Legislation and Statutory Interpretation

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Course Description: 

This basic survey course has two major goals. First, though we think of ourselves as a common law country, most of our laws come from statutes. Lawyers, in whatever kind of law practice they engage, find themselves confronted regularly with statutes which must be made sense of. Therefore, the ability to read, interpret, and argue from statutes is a fundamental skill for any attorney. The first goal of this course, then, is to introduce the practical skills and basic theory for working with statutes. Second, and more broadly, students may have noticed that "law school" might be better described as "court school." That is, there is much education about courts, judges, and judicial process, but far less about how most of our laws are made. The second goal of this course, then, is to explore the legislative process and to begin to understand how the three branches of the federal government (and most states, as well) speak to one another. The course will combine standard law school teaching methods (lecture and Socratic discussion) with interactive classroom exercises. Most of the course grade will be based on an exam, but classroom engagement and perhaps one or two (very very short) written assignments will factor in as well.

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