities. The second topic is learning to design and develop legal expert systems. To create our systems, we use a software platform that does not require a coding background.
PROJECT WORK: Students will work in small teams for a legal service organization to develop a platform, application, or automated system that increases access to justice and/or improves the effectiveness of legal representation. These organizations include civil rights organizations, direct service providers, and other public interest organizations. The course culminates in a design competition: The Georgetown Iron Tech Lawyer Competition. Along the way, students learn systems logic, teamwork, and visual literacy skills. By the end of the semester, each team will have built a functional app intended for adoption by the participating legal services organization to put into use for its clients.
No programming background is required. Students are not required to have coding experience and will not be expected to learn to write software.
Students are encouraged to check out these apps created by Georgetown Law students in earlier semesters and in use at various organizations. They are also encouraged to contact Professor Rostain at (email@example.com) with questions.
Prerequisite: Students must complete the required first-year program prior to enrolling in this course (part-time and interdivisional transfer students may enroll prior to completing Criminal Justice, Property, or their first-year elective).
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for this practicum and Criminal Justice Technology, Policy, and Law (PROJECT-BASED PRACTICUM).Students may not concurrently enroll in this practicum course and a clinic. Students who wish to concurrently enroll in this course and another practicum course may only do so with the permission of Assistant Dean Rachel Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org), Professor Rostain (email@example.com), and the professor of the second practicum. Students may concurrently enroll in this practicum course and an externship.
Note: This course is suitable for evening students; project work does not need to be completed during business hours.This is a four credit course. Two credits will be awarded for the two-hour weekly seminar and two credits will be awarded for approximately 10 hours of supervised project work per week, for a minimum of 11 weeks. Both the seminar portion and the project work will be graded. Students who enroll in this course will be automatically enrolled in both the seminar and project components and may not take either component separately. After Add/Drop, a student who wishes to withdraw from a practicum course must obtain permission from the faculty member and the Assistant Dean for Experiential Education. The Assistant Dean will grant such withdrawal requests only when remaining enrolled in the practicum would cause significant hardship for the student. A student who is granted permission to withdraw will be withdrawn from both the seminar and project components. Default attendance rule for all practicum courses (unless the professor indicates otherwise): Regular and punctual attendance is required at all practicum seminars and fieldwork placements. Students in project-based practicum courses are similarly required to devote the requisite number of hours to their project. If a student must miss seminar, fieldwork, or project work, he or she must speak to the professor as soon as possible to discuss the absence. Unless the professor indicates otherwise, a student with more than one unexcused absence from the practicum seminar (out of 13 total seminar sessions), or one week of unexcused absences from the fieldwork or project work (out of a total of 11 weeks of fieldwork or project work), may receive a lower grade or, at the professor’s discretion, may be withdrawn from the practicum course.
J.D. Seminar | 3 credit hours
This seminar for graduate students and law students explores the major theories of the relationship between law and morality (including religious morality) and the way this relationship manifests in contemporary legal and political conflicts. Questions we will address include inquiry into the nature and purpose of law related to moral and ethical life and goals. What is the extent to which moral and religious culture and claims can (or ought) to shape the civil law? How does moral and religious pluralism and diversity affect the inclusion of moral claims into law and policy? Do the ideals of justice to which law and political institutions aim have objective or ontological status or are they more properly conceived as contingent and constructed? Can the authority of law be considered morally legitimate? When law and policy clash with moral and religious culture, which gives way to the other, and are there moral or legal principles for determining how to navigate and/or solve this conflict?
In the first part of the seminar, we will examine the representative theories of this relationship through close readings and discussion of works to include: classic and modern accounts of positivism and command theory in law, (including some attention to modern political theories about the purpose and limits upon political states); classic and contemporary views of natural law and its claims about the civil order; the debate between H.L.A. Hart and Lon Fuller over whether law has an intrinsic moral content; Catholic social teaching and Protestant political thought regarding the moral demands upon the political order; the debate between Hart and Lord Devlin over whether the law and political order may be utilized to sanction behavior on exclusively moral bases; American political thought about the Constitution and limits upon state power over individual (moral and religious) actions; and contemporary political theories about the demands of justice imposed upon political states in a global era.
In the latter part of the seminar, we will investigate three clusters of legal cases and political conflicts in which morality and religion appear as central components of the conflict: 1) the de-criminalization of certain modes of human sexuality and the recent debates over same sex marriage; 2) the clash over the contraception provisions of the Affordable Care Act and demands for religious accommodation; and 3) the relevance of moral and religious claims for legal debates over the efficacy/legitimacy of the death penalty.
A research paper will be the main requirement for the course, along with careful preparation for and participation in the seminar.
Note: Students must register for the 3 credit section of the seminar if they wish to write a paper fulfilling the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement. The paper requirements of the 2 credit section will not fulfill the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement.This course is cross-listed with the Government Department and meets on the main campus. Main campus courses begin Wednesday, January 11, 2017. The first meeting of this course will be Thursday, January 12, 2017 (before the Spring 2017 semester begins at the Law Center). Be aware this course may run on a different calendar than the Law Center during weeks where there is a holiday. Please take this into consideration when creating your schedule so that you have flexibility to attend the class on a different day, but at the same time. See the schedule of courses on the Main Campus Registrar’s website for room assignments. Law Center students may register only through the Law Center’s registration system.
J.D. Course | 1 credit hour
Week One Teaching Fellows work with faculty to facilitate the first-year Week One simulation courses offered in January. Fellows will work in teams of two to six fellows for their specific Week One class. More information, including course descriptions, are available on the Week One website. Teaching Fellows receive 1 pass/fail credit toward their Spring courseload.
Teaching Fellows meet at least twice (see below for meeting dates) with their faculty in the Fall semester to review the course topic, goals, and simulation structure, and to receive training on their role (readings will be assigned).
Fellows then attend all of the classroom sessions during Week One and assist in facilitating discussion and small-group work of first-year students. For example, fellows may moot students as they prepare for a mock oral argument or client presentation, or play the witness in a key witness interview. Fellows also meet and consult regularly with faculty during the course to discuss student progress and course logistics. At the conclusion of Week One, all fellows must complete a 6-8 page reaction paper assessing how the course worked, overall student experience, and how the course could be improved (legal issues, factual issues, structure of exercise, etc.).
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students who are enrolled in a Spring semester clinic should determine when any clinical meetings will take place during Week One to ensure there will be no conflict with their responsibilities as a fellow.
Note: THIS COURSE REQUIRES PROFESSOR PERMISSION TO ENROLL. Interested students must complete the online Week One Teaching Fellows Application Form to identify the Week One courses for which they would like to serve as a Teaching Fellow. A resume and a brief statement of interest must be provided. If you are having any difficulty accessing the application or have questions about the application process, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are due June 8, 2017. Students who apply after June 8 will be considered on a rolling and seat available basis.This course is open to upperclass J.D., LL.M., and S.J.D. students. WEEK ONE COURSE. This course will meet on the following days: Monday, January 8, 2018 through Thursday, January 11, 2018 during the classroom meeting times for the course to which the fellow has been assigned. Additionally, teaching fellows will meet with their professors on Sunday, December 3, 2017 and Sunday, January 7, 2018 (times TBD). Professors may schedule additional trainings as needed. This course is mandatory pass/fail and will not count toward the 7 credit pass/fail limit for J.D. students. This course does not count toward the Experiential course requirement. ATTENDANCE AT ALL CLASS SESSIONS IS MANDATORY. After accepting an offer, the student may drop the course ONLY with the permission of the professor. Permission is granted only where remaining enrolled in the course would cause significant hardship to the student.