Course Catalog Contents
- Advanced Criminal Procedure — L233
- Advanced Legal Analysis and Strategies: Bar Exam Multiple Choice — L347
- Advanced Legal Research: Essential Skills — L406T
- Advanced Legal Writing — L241
- Alternative Dispute Resolution — L235A
- Asylum & Refugee Law: Trial Skills — L647T
- Civil Rights in the 21st Century Seminar — L680
- Criminal Justice, Social Justice, and Community Justice — L243
- Death Penalty & the Law — L244A
- Demonstration Law Seminar — L461
- Education Law — L254
- Employment Discrimination — L245
- Employment Discrimination (Turbo) — L245T
- Entertainment Law Seminar — L232S
- Externship — L610/620
- Gender & Sexual Orientation Under the Law Seminar — L258
- Health Law Seminar — L257
- Immigration Law — L223
- Immigration Law Seminar — L223S
- Independent Study — L500/500A
- Intellectual Property Seminar — L232C
- International Human Rights — L234A
- International Law Seminar — L224
- Introduction to Critical Race Theory — L646
- Labor & Employment Law — L225
- Law & Justice Practicum — L106P
- Law Review — L400-402
- Legal Writing for Judicial Chambers — L264
- Mass Communications Law — L242
- Mock Trial Competition — L452
- Moot Court Competition — L451/451A
- Negotiations — L642/L642A
- Perspectives on Social Justice: Current Civil Rights Controversies Viewed in Context — L701E
- Perspectives on Social Justice: DC and Puerto Rico Statehood — L701D
- Perspectives on Social Justice: Immigrants’ Rights — L701F
- Perspectives on Social Justice: Law and Economy — L701B
- Perspectives on Social Justice: Legal Strategies for Economic Inclusion — L701H
- Perspectives on Social Justice: Race in America — L701G
- Perspectives on Social Justice: The Trailblazing Legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — L701J
- Race and the Law — L251A
- Race and the Law Seminar — L251
- Rights of Persons with Disabilities Seminar — L252A
- Service-Learning Practicum & Seminar — L360
- Social Security Disability Law — L643
- State & Local Government Law — L236
- System Change: Theory & Practice — L602
- Systems Change: Be a Changemaker — L645
- Trial Advocacy — L300A
See the Student Handbook for complete degree requirements.
[L100R] Legal Research (1 credit)
This course introduces students to the basic principles and processes of legal research. Students learn how to locate and use secondary sources, statutory law, case law, and regulations using free and subscription-based online resources.
[L101A] Torts I (3 credits)
This is a survey of basic tort law, including topics such as intentional torts, negligence, strict liability, and causation.
[L102] Civil Procedure I (3 credits)
This course is the first of a two courses that provide an introduction to the principles and rules governing the federal civil litigation process. After an overview of the civil justice system, the course focuses on jurisdictional issues addressing the proper court(s) in which an action may be filed.
[L103] Criminal Law (3 credits)
In this course, students are introduced to topics that include mens rea and actus reus, the elements of common law felonies and misdemeanors, and the principal defenses to criminal charges.
[L104] Contracts I (3 credits)
The required first semester Contracts I course covers key common law concepts including offer and acceptance, bargained for exchange, enforcement of promises on the theories of reliance and unjust enrichment, defenses to contract, conditions and terms, anticipatory repudiation and breach, and remedies. The course also introduces students to core competencies such as analyzing cases and applying narrow holdings to new facts.
[L105] Lawyering Process I (3 credits)
This course begins with an intensive look at the skills entering students need to learn faster and more effectively in the law school classroom. Students learn about the legal system, the lawyer’s role in that system, case briefing, case and statutory analysis, case synthesis, class preparation and note taking. In addition, students complete several writing assignments that enable them to receive early critical feedback. The course provides an in-depth understanding of legal reasoning, research and writing.
[L106/L106A] Law & Justice (1 credit)
Successful completion of this course, including its 40-hour community service requirement, is required only for those students who matriculated prior to Summer 2020. Law & Justice is an intensive one-week course focused on issues of justice, poverty law, affirmative action and other critical issues. At the conclusion of the classroom component, students provide 40 hours of community service in group or individual projects, under the supervision of faculty advisors.
[L107] Civil Procedure II (3 credits)
This course builds upon the foundation of Civil Procedure I, focusing on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure with particular attention to pleading, joinder, motions to dismiss and summary judgment, discovery, appeals, and the effect of prior judgments on litigation. Prerequisite: Civil Procedure I.
[L108] Criminal Procedure (3 credits)
This course introduces students to the individual rights created by the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments to the U. S. Constitution and to the enforcement of those rights by means of the exclusionary rule.
[L109] Contracts II (3 credits)
In the second semester, Contracts II introduces students to analysis of statutory law through intensive study and application of Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code, the primary law governing contracts for the sale of goods in the United States. The course also touches on Article 2A (Leases) and the Convention on the International Sale of Goods. Prerequisite: Contracts I.
[L110] Lawyering Process II (2 credits)
This course continues the development of the legal reasoning, research and writing skills introduced in Lawyering Process I. Frequent writing exercises emphasize the kinds of research and writing tasks lawyers must do every day, such as client letters, opinion letters, office memoranda, pleadings, motions, contracts and briefs. Students also are given opportunities to develop their advocacy skills through the argument of a simulated motion exercise and their bargaining skills through a simulated negotiation exercise. Prerequisite: Lawyering Process I.
[L201] Constitutional Law I (4 credits)
This course is designed to introduce students to the structure, text, history and application of the U.S. Constitution. The course covers the nature and scope of judicial review, legislative and executive power, and the Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.
[L202] Evidence (4 credits)
This course surveys key provisions of the Federal Rules of Evidence, including relevance, hearsay, impeachments, and authentication of documents. It also looks at common law privileges. The course emphasizes conveying to students a functional knowledge of the rules of evidence.
[L203] Professional Responsibility (2 credits)
This course examines the ethical problems implicit in the role of the legal profession in a democratic society governed by the rule of law. Topics include the lawyer-client relationship, duties to the court, conflicts of interest, confidentiality, delivery of legal services, and disciplinary rules and mechanisms.
[L204A] Property I (3 credits)
This required course is an introduction to the law of property. Topics include the acquisition of property, possessory estates, future interests, co-ownership, and marital interests.
[L205] Constitutional Law II (4 credits)
In this course, students will examine the sources, history and applications of the major areas of constitutional law which involve our “rights and liberties.” These areas of law include Equal Protection, Substantive Due Process and fundamental liberty interests, Procedural Due Process, and the First Amendment. The course uses a combination of methods, including a modified Socratic method, lectures, and class discussions; classes involve recitations by students of fact patterns, holdings, and implications of assigned case readings in give and take interchanges with the instructor.
[L227A] Property II (3 credits)
This required course is an introduction to the law of property. Topics include leasehold estates, landlord tenant law, land transactions, recording systems, and the law of servitudes, zoning, and eminent domain. Prerequisite: Property I.
[L231A] Torts II / Products Liability (3 credits)
Torts II continues the basic survey of liability for civil wrongs other than breach of contract. Students will study the reasons why and the circumstances under which courts will hold manufacturers and merchants liable for harms caused by products and services. The survey will also include study of such torts as misrepresentation, invasion of privacy, and civil rights violations. This area of law is tested on many bar examinations. Prerequisite: Torts I.
[L342] Legal and Bar Success Foundations (3 credits)
This is a comprehensive course for graduating students in their final semester of law school. The course is focused directly toward driving student achievement on the bar exam by working to build critical exam skills. The course will be delivered in a series of focused lessons which include a brief refresher on a subject followed by a skills workshop on that topic. Students will learn through practicing essays and multiple choice exam questions, and will receive detailed written feedback on their answers.
[L450] Moot Court (2 credits)
This course covers the appellate process and continues the development of legal research, analysis, and writing skills begun in the Lawyering Process courses. Students are provided with a case on appeal and prepare a written appellate brief for one side. At the end of the semester, they present an oral argument in that case. Prerequisites: Lawyering Process I and II, Legal Research.
[LLAB] 1L Lab (0 credits)
1L Lab is a required non-credit, pass-fail course for first-semester 1L students. This course links the oral, written and legal analysis skills associated with the core competencies to the substantive law that is taught in first year courses. The lab sessions focus on skills needed for success in law school, including class preparation (reading and briefing cases and statutes, strategies for understanding legal terminology, note-taking and the importance of reflection; and exam preparation (synthesizing, preparing an outline and a problem-solving attack plan, and written communication skills such as responding to essay questions).
[LLAB2] Lab II
First-year students with a first semester grade point average (SGPA) below 2.5 must enroll in Lab II or another course designated by the Director of the Academic Success Program in the second semester.
[LLAB3] Lab III
Second-year students with a first year cumulative grade point average (CGPA) below 2.5 must enroll in Lab III or another course designated by the Director of the Academic Success Program in the fall semester of their second year.
Students are required to choose at least three courses from the following Core courses. See the Student Handbook for complete degree requirements.
[L206] Business Organizations I (3 credits)
This course focuses primarily on the organization, operation, and dissolution of unincorporated business entities. It covers the basic legal and economic principles governing the law of agency-principal relationships, partnerships, limited partnerships, joint ventures and limited liability companies. NOT a prerequisite for Business Organizations II.
[L207] Business Organizations II (3 credits)
This course continues the study of business relationships begun in Business Organization I. It focuses on the basic legal and economic principles related to the organization, operation, and dissolution of corporations, with a significant emphasis on issues and problems of closely held corporations and federal corporate law issues. This area of law is tested on many bar examinations. Business Organizations I is not a prerequisite, but is recommended.
[L208] Administrative Law (3 credits)
This course examines the role of the administrative branch of government in the legal system. In particular, it explores the nature and scope of the power of administrative agencies and the restraints on administrative power imposed by the Constitution, statutes and the common law. Topics include the delegation of power to administrative agencies, administrative investigations, the right to be heard, formal and informal decision making processes and procedures, administrative adjudication and rule-making, and judicial review of administrative actions.
[L209] Wills and Estates (3 credits)
This course examines the rules governing intestate and testate distribution of property and the execution, alteration and revocation of wills. The course also covers the creation of both public and private trusts, rights of beneficiaries, and responsibilities of fiduciaries. Students also are exposed to the modern alternatives of the living trust and the living will. Prerequisite: Property I.
[L210/L210A] Commercial Law I / Uniform Commercial Code I (3 or 4 credits)
This course presents an integrated study of the law governing modern commercial transactions under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), a broad collection of laws tested on many bar exams. The 3-credit version focuses primarily on Article 2 (sales) and Article 9 (secured transactions), the UCC topics tested most frequently on the Uniform Bar Examination. The 4-credit version adds coverage of Article 3 (negotiable instruments), Article 4 (bank deposits) and Article 4A (funds transfer). Prerequisites: Contracts I and II.
[L212] Federal Taxation / Taxation I (3 credits)
Whether rich or poor, citizen or non-citizen, all persons are impacted by U.S. Federal Tax Laws. What you do for a living has tax consequences – earning a living as a corporate executive, a ride sharing driver, or restaurant server. What happens in your personal life has tax consequences – getting married or divorced, having children, incurring student debt for school, defaulting on debt, selling or buying property, and receiving gifts. The Federal Tax system is becoming increasingly complex and that makes it difficult to navigate the system for those who cannot afford accountants and tax lawyers, or who are poor or uneducated or for whom English is not a first language to navigate the system. In this course you will learn the basic concept of Federal tax law under the Internal Revenue Code as well as an individual taxpayer’s rights and obligations. You will also learn the skill of how to carefully read a statute and apply it. We may discuss the policy reasons for choices Congress and Courts have made in adopting certain tax rules. Upon successful completion of the course the student will be able to understand the workings of Federal Tax system, identify tax issues in underlying transactions, and advise clients or understand how to find answers to issues raised.
[L214/L214A] Family Law (2 or 3 credits)
This course examines relationships of adults and children from political, economic, and social welfare perspectives. Students will analyze a wide variety of subject areas with a view towards understanding the balance between state involvement and the individual’s or family’s rights to privacy in the areas of domestic relations. The course surveys developments in the law relating to marriage, divorce, child custody and support, alimony, division of property, and other issues affecting familial relationships. In addition, course materials address the relationships between children, adults and the state concerning domestic violence, child neglect and abuse, adoption, the foster care system, kinship care, reproductive rights, nontraditional family relationships, and new biomedical technologies. This area of law is tested on many bar examinations.
[L216] Federal Courts (3 credits)
This course addresses the constitutional and statutory provisions–as well as the jurisdictional doctrines and concepts–that shape and limit the role played by the federal courts in the American legal system. Subjects covered include the origins of federal judicial review, Congressional power to curtail federal jurisdiction, limitations on the ability of the federal courts to enjoin state court proceedings, and requirements for U.S. Supreme Court review of lower federal and state court judgments. This area of law is tested on many bar examinations.
[L217] Remedies (3 credits)
This course is organized as a case survey and study of various remedies available to those who have suffered wrongs for which others are held civilly liable. Students examine a range of topics: monetary remedies; the various means of measuring money damages; injunctive, declaratory remedies; and restitutionary claims and remedies. The course covers the availability of such remedies in a variety of tort, contract, and property contexts.
[L219] Conflict of Laws (3 credits)
Three main areas are covered in this course: 1) jurisdiction; 2) choice of law; and (3) enforcement of judgments. Jurisdiction addresses the authority of the forum court to issue binding decisions against or for out-of-state parties. Choice of law concerns determination of which state’s or country’s laws must apply in a multi-state or international dispute. Finally, enforcement of judgment deals with the effect of a judgment rendered in one jurisdiction beyond the boundaries of that jurisdiction. These subjects are tested on many bar examinations and are also of practical importance in civil litigation practice.
Students, please see Clinic Guidelines for each clinic’s prerequisites, conflict of interest and student practice rules.
[L900/L950] Housing and Consumer Law Clinic (7 or 10 credits) (ALWR Opportunity*)
This clinic introduces students to civil and administrative litigation in the housing and consumer areas. Students act as counsel in civil and administrative forums. Students may appear in court and must be eligible for certification pursuant to D.C. Court of Appeals Rule 48.
[L901A/L951A] Tax Clinic (7 or 10 credits) (ALWR Opportunity*)
UDC Law’s Tax Clinic provides students with hands-on experience representing taxpayers with active tax controversies before the IRS, in U.S. Tax Court and, in limited instances, state tax agencies. Students primarily represent low income, Metro DC residents. Tax Clinic students assist in a wide range of matters, including claiming family-based tax credits, resolving tax return audits, and addressing the denial or suspension of tax refunds. Students may work on federal and DC tax policy matters, as well as conduct community outreach and assist in the delivery of technical tax advice to community organizations. Tax Clinic students may also have the opportunity to conduct tax outreach events in the community to advise District residents of their rights and responsibilities. Outreach events are often conducted in immigrant communities, intended to address the unique needs of ESL taxpayers. Classroom work includes coverage of relevant tax doctrine, tax practice and procedure, and tax policy issues. Tax Clinic faculty closely supervise student practice and prepare students to interview and counsel clients in order to provide effective and ethical legal representation. The Tax Clinic prepares participating students for tax litigation, poverty law practice, and policy work.
[L902B/L952B/L950E] Youth Justice Clinic (7 or 10 credits) (ALWR Opportunity*)
FALL 2021 CLINIC: There will be a 10-credit evening section and 7-credit day section of this clinic offered in Fall 2021. Please refer to the Youth Justice Clinic page for descriptions of each section.
Students in this clinic will develop important lawyering and other skills representing children, youthful offenders, parents/guardians, or other interested stakeholders in delinquency appeals, sentencing challenges, or other cases or causes that present youth justice issues. The clinic’s work seeks to supplement traditional juvenile court delinquency representation with a range of advocacy efforts in various venues to address the special needs, vulnerabilities, and capacities of youth. Clinic students handle various aspects of advocacy and representation, such as: drafting appellate briefs and other litigation-related documents; developing and implementing case strategies and plans; engaging with clients, parents/guardians, and youth justice partners; negotiating with adversaries and others; and advancing youth-centered arguments in appellate courts and other settings.
[L903A/L953A] Whistleblower Protection Clinic (7 credits) (ALWR Opportunity*)
The Whistleblower Protection Clinic (formerly called the Government Accountability Project Clinic) introduces students to the law and skills required to provide policy advocacy and representation (both to defend against retaliation and to make a difference) for government and private employees who are threatened with retaliation for speaking out against fraud, waste, mismanagement, abuse of authority, environmental dangers, and public health and safety problems. The clinic involves students in work on administrative hearings, appeals, congressional testimony, media involvement, investigations, development of record, and legal research on the track record of whistleblower laws.
[L905/L955] Legislation Clinic (7 or 10 credits) (ALWR Opportunity*)
The Legislation Clinic trains students to be effective legislative lawyers, who are skilled in working with text, law, policy, and politics to help achieve legislative or regulatory reform and develop thoughtful public policy. The Clinic’s seminar focuses on relevant substantive law, processes (such as how legislation is enacted and regulations are promulgated on the local and federal levels), ethics (such as system reform obligations, lobbying restrictions, and working with groups), and skills (such as client counseling, oral advocacy, legislative research, and drafting policy materials like talking points, bills, or white papers). The field experience complements the seminar component by providing students the opportunity to represent the community and community-based organizations under faculty supervision on employment, gender, and other social justice policy projects.
[L906/L956] Community Development Law Clinic (7 or 10 credits) (ALWR Opportunity*)
The Community Development Law Clinic (CDLC) focuses on transactional (or non-litigation based) advocacy skills. The clinic’s clients are organizations involved in affordable housing development, small business development and community services, such as childcare. In their field work, students will serve in the capacity of corporate counsel to the clients, advising and assisting them in a wide range of concerns, which may include choice of entity, organizational structure, tax status, fiduciary duty of corporate officers and directors, regulatory compliance, government programs, financing and contractual relations. The clinic emphasizes transactional-based lawyering skills, including problem solving, client interviewing and counseling, negotiation, legal research and legal drafting. Trial practice skills are not addressed in this clinic. The clinic will also cover substantive law and policy related to the subject matter presented by the cases. In the small business component of the clinic, students represent small D.C. business enterprises in need of free legal services. Students advise clients on business structures, prepare articles of incorporation, bylaws, advise clients regarding basic tax law, zoning, licensing requirements; and mediate business disputes.
[L910/L912] Immigration & Human Rights Clinic (7 or 10 credits) (ALWR Opportunity*)
Students in the Immigration & Human Rights Clinic learn about the specialized area of immigration law with a particular focus on removal defense in immigration court and asylum representation. Students represent clients under the supervision of the clinic director. In addition to attending the required twice-weekly seminar, students meet in teams with their supervisor and participate in case rounds. Students represent clients at interviews with immigration officials and/or litigate in Immigration Court or the Board of Immigration Appeals. The Clinic advocates for clients living in Washington, DC, and the greater metropolitan area and focuses on cases before the Arlington immigration court and Arlington asylum office. Students in the clinic will gain substantive expertise in humanitarian immigration law, build critical interviewing skills, develop fact investigation, engage in legal analysis and legal writing, along with oral advocacy before the asylum office and/or in immigration court. The Clinic aims to stand beside clients and advocate using trauma-informed, client-centered, and critical lawyering.
[L920/L921] Criminal Law Clinic (7 credits) (ALWR Opportunity*)
Students in the the Criminal Law Clinic participate alongside students from other D.C. law schools in the Criminal Defense Clinic at Rising for Justice (formerly D.C. Law Students in Court). Students in the Criminal Defense Clinic represent defendants in misdemeanor cases in the District of Columbia Superior Court and juveniles charged with all but the most serious offenses. Under the guidance and supervision of experienced trial attorneys, students are responsible for all aspects of client representation such as conducting fact investigation and legal research, writing and arguing motions, engaging in pretrial discovery, trying cases, negotiating plea agreements and assisting clients with probation revocations, where applicable. Through reading assignments, mock hearings, reflection, and actual representation, students learn how to develop a case theory and the skills needed for outstanding representation.
[L940/L941/L940E] General Practice Clinic (7 or 10 credits) (ALWR Opportunity*)
FALL 2021 CLINIC: There will be a 10-credit evening section and 7-credit day section of this clinic offered in Fall 2021. Please refer to the General Practice Clinic page for descriptions of each section.
The General Practice Clinic focuses on representing and advocating for survivors of domestic violence. Student attorneys will take on a mix of advocacy projects in the DC legal community and direct client representation in family law litigation cases. Student attorneys will work in teams, under the supervision of clinic faculty, to engage as the primary legal team on their client or advocacy work. Students engaged in litigation will prepare each stage of the litigation process, including drafting pleadings, preparing pre-trial motions and discovery, negotiating with opposing parties or counsel, and, when applicable, bringing the case to trial. Students working on advocacy projects will be in direct discussion with stakeholders, working to make a concrete impact on improving access to justice for survivors. In the clinic seminar, students will develop the legal skills and knowledge necessary to complete their case and project work, including client interviewing and counseling, client-centered lawyering, professional responsibility and ethics, negotiation skills, evidence, and components of trial practice. Students will also have opportunities to reflect on and discuss, as a law firm, their experiences in case and project work, and will work together to refine their approach to legal problem-solving, decision-making, and the exercise of professional judgment.
[L911-L999] Independent, Extended & Elective Clinics (1-10 credits) (ALWR Opportunity*)
Independent, Extended & Elective Clinics for one or more credits may be arranged based upon completion of an Elective/Extended Clinic Form and approval by the clinic supervisor and Associate Dean for Experiential & Clinical Programs. Please note that Independent, Extended & Elective Clinics may not be used to satisfy UDC Law’s clinic graduation requirement. Students should refer to the Student Handbook, e.g. Sections 1.5, 1.6.2., 3.3, and 4.4, regarding enrollment in additional/non-required clinic credits.
Elective courses may not be offered every year.
[L106P] Law & Justice Practicum (2 credits)
As graduates of DC’s public law school, many of you will choose a career in public interest law here in DC, as change agents on commissions, as legislative staff, as agency personnel, as organizers and program positions in government and non-profits – and eventually as judges and leaders of agencies and organizations. This 2-credit elective class, requiring 20 hours of community service, is an opportunity to expand your experiential learning about the many facets of public interest law while gaining useful frameworks for making choices that will influence your future career. The class is open as an elective to all students except 1L’s. If you entered prior to Summer 2020 and have not yet completed the 40-hour Law & Justice Community Service graduation requirement, this course also offers you the opportunity to do so. To earn credit for both courses, you must have completed 60 hours total of community service.
[L223] Immigration Law (3 credits)
This course covers basic immigration law through the casebook method. Interwoven with the casebook approach is a substantial amount of lecturing devoted to the practical aspects of practicing immigration law. Historical perspectives relating to policies and legislation are provided. Depending on the semester, students enrolled in Immigration Law may have the option of enrolling in an additional one-credit practicum.
[L223S] Immigration Law Seminar (2 credits) (RALWR Opportunity for 1 additional credit*)
This seminar provides a survey of immigration law to encourage critical thinking about what our immigration policies should be. Topics are presented primarily from a practitioner’s perspective to provide a concrete understanding of the immigration process. These issues concern not only whom we should welcome but whom we should expel and the procedures by which the government seeks to remove them. Students will complete this seminar with an understanding of nonimmigrant visas, family-based and employment-based immigration benefits, and naturalization. Additional focus will be placed on humanitarian immigration programs such as asylum, the U.S. Refugee Program, and trafficking-related benefits. The syllabus and discussions may be adjusted to respond to current events, such as legislative developments regarding immigration reform, and the expressed interests of the students. The readings, exercises, and discussions are also designed to provide background and to generate ideas for the writing of an original paper. This paper will provide the student with an opportunity to undertake research, engage in critical legal thinking, analysis, and drafting. The completion of a paper, which can be certified for the Research and Legal Analysis Writing Requirement (RALWR), is a goal of the seminar.
[L224] International Law Seminar (2 credits) (RALWR Opportunity*)
This course will examine the nature and sources of international law, the law of treaties, the role of international law in municipal law, international dispute settlement, the status of individuals and states in international law, and the role of the United Nations and international organizations.
[L225] Labor & Employment Law (3 credits)
This course covers the theoretical and practical components of how the workplace is regulated in the United States. It focuses on statutory and judicial language that covers aspects of the employment relationship. Topics include: employment-at-will labor standards such as wage payment, overtime, family and medical leave, and accommodations; privacy; duty of loyalty; termination of employment and related issues like restrictive covenants, unemployment insurance, and reductions in force; occupational safety and health; retaliation; and mandatory arbitration.
[L232C] Intellectual Property Seminar (2 credits)
This survey course will present an introduction to the four types of intellectual property: copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. The course will provide an understanding of the fundamental principles of the bodies of lP Law, their underlying policies, and their real-life applications. Technological advancements and public policy considerations that impact intellectual property law will also be discussed. The course will also examine the substantive and procedural elements of infringement actions and their defenses.
[L232S] Entertainment Law Seminar (2 credits) (RALWR Opportunity*)
This course will focus on legal and business issues faced by individuals and organizations working in art and entertainment fields and creative industries. The class will address complex legal issues influencing the information economy, providing an overview of copyright, trademark, contract, First Amendment, and tort issues that affect artists and arts organizations. Prerequisites: Contracts I and II. Enrollment is limited to twenty students. Students may work with the professor to write a seminar paper that will satisfy the Research and Legal Analysis Writing Requirement (RALWR).
[L233] Advanced Criminal Procedure (2 credits)
This course follows the procedures of a criminal case from arrest to appeal. Particular emphasis is given to grand jury, joinder and severance, refinements of double jeopardy, and jury deliberation. Strongly recommended for third-year students only. This area of law is tested on many bar examinations. Prerequisites: Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure.
[L234A] International Human Rights (2 credits) (RALWR Opportunity*)
This course will examine the nature and sources of international human rights law; its interrelation to international law; the law of treaties; international conventions and covenants; and the role of the United Nations and international organizations in the protection of human rights. The syllabus and discussions may be adjusted to reflect current events shaping international human rights such as the detention of foreign nationals or death penalty issues. The culminating exercise of this course will provide the student with the opportunity to conduct research, legal analysis, critical thinking, and the drafting of a paper, which can be certified for the Research and Legal Analysis Writing Requirement (RALWR).
[L235A] Alternative Dispute Resolution (3 credits)
This course will introduce and critically examine the theoretical and historical underpinnings of the major dispute resolution alternatives to conventional litigation and adjudication, with primary concentration on negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. Through the use of written and experiential exercises, simulations, and role-plays, students will be exposed to the skills and practices employed in the implementation of these processes. Issues of ethics, law and policy that are implicated and involved in the choice and implementation of these alternative processes also will be examined.
[L236] State & Local Government Law (3 credits plus optional 1 credit practicum)
The course explores state and local government with an emphasis on the unique history and basis of the District of Columbia’s constitutional status, and the District’s still evolving path to Home Rule. We will compare the role of states like Virginia and Maryland to the District’s various roles as a federal agency, federal territory, a state-, county-, and city-level government, and as a social laboratory for Congress. We will focus on debate concerning the lack of voting representation in Congress for the residents of the District and for those federal territories, and the related civil rights issues, international law issues, and implications for democracy. We will meet with the lawyers who filed the 2020 federal case and amicus briefs seeking voting representation in the House of Representatives and the Senate for the District of Columbia. We will also examine attempts to achieve District statehood including the Tennessee plan, the 2016 advisory referendum on the state of New Columbia, the 2016 constitutional convention, and the status of the 2019 Washington DC Admission Act introduced by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and passed June 26, 2020 by the House of representatives, which would make the District the 51st state, and the constitutionality of such efforts. We will review progress made in 2019 toward budget and legislative autonomy; whether and to what extent there should be federal control over local law enforcement issues; ethics and electoral reform in the District and another state and local jurisdictions and the role of state and local governments in enforcing criminal laws and in protecting consumers. We will meet with DC attorney general Karl Racine and with other DC officials. We will also meet with the lawyers who filed the recent case Black Lives Matter v. Trump, challenging the constitutionality of the police actions taken against peaceful protesters at Lafayette Square on June 1, 2020 just prior to the president’s photo opportunity at Saint John’s church. Consistent class attendance and preparation is required. Students enrolled in State and Local Government for three credits have the option of enrolling in an additional one-credit practicum. The optional practicum component provides an opportunity for students to work in DC Government or public interest organizations on emerging public policy questions involving DC Democracy or the work of the blue ribbon DC Taskforce on Jails and Justice chaired by Professor Broderick.
[L241] Advanced Legal Writing (2 credits) (RALWR Opportunity*)
This course will reinforce and deepen students’ understanding of the research, writing and analysis “basics” gleaned from Lawyering Process and Moot Court, and it will require students to exercise critical thinking skills by engaging in substantial depth of analysis, reflection and revision through a series of discrete, rigorous writings. Students will prepare writings such as letters to clients (or opposing attorneys or third parties), office memoranda, and court memoranda. The evaluation of these writings will focus upon principles of organization, analysis and style. The syllabus of the course may also incorporate significant amounts of drafting, including documents such as statutes and regulations, contracts, interrogatories, and wills. The class size will be limited to provide opportunities for individualized attention, meaningful oral and written feedback on assignments, and heightened peer interaction. Some assignments will be rewritten, and some will be submitted in various forms, (such as outline, summary, first draft, and final draft). Students may also be required to submit research journals, although the journals will not necessarily be graded. The course will employ individual in-class exercises, collaborative group work, and role-playing. The rhetorical situation will also be emphasized, with students focusing on the audience, purpose, and tone appropriate to the different types of legal writing. Enrollment is limited to 15 students; preference given to third-year students. Prerequisites: Lawyering Process I and II, Legal Research, and Moot Court.
[L242] Mass Communications Law (2 credits) (RALWR Opportunity for 1 additional credit*)
This seminar course commences with an overview of the philosophical and constitutional foundations of free expression and examines areas such as defamation, privacy, various newsgathering and related torts, access to government information, and the role of media in a democratic society. Enrollment is limited.
[L243] Criminal Justice, Social Justice, and Community Justice (2 credits) (RALWR Opportunity*)
This seminar examines recent developments in criminal justice policy and practice. Seminar students will research and discuss issues such as restorative justice, specialty courts, victims’ rights, immigration enforcement, jury nullification, juvenile justice, community policing, indigent defense, “innocence projects,” the collateral consequences of incarceration, the role of prosecutors and defense lawyers, and other subjects that explore the impact of criminal justice policies on society. The course explores both the role of legal institutions in incorporating a vision of social justice, as well as examines the lawyer’s role as a social justice advocate within the criminal justice system. The goal is that by the end of the class each student should have an understanding of the developing issues in criminal practice as well as a solid grounding in the interaction between criminal law and public policy. The seminar provides the opportunity to conduct research, legal analysis, critical thinking and reflection, and the writing of a paper that can be certified for the Research and Legal Analysis Writing Requirement (RALWR).
In Spring 2022 semester, the professor plans to hold at least some class sessions at a local juvenile detention center or other youth-serving institution, to include young people in discussions, learn together about how the criminal and juvenile legal systems impact young people in our community, and all emerge from the course as more engaged and knowledgeable advocates. The further goal of this unique feature of the seminar is to potentially establish longer term mentoring relationships and encourage our youthful course colleagues to consider college – and possibly law school – as a future goal.
[L244A] Death Penalty & the Law (3 credits) (RALWR Opportunity*)
The course will examine the administration of capital punishment in the United States and the systemic problems that lead to wrongful convictions. The course will also examine policy reforms to prevent wrongful convictions creating a more fair and accurate criminal justice system.
[L245] Employment Discrimination (3 credits)
This course covers the theoretical and practical components of workplace anti-discrimination protections. It focuses on federal laws that prevent employers from taking adverse actions against applicants and employees on the basis of membership in a statutorily defined group (including race, color, religion, sex, national origin, citizenship status, disability, age, and military status), or from implementing a facially neutral policy that has a disparate impact on a statutorily defined group.
[L245T] Employment Discrimination (1 credit)
Claims of employment discrimination have exponentially increased in recent years. Civil rights statutes, however, only offer limited protections to applicants, employees, or employers. This turbo course will introduce students to the reasons behind this new reality, including a discussion about the promises and challenges of federal civil rights laws that address workplace discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, and military status. It will offer a high-level overview of the available statutory coverage, rights, remedies, and enforcement processes as well as the realities of practicing in this space.
[L251] Race and the Law Seminar (2 credits) (RALWR Opportunity*)
This course analyzes the socio-legal construction of race in America. In addition, this course explores how race relates to the issues of: 1) equal protection: 2) education; 3) freedom of expression; and 4) crime. Finally, this course analyzes different responses to racism, including legal challenges and nonviolent resistance.
[L251A] Race and the Law (3 credits)
This course examines the political, economic and social history of racism and its impact on American law. Although the scope encompasses traditional areas (e.g. Reconstruction and Civil Rights), there is a substantial emphasis on modern and emerging paradigms including, but not limited to, the Prison Industrial Complex, Critical Race Theory and a Hip-Hop Theory of Justice. Depending on the semester, students enrolled in Race and the Law may have the option of enrolling in an additional one-credit practicum.
[L252A] Rights of Persons with Disabilities Seminar (2 credits) (RALWR Opportunity for 1 additional credit*)
This course explores disability law, justice, and theory. It covers the promise, coverage, and failure of existing federal and state statutes, with a focus on the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (as amended by the ADA Amendments Act), and the Individual with Disabilities Education Act. Finally, it explores this in the context of disability and employment, education, public accommodations, institutionalization, government benefits/services, pandemic response, and personal autonomy.
[L254] Education Law (3 credits)
This course focuses on the laws that govern America’s primary and secondary schools (K-12) and higher education institutions (e.g., colleges and universities) and the interrelationship between these laws. Topics include campus safety issues and related efforts to protect freedom of expression and student privacy in that context, parameters of the right to equal educational opportunity and related efforts to increase equal access to education for all students, and rights of educators in the interrelated areas of labor relations, tenure, dismissal, and academic freedom.
[L257] Health Law Seminar (2 credits)
This seminar course will provide an overview of the healthcare system and its financing in the United States. The course will familiarize students with how the legal system affects disparities in healthcare. Students will be asked to examine strategies designed to reduce healthcare disparities including the ones recently highlighted by the Covid 19 pandemic.
[L258] Gender and Sexual Orientation Under the Law Seminar (2 credits) (RALWR Opportunity*)
This course covers constitutional, statutory, and judicial concepts of privacy, equality, and expression as applied to classifications based on sex, gender, sexuality, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity at work, school, and home. Topics may include criminal and civil laws governing sex-based discrimination, gender-based violence, family formations, reproductive rights, suffrage, trafficking, prostitution, sodomy, military exclusions, and other systems.
[L264] Legal Writing for Judicial Chambers (2 credits)
Legal Writing for Judicial Chambers is a capstone legal writing course designed to teach students the skills necessary for effective judicial clerkships. Through a series of writing assignments, students will deepen their legal analysis skills and learn the techniques of judicial writing. Although the course may be of particular interest to students who plan to serve as judicial clerks following law school graduation, the course should appeal to any student who is interested in learning about how judges decide cases and about the attributes of effective written opinions. Furthermore, the writing and editing skills students develop through their work in this course should be helpful in all kinds of legal writing. By the end of the course, students should improve in the areas of legal research, legal analysis, and writing. This course is both intellectually challenging and practical. In addition to learning this unique style of writing, students interested in working in judges’ chambers may have real-world questions about judicial clerkships. For this reason, the course includes guest lectures from law clerks and judges about clerking for a judge and judges’ expectations for law clerks generally.
[L300A] Trial Advocacy (1-4 credits)
In Spring 2022, Trial Advocacy will be offered in two parts on a modified schedule. Part 1 Intro to Trial Advocacy may be taken alone for one credit. The Part 1 Intro is a prerequisite for Part 2 Advanced Trial Advocacy, for which students may earn a second credit. This course has limited enrollment.
Part 1 Intro to Trial Advocacy: This introductory trial skills course will be offered for 1-credit over the course of five weekends. The course will focus on courtroom lawyering basics such as trial/hearing theory, direct and cross examination, making and responding to objections, refreshing recollection and impeachment skills, and use/introduction of exhibits. It will be taught through a combination of traditional lectures, student presentation, classroom demonstrations, videos, and exercises. Prerequisites: First-Year Curriculum and Evidence.
Part 2 Advanced Trial Advocacy: This advanced trial skills course will be offered for 1-credit over the course of five evenings during Spring Break. This course allows students to further refine basic skills they developed in Part 1 Intro to Trial Advocacy. It will introduce students to opening/closing arguments, the significance of burdens of persuasion and proof, and applying law to facts in the litigation context. It will further offer the “advanced” experience of a multi-day evidentiary hearing or bench trial. Prerequisites: Part 1 Intro to Trial Advocacy (or permission of instructor based upon an introductory trial skills course/experience that is not unduly duplicative).
[L347] Advanced Legal Analysis and Strategies: Bar Exam Multiple Choice (2 credits)
This course will expose students to best practices and strategies associated with bar exam multiple-choice test-taking. The course will also provide students with an opportunity to focus specifically on this test form and review certain bar exam subjects in the process. This will provide a solid foundation for students as they prepare for taking a bar exam post-graduation. Prerequisites: Contracts I and II, Civil Procedure I and II, Torts I and II, Criminal Law, and Criminal Procedure. Ideally taken the year before the final year of law school (i.e. 2L Day or 3L Evening).
[L360] Service-Learning Practicum & Seminar (3 credits)
The Service-Learning Practicum & Seminar is a 3-credit course which consists of a seminar and a Spring Break service trip. During and after the service trip, students will reflect on their experiences through journaling or making a video (either individually or as a team project). Students will also produce work products during the service week, and together they will present a “Report-Back” event to the student body and faculty. The locations of our service-learning trips might change from year to year, but they will be in areas where long-term social justice problems need addressing, whether from a recent disaster, man-made or natural, or due to a history of poverty and civil rights abuses. UDC Law’s Service-Learning program has become well-known nationally for our “legal justice peace corps.” Working together, we engage in experiences that enrich learning by integrating meaningful community and humanitarian service with instruction and reflection. In the Seminar sessions, we discuss different models of social justice lawyering, professional ethics, the role of lawyers in assisting people and communities in crisis, as well as legal topics we will be working on during the trips. Enrollment is limited. Students wishing to take this course should register for it as soon as possible once registration opens.
[L400-L402] Law Review (1-4 credits)
Please see Section 3.4 of the Student Handbook for Law Review guidelines.
[L406T] Advanced Legal Research: Essential Skills (1 credit)
This course is intended to develop research skills beyond the basic competencies of Introduction to Legal Research. Topics covered include a deep dive into the legal research process, statutory research, legislative history research, advanced case law research techniques, administrative law research, and practice-focused secondary sources. Students will gain hands-on, guided legal research experience using a variety of online resources. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to apply learned skills to conduct comprehensive, efficient legal research on a wide range of topics. Prerequisites: Lawyering Process I and II and Legal Research. Completion of Moot Court is encouraged but not required. Students may receive credit for only one Advanced Legal Research course, L406 or L406T.
[L451/L451A] Moot Court Competition (1 credit in fall, 1 credit in spring)
The Moot Court Competition class prepares students for moot court competitions and appellate practice more generally. The class augments the written and oral advocacy skills students acquire in Lawyering Process and Moot Court courses. During the Fall Semester, students focus on various facets of written appellate advocacy, including drafting their respective moot court competition briefs. During the Spring Semester, students will focus on oral appellate advocacy, and prepare oral arguments for their moot court competitions. By the end of the course, students will have further developed the skills and confidence required to practice law at the appellate level. All students are required to participate in an external moot court competition to earn credit for the course.
[L452] Mock Trial Competition (1 credit in fall, 1 credit in spring)
The Mock Trial Competition course prepares students for mock trial competitions and strengthens litigation skills through applying legal reasoning and argument in the context of trial advocacy. The course is an experiential practice class in which students will participate in trial skill exercises, mock trial simulations, and, ultimately, participate in an external mock trial competition. During the Fall semester, students will focus on learning and strengthening courtroom advocacy skills and will begin the process of preparing for an external mock trial competition. During the Spring semester, students will continue to prepare for a mock trial competition and then compete in at least one mock trial competition. In order to earn credit for the course, students are required to compete in an external mock trial competition, maintain and submit trial preparation materials, and assist with the training of their teammates through feedback and mooting sessions.
[L461] Demonstration Law Seminar (2 credits plus optional 1 credit practicum)
The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law … abridging … the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” But like all other constitutional rights, the right to demonstrate is not absolute. This course will examine the who, what, when, where, why, and how of demonstrations, including public forum analysis, regulations of time, place and manner, rights of counter-demonstrators, permit systems, civil disobedience, demonstrations on private property, and more. Students enrolled in Demonstration Law for two credits have the option of enrolling in an additional one-credit practicum. The optional practicum component provides an opportunity for students to work with DC government or public interest organizations in the District of Columbia that are engaged in protecting or preserving the rights of demonstrators.
[L500/L500A] Independent Study (1-2 credits) (RALWR Opportunity*)
Students may register for Independent Study by submitting an Independent Study Registration Form and a detailed proposal for approval to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. The proposal must describe the work that will be done, the material that will be studied, the means of evaluation, and the name of the faculty member who has agreed to supervise and evaluate the work and award the grade. A student may earn a maximum of four credits in independent study over the course of the Juris Doctor program and may register for a maximum of two credits in any one semester. See Section 3.4 of the Student Handbook for more information.
[L602] System Change: Theory & Practice (2 credits)
Sooner or later, as a lawyer you will likely have the opportunity – either in your career or as an engaged citizen – to function as a change agent designing or advocating intervention strategies that go far beyond individual representation. You may become a member of a commission, a legislative staff person, a representative of agency personnel, a judge, an agency or organization head, a movement leader, a writer, a politician. As a changemaker, you will need different tools than case analysis, briefing decisions, and writing legal memoranda. You will need to understand what kinds of system change are possible, what those entail and what approaches offer the greatest possibility of effecting needed, sustained change. This systems change course imparts special competencies to enable students to interact with changemakers in different sectors (public, private, non-profit). It provides you with skills to strategize for change, produce work products, initiate modes of inquiry, and create social enterprises that will achieve your own true purpose.
[L610/L620] Externship (4 or 8 credits)
The goals of the externship program are to provide law students with expanded opportunities for 1) Developing and improving their legal skills; 2) Bridging the gap between legal studies and legal careers; 3) Exploring career areas of particular interest to them; and 4) Engaging in critical reflection, professional responsibility issues, and legal analysis. In the field placement component of the program, students spend a minimum of 200 hours (4 credits) or 400 hours (8 credits) at the externship site. Eligible placements can be with members of the judiciary, governmental agencies, or non-profit legal organizations. Students may not receive a salary, stipend, or other form of compensation from the externship site. In the contemporaneous tutorial component, students examine the broader social, political, economic, and policy-related ramifications of the work they are doing in the field as well as a variety of issues connected with the practice of law, including the role of lawyers in shaping public policy, the practice of public interest law, and the diversity of legal careers. Students in the tutorial are graded on the basis of class participation and attendance, written assignments such as journals of action and legal memoranda, and class presentations. Externship is graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis. Enrollment is limited. This course may not be taken concurrently with Clinic. Prerequisite: Successful completion of three semesters of law school for full-time students or six semesters of law school for part-time students.
[L642/L642A] Negotiations (1 or 2 credits)
This course takes a twofold approach to creating better negotiators: first, a knowledge-based approach that offers students conceptual tools and frameworks to identify, monitor and evaluate different negotiating situations; second, a practice-based approach that will enhance the students negotiating skills by introducing concrete negotiating tactics and by offering them opportunities to practice these tactics within a constructive learning environment. Through role-play exercises, students will explore, test, and refine their negotiating skills and style.
[L643] Social Security Disability Law (1 credit)
This litigation seminar is designed for those students seeking to explore the world of litigation, starting with non-adversarial hearings. It will discuss relevant Social Security Rulings, regulations, and court decisions as a framework for determining the representative’s role in the administrative hearing process. Students will be provided the opportunity, through class discussion and simulations, to prepare and present testimony. The focus of the testimony is the impact of various medical impairments on the level of the claimant’s daily functioning. The following will be emphasized: non-exertional limitations such as pain, and restrictions caused by mental impairments. The methodology employed in the class consists of lecture, student participation in vignettes, buzz-groups, and a simulated Social Security Disability Hearing. The final grade is based upon hearing preparation, a prehearing brief, and performance in a simulated hearing.
[L645] Systems Change: Be a Changemaker (1 credit)
Many students graduating from the School of Law will have the opportunity in their careers to be change agents designing intervention strategies that go far beyond individual representation. As professionals, these graduates will need tools to understand what system change entails. They will need frameworks to orient their actions, and experiential learning to make them more effective as change agents, to become skilled at adaptive and innovative change to meet those challenges. Three interconnected elements of change will form the core framework of this turbo course of systems change for change makers: the first is a Strong Purpose statement by which you will set and deepen your commitments; the second is the Strategic Possibilities from which you will establish and continually modify your plans of action; and the third element is the Significant Players with whom you will connect, partner, and interact to leverage resources and opportunities for change. With those as the three core elements, we will emphasize tools and tactics that will include story-telling, systems mapping, co-production as a set of base principles, and TimeBanking as a way to value what all can bring. Since power and influence shape our society so profoundly, we will consider power and its different faces – and which of those faces you will want to engage. Finally, we consider personal qualities and skills that you will call on as the means for effective action.
[L646] Introduction to Critical Race Theory (1 credit)
This course is an introductory survey of critical race theory, which is an interdisciplinary field dedicated to critiquing the law and legal systems. Critical race theory is distinguishable from conventional liberal thought about race, in particular, by its “deep dissatisfaction” with the traditional dialogue surrounding civil rights laws. It is here that we will spend most of our time together. Some critical race scholars would argue that the current law surrounding civil rights, first initiated in the 1960’s and 1970’s, relied on a “social compact around racial justice and racial power.” And that America agreed to embrace racial justice as long as racial power would continue to be treated as rare and aberrational rather than systemic. Liberal race reforms then acted to legitimize the basic myths of American meritocracy. And it is this flaw, some critical race theorists argue, that continues to haunt the country even in the face of our civil rights laws. This counter-narrative is not easy to accept when we have all been taught the opposite as a society throughout our cultural and legal history. The oppressed and the oppressor, the traditional liberal and the conservative are all taught racism is rare and our laws are fair. This is precisely why social justice oriented law students are well served by having even a basic understanding of critical race theory. The hope is that through this introduction students will reset their frame regarding what can and should be done under the law to bring about change. The course seeks to go about facilitating this introduction between student and critical race theory in three primary ways. First, the course will introduce students to the tenets and terminology of CRT. Second, the course will help students examine how those tenets might operate on our laws. Third, the course will offer students multiple opportunities to practice drafting narratives and counter-narratives informed by and in light of the CRT tenets.
[L647T] Asylum & Refugee Law: Trial Skills (1 credit)
This is a 1 credit (16 hour) course. It is to be conducted over four days on two consecutive weekends. It is a hybrid of a trial skills class, relevant to theories of relief from removal from this country. It will include discussion and analysis of current law governing the removal from United States of foreign-born individuals by utilizing a dozen precedential reported cases which set forth the prima facie elements of relief from removal. In the course, we will review eligibility requirements of these protections against removal using these same cases. Students will, throughout the course, also utilize a National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) type based method of developing testimonial evidence from historical case law that illustrates the prima facie elements for the forms of relief. This is not a policy or research course. The skills students will learn in this class are persuasion and advocacy skills which can be used in any courtroom, arbitration, negotiation or public speaking setting. Students will learn how to do basic opening statements, conduct direct and cross examinations of a fact witness and an expert witness, and will learn how to do a closing statement. There is no final examination or paper.
[L680] Civil Rights in the 21st Century Seminar (2 credits) (RALWR Opportunity*)
Share the foresight of a renowned civil rights leader. Weekly two-hour seminars address the most pressing social issues of today-and tomorrow. Topics include: racial profiling, racism and the death penalty, voting rights, equal protection of gays and lesbians, immigrant detention/asylum, and rights of children and people with disabilities.
[L701B] Perspectives on Social Justice: Law and the Economy (2 credits)
Perspectives on Social Justice: Law and the Economy is a seminar designed for students who are interested in economic policy and wealth inequality. Drawing from the work of economic and legal scholars, the course examines the inter-relation between imbalances in the economy and regulatory law. The class will examine the laws and accompanying policies that impact finance, capital development, household wealth, wages and taxation, with an eye to identifying aspects of the legal system that contribute to wealth inequality. As well, the class will consider legal measures that have the capacity to address economic inequality and ameliorate its detrimental effects. A primary goal of the course is to initiate and encourage informed conversation that centers on the role of the legal profession in effecting just and critical changes in the legal framework.
[L701D] Perspectives on Social Justice: DC and Puerto Rico Statehood (2 credits)
This seminar will offer law students an unprecedented view of DC and Puerto Rico statehood from a perspective grounded on comparative constitutionalism. Often overlooked from the pedagogical canon typically embraced by the American legal academy, American law students are seldom exposed to the constitutional underpinnings of statehood: (a) What is Congress’ constitutional role in the statehood process? (b) Can Congress impose on the territories conditions for granting statehood? (c) If so what type of conditions (i.e. economic, fiscal, cultural, linguistic)? (d) What is the equal footing doctrine? (e) Does the Constitution place any limits on Congress’ authority to grant or deny statehood? More specifically, the complex (and ancient) constitutional relationship among Congress, the District and the territories is, for the most part, completely foreign to the typical American law student. This seminar will exclusively address the DC and Puerto Rico case studies. While dissimilar in many seminal ways (histories, demographics, geography and constitutional status), both jurisdictions offer invaluable platforms for exploring the metes and bounds of statehood today. While facing similar odds and challenges (having both confronted the fiscal cliff and the dire face of a fiscal control board), DC and Puerto Rico are currently engaged in a frantic debate regarding the desirability of achieving statehood. Students enrolled in this seminar will draft legal briefs and actively participate in a moot court exercise with some of the most renowned legal practitioners in the field.
[L701E] Perspectives on Social Justice: Current Civil Rights Controversies Viewed in Context (1 credit)
This course will explore contemporary issues in civil rights law and policy. The class will focus on several substantive areas including voting, employment, higher education, criminal justice, and the role of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. In each area the course will examine current legal doctrine or context and accompanying critiques. The class will also explore the evolution of civil rights struggles throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Students will also have the option to attend a briefing before United States Commission on Civil Rights.
[L701F] Perspectives on Social Justice: Immigrants’ Rights (1 credit)
With all the focus on asylum seekers and refugees in the headlines — who is a refugee? What is asylum? How do you apply for it? How easy is it to be granted asylum? What are the laws and policies governing our system of protection for people who cannot return to their countries? How has asylum law and policy changed under the current Administration? This course will examine each component of the definition of a “refugee” in the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, with focus on how the asylum and refugee law in the United States has developed, as well as how the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other countries have defined a “refugee.” We will focus on some of the most legally complicated and controversial aspects of the definition, such as the meaning of “membership in a particular social group,” which is one of the five grounds for asylum. For example, we will examine how claims relating to gender-based violence or violence targeting families have been brought under the “particular social group” ground. We will also examine the legal processes involved in claiming asylum in the United States, focusing specifically on concerns around due process and access to counsel. The course will also address the practical challenges involved in winning asylum cases, including the impact of trauma on memory, credibility assessments, fact-gathering, and the role of expert evidence. This course prepares students for clinical work, employment and internship opportunities within the U.S. government and the NGO community and/or the representation of asylum seekers in pro bono or private practice.
[L701G] Perspectives on Social Justice: Race in America (1 credit)
This course is a cross-curricular collaboration addressing racial injustice in America. Through topic-focused discussion groups, students explore the recent anti-blackness protest in our country. The course also creates a space for conversations about how we discuss race and racism as a law school community.
[L701H] Perspectives on Social Justice: Legal Strategies for Economic Inclusion (1 credit)
This course will examine “new economy” strategies to reverse the flow of capital from low wealth communities to Wall Street and to persons in the top percentiles. We will examine three strategies that are now taking root in some communities with some success. These include public banking, innovations in capital ownership of local enterprises, and cooperative and employee ownership of businesses. The course will focus on the knowledge required of lawyers working in the field.
[L701J] Perspectives on Social Justice: The Trailblazing Legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2 credits)
This course offers an analytical overview of the trailblazing life and legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an exploration made all the more timely since her death on September 18, 2020. Her passing leaves a gaping hole in the Supreme Court, as she was the leading, senior voice for progressive rights and equality. Over the years, Justice Ginsburg became a cultural icon, beloved by the broader community of activists and advocates for women’s rights and equal justice for all under the law. Her appeal crossed generations, races, genders, and many diverse communities. We will analyze and discuss the major gender discrimination cases that Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued as an attorney-advocate before she was a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1981). Once appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President William Clinton in 1993, her opinions and dissents became legendary. Her advocacy as a Supreme Court Justice made an enduring impact on gender equality, voting rights, Affirmative Action, LGBTQ equality, the Affordable Care Act, and other social justice movements and issues.
In this course, we will discuss Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s landmark cases (before and after she became a Judge and Justice), with a focus on her opinions (and dissents). We will also read articles and book chapters, and view videos of her interviews and recent documentaries that memorialize her legacy. In addition, we will explore the enduring nature and analytical basis of her jurisprudence. That is, we will critically analyze her approach to deciding cases and to interpreting the Constitution as a living document meant to lift people up. We will also look at her role as an attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, which she directed from its founding in 1972, and her pioneering clinical law work promoting women’s rights, while a law professor at Rutgers and Columbia law schools. Students will be asked to write short “critical thought” papers or reflective journal entries on matters related to Justice Ginsburg’s legacy. This is a social justice “active-engagement learning experience.” Students will be expected to fully prepare, analyze the cases and participate in the session discussions.
* See Section 1.6 of the Student Handbook for information on the Research and Legal Analysis Writing Requirement (RALWR) and Applied Legal Writing Requirement (ALWR).