Law in Contemporary Society

Statement on Syllabus

Students considering the course often ask about the syllabus of readings. Some background is necessary in order to appreciate why there is no precise or salient answer.

This course is about three intertwined questions:

  1. What is creativity in law, and how do I cultivate creativity in my own legal thinking?
  2. How do we, as creative lawyers, under the new conditions of 21st century practice, build our careers so as to do well by doing good, instead of choosing between serving the powerful and rich for our own enrichment or serving the "public interest" at the expense of personal material success and professional flexibility?
  3. How can the tools of network-based collaboration, like wikis, help me to improve my professional writing skills and my ability to collaborate with other lawyers and professionals to achieve better results for clients?

Readings are relevant to those inquiries, but they are not primary. The primary materials of the course are our discussion in class and our writings here. I draw upon a large number of possible readings each year, in a collection and sequence determined not by a pre-conceived "syllabus," but rather (given certain starting points), by the needs the conversation and student writings reveal. For illustrative purposes only, and without any commitment to the use of the same selection of materials in the same order, here are some of the readings we used during Spring 2012:

  • O.W. Holmes, The Path of the Law
  • Felix Cohen, Transcendental Nonsense and the Functional Approach
  • Thurman Arnold, The Folklore of Capitalism
  • Jerome Frank, Courts on Trial
  • Lawrence Joseph, Lawyerland
  • Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener
  • H.D. Thoreau, A Plea for Captain John Brown
  • A.W.B. Simpson, Cannibalism and the Common Law
  • Arthur Leff, Swindling and Selling

All readings are made freely available on the Web, giving us the flexibility we need in order to adapt our reading to our thinking, rather than the other way around. Our own writings are more important to our learning process than other peoples' writings, just as our own lives as lawyers are more important than the decisions of cases, the contents of regulations, or the bloviations of law professors.

Students considering this course should also read the EvaluationPolicy in effect in all my courses.

-- EbenMoglen - 30 Oct 2012


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r1 - 30 Oct 2012 - 07:41:11 - EbenMoglen
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