218 Comparative Law

This course provides an overview of comparative law. We will learn about the differences and similarities, both real and perceived, between different legal orders. We will compare both civil law and common law systems, and authoritarian and liberal legal systems. We will also investigate the rise and fall of foreign legal studies in the U.S., from soviet law in the 1960s-1970s, Japanese law in the 1980s-1990s, European Union law in the early 2000s, and Chinese law in the recent decade. We will investigate the impact of American law on foreign countries and international law, and foreign law in American courts. On a theoretical level, we will try to understand what it means to "compare", and how it can help us both to understand other legal systems as well as our own.

Class participation: 10%; 4 response papers (1 page per paper): 20%; final paper (26 pages minimum): 70%. JD students have an option to write a longer paper (30 pages minimum) to satisfy their writing requirements. Please seek the instructor's approval for this writing credit by the end of October. 

Course Areas of Practice
Evaluation Methods
  • Research paper, 25+ pages
  • Class participation
Degree Requirements
Course Type
  • Lecture
Learning Outcomes
  • Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law

Sample Syllabi

Fall 2021

2021
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Days/Times Room

218.01 3
  • Research paper, 25+ pages
  • Class participation
Shitong Qiao M/W 8:55 AM-10:20 AM 3043

This course provides an overview of comparative law. We will learn about the differences and similarities, both real and perceived, between different legal orders. We will compare both civil law and common law systems, and authoritarian and liberal legal systems. We will also investigate the rise and fall of foreign legal studies in the U.S., from soviet law in the 1960s-1970s, Japanese law in the 1980s-1990s, European Union law in the early 2000s, and Chinese law in the recent decade. We will investigate the impact of American law on foreign countries and international law, and foreign law in American courts. On a theoretical level, we will try to understand what it means to "compare", and how it can help us both to understand other legal systems as well as our own.

Class participation: 10%; 4 response papers (1 page per paper): 20%; final paper (26 pages minimum): 70%. JD students have an option to write a longer paper (30 pages minimum) to satisfy their writing requirements. Please seek the instructor's approval for this writing credit by the end of October. 

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

Fall 2018

2018
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Days/Times Room

218.01 3
  • Final Exam
Ralf Michaels M/W 10:55-12:20 PM 4045

This course has two aims. On a practical level, we will learn about the differences and similarities, both real and perceived, between different legal orders. We will focus on legal orders within the "civil" and "common" law and try to find out in which way it makes sense to conceive of them as "the Western Legal Tradition". On a theoretical level, we will try to understand what it means to "compare", and how it can help us both to understand other legal systems as well as our own.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

Fall 2017

2017
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Days/Times Room

218.01 3
  • Take-home examination
Ralf Michaels MW 10:55-12:20 PM 4055

This course has two aims. On a practical level, we will learn about the differences and similarities, both real and perceived, between different legal orders. We will focus on legal orders within the "civil" and "common" law and try to find out in which way it makes sense to conceive of them as "the Western Legal Tradition". On a theoretical level, we will try to understand what it means to "compare", and how it can help us both to understand other legal systems as well as our own.

Syllabus: 218.01.Fall2017-syllabus.pdf46.17 KB

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

Fall 2016

2016
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Days/Times Room

218.01 3
  • Take-home examination
Ralf Michaels TuTh 11:00-12:21 PM 4000

This course has two aims. On a practical level, we will learn about the differences and similarities, both real and perceived, between different legal orders. We will focus on legal orders within the "civil" and "common" law and try to find out in which way it makes sense to conceive of them as "the Western Legal Tradition". On a theoretical level, we will try to understand what it means to "compare", and how it can help us both to understand other legal systems as well as our own.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

*Please note that this information is for planning purposes only, and should not be relied upon for the schedule for a given semester. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.