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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Commercial Law Curriculum Redo

The following bleg comes from Wayne Barnes (Texas A&M), David Epstein (Richmond), Paula Franzese (Seton Hall), and Kevin Tu (New Mexico), on their plan to redo the place of Commercial Law in the curriculum. Address responses to any of them.

More and more law schools are no longer regularly offering three-credit courses in (1) payment systems, (2) secured transactions, and/or  (3) sales.  In part because these schools do not have faculty members who want to teach the courses.  And, in part because students do not sign up for commercial law courses.  Even if the commercial law courses are taught from 11-12 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


And, the students are, of course, right.  Most students do not need 42 class hours of payment systems or 42 hours of secured transactions or 42 hours more of sales.  However, lawyers in a general civil practice do need to have familiarity with core commercial law concepts in order to master the specific statutory provisions that govern the transaction or litigation matter that they are working on.  And, before that, there is a need to pass the state bar exam.


We propose that those needs can best be meet in a two credit course covering just the core commercial law concepts and are working on course materials for such a course.    We welcome your reasoned arguments against  this proposal.  Even more welcome would be your suggestions as to how 28 class hours can most effectively be used by students learning core commercial concepts.


Look forward to seeing you at the AALS and/or receiving your emails.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on December 16, 2015 at 05:01 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink


Is it assumed that full 3-4 credit courses on insolvency and business organizations are still attractive and remain?

Posted by: Gilles | Dec 20, 2015 2:39:37 PM

I'm skeptical of the value of a 2-credit core-concepts commercial law course. Such a course could not require students to delve into the details of these complicated statutory schemes, and the educational value of courses on these topics really lies in the details. The details matter a great under these statutes, particularly Article 9. I doubt a 2-credit course on multiple areas of commercial law could communicate anything meaningful about secured transactions.

Posted by: Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk | Dec 17, 2015 12:14:17 PM

I took a three credit commercial paper / sales class in law school, which felt, from the student side of the lectern, like an appropriate length. I'm not sure how you would squeeze secured transactions in with it, much less compress all of that down to two credits, and avoid losing important nuance. So like James, I'm curious why not three or four?

Now, course materials designed to accommodate two, three, and four credit options would be fantastic, from my untutored perspective.

Posted by: Jake Linford | Dec 17, 2015 11:00:41 AM

The question I have is why just two credits? The case for an integrated commercial-law course for students not going into a commercial-law field all but makes itself. But I would like to hear more about why the core can be covered in two credits rather than three or four.

Posted by: James Grimmelmann | Dec 16, 2015 9:10:24 PM

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