Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What I'm learning about in law school: cows, trash, cheap cars, and other assorted topics

We're now halfway through the fall semester, which means that I am officially 41.7 percent finished with law school (not that anyone is counting). Here is a quick glance at some of the topics that are being explored in my classes: 

  • Constitutional Law: we're knee deep in the Commerce Clause, studying cases that decide whether a state can pass certain laws that impact citizens or businesses of other states. For example: a New Jersey law forbidding the importation of trash from nearby states was struck down, but the Supreme Court held that a Minnesota statute that outlawed plastic milk cartons was OK. 
  • Professional Responsibility: lots of nuts and bolts about how to behave. For example: don't have sex with clients; what is a "reasonable" legal fee; how do you deal with conflicts that arise when you leave one law firm and join another; why judges should think twice about being Boy Scout troop leaders; and whether it is ever OK to lie to a client.
  • Business Organizations: the role of a company is to make money, and the board of directors has a legal duty to promote the pursuit of profits. But what happens when the majority owner of a company decides to cut prices on a popular product, and not reward other owners with a fat dividend? For details, check out Dodge v. Ford.
  • Evidence: say you're on trial for rape, but your accuser has a history of sexual misconduct and a pattern of lying about being sexually abused. Can you introduce that evidence to impeach the accuser's credibility and, perhaps, avoid a lengthy prison sentence? The answer, in most cases, is no for the sexual history, but yes for the false accusations. 

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