Law in Contemporary Society

Professor Eben Moglen
Columbia Law School, Spring 2017


Comments on your first essay have been posted. Almost everyone should revise. Revisions are due June 1. See NotesOnRevisions for further information.

Second essays—statements of personal reflection after the first year is over—are due June 7. Please see SecondEssay for assignment details and to create a template for your draft.


My office hours in spring 2017 are Wednesdays 3:45-5:45pm and Fridays 9:30-11:30am and 3-5pm, the latter for 1L students only. If you need to see me but cannot make office hours, please email moglen@columbia.edu for an appointment, or consult my assistant, Michael Weholt, at 212-461-1905.


On the Radar

Vinod Sreeharshaapril, When Warren Met Jorge Paulo: Buffett and Lemann Recall Their First Deal, New York Times, April 10, 2017

Sam Roberts, E. Clinton Bamberger, Lawyer With a ‘Fire for Justice,’ Is Dead at 90, New York Times, February 17, 2017

Claire Cain Miller, Republican Men Say It’s a Better Time to Be a Woman Than a Man, New York Times, January 17, 2017


A Word on Technology Old and New About the Word

This course is centered in the experience of classroom dialogue. Everything we read and write will be intended to help us understand better what we learn from listening to one another. I say "listening," because in a conversation with so many voices, we're all going to be listening much more than we are talking. So this is an extended exercise in active listening.

It turns out that wiki is a very good medium for active listeners. Below you will find an introduction to this particular wiki, or TWiki, where you can learn as much or as little about how this technology works as you want.

For now, the most important thing is just that any page of the wiki has an edit button, and your work in the course consists of writings that we will collaboratively produce here. You can make new pages, edit existing pages, attach files to any page, add links, leave comments in the comment boxes--whatever in your opinion adds to a richer dialog. During the semester I will assign writing exercises, which will also be posted here. All of everyone's work contributes to a larger and more informative whole, which is what our conversation is informed by, and helps us to understand. This is a law school course, so one cannot prevent altogether the stupidity of grades.

Please begin by registering. I look forward to seeing you at our first meeting.

Introduction to the LawContempSoc Web

The LawContempSoc site is a collaborative class space built on Twiki [twiki.org], a free software wiki system. If this is your first time using a wiki for a long term project, or first time using a wiki at all, you might want to take a minute and look around this site. If you see something on the page that you don't know how to create in a wiki, take a look at the text that produced it using the "Edit" button at the top of each page, and feel free to try anything out in the Sandbox.

All of the Twiki documentation is also right at hand. Follow the TWiki link in the sidebar. There are a number of good tutorials and helpful FAQs there explaining the basics of what a wiki does, how to use Twiki, and how to format text.

From TWiki's point of view, this course, Law in Contemporary Society, is one "web." There are other webs here: the sandbox for trying wiki experiments, for example, and my other courses, etc. You're welcome to look around in those webs too, of course. Below are some useful tools for dealing with this particular web of ours. You can see the list of recent changes, and you can arrange to be notified of changes, either by email or by RSS feed. I would strongly recommend that you sign up for one or another form of notification; if not, it is your responsibility to keep abreast of the changes yourself.

LawContempSoc Web Utilities