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Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Legal Design Lab (Spring 2018)

Course Description

This class operates as a workshop, intended to help students develop new ideas for designing legal systems and delivering legal work.  Lawyers assume a significant role in legal design through their responsibilities as members of bar associations, the entities to which many supreme courts effectively delegate the power to regulate the design and function of legal practice and institutions.  Regulatory decisions by lawyers have a major impact on the cost, quality and accessibility of legal systems—matters that are coming under increase pressure for change in a changing world.  The next generation of lawyers will need to the source of fresh ideas about how to design and deliver law.

In this course we will step back from our taken-for-granted legal institutions—law produced exclusively by public actors and legal work done exclusively by JD-trained lawyers—to think about how law, legal work and legal education might be done very differently.  Could private firms produce contract law to compete with the law of New York, for example?  What would happen if we allowed legal services to be provided not just by law partnerships but also corporations and non-profit organizations?  Can the transition to market democracy in a poor country happen faster and be more stable if the legal system is provided by another, advanced, democracy, or even by a private organization?  Are global joint-ventures or global regulatory goals well-served by a system in which law and the license to practice law shifts every time people or products or information crosses a national boundary? How might we re-invent law to better respond to a world of rapid innovation and global integration? 

Students will participate in discussion of readings and in rapid efforts to develop “one idea” about how to do things better and a major final project culminating in a presentation or pitch.  The projects, which will be completed in teams if there is sufficient registration, will involve evaluating or proposing innovative ways of addressing shortcomings in our existing legal systems.   The emphasis will be on out-of-the box thinking and critical analysis of what we really need law to do to support a fair and efficient legal system, economic prosperity and the expansion of global market democracy.   

Course Details

  • Unit Value: 3
  • Grading Options: Numerical Only
  • Schedule: Th 2:00 pm - 4:50 pm
  • Room Number: Room 106
  • Exam: None
  • Writing Requirement: No
  • Skills/Experiential Unit Requirement: no
  • Participation: Required and graded