611 Readings

This discussion course focuses on readings that explore connections between the law, the practice of law, the legal system, and issues of current societal importance or interest. Each section of the course is expected to have a different specific focus and different readings.

Readings courses focused on public interest may count towards the Public Interest and Public Service Certificate.

Course Areas of Practice
Course Type
Readings
Learning Outcomes
Other professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession
Spring 2018
2018
Course Number Course Title Course Credits Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

611.12 Readings: Comparative Law Methodology 1 Ralf Michaels TBD

In 1985, Günter Frankenberg called comparative law the “Cinderella of the legal sciences.” At the time, comparative law was marginalized as a discipline, and thoroughly undertheorized. Since then, both have changed: comparative law has received more attention, and there has been a healthy, if at times disorganized, debate on questions of method and theory.

The hope of the seminar is to provide an introduction into this methodological debate. Instead of treating method as a matter dealt with at the beginning of a comparative law study and then forgotten, we will make grappling with concepts like functionalism, transplants, and legal paradigms our main occupation. We will do so through a combination of seminal texts, overview articles, and brief examples of certain positions. After the seminar, students should have a clearer understanding not just of existing methods but also of their advantages and disadvantages; they should also feel better equipped to engage in methodologically sophisticated comparison themselves.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

611.13 Readings: Leadership in Law and Politics 1 Neil S. Siegel Th 4:00-5:50 PM 3000

This one-unit readings course will meet on Thursdays from 4-5:50 PM during the first half of the spring semester. Students will have the opportunity to study and discuss ideas about leadership in a number of settings and law-related fields. Topics will include: (1) leadership within a law school (the respective roles of the Dean, administration, faculty, and student leaders); (2) the need for legal education to train future leaders (and ways to do it); (3) leadership in the judiciary; (4) leadership in the corporate law firm; (5) leadership in governmental institutions; and (6) leadership (or its absence) in American politics.
This one-unit readings course will meet on Thursdays from 4-5:50 PM during the first half of the spring semester. Students will have the opportunity to study and discuss ideas about leadership in a number of settings and law-related fields. Topics will include: (1) leadership within a law school (the respective roles of the Dean, administration, faculty, and student leaders); (2) the need for legal education to train future leaders (and ways to do it); (3) leadership in the judiciary; (4) leadership in the corporate law firm; (5) leadership in governmental institutions; and (6) leadership (or its absence) in American politics.

Readings will likely include excerpts from Deborah Rhode’s 2013 book Lawyers as Leaders; excerpts from Jean Edward Smith’s biography of Chief Justice John Marshall; contributions to a recent Stanford Law Review symposium on Lawyers and Leadership; academic work on judicial statesmanship; news articles about relevant current events; and an article Professor Siegel is writing that seeks to develop a restraining role morality for presidents and members of Congress that is similar to what constitutional law scholars have come to expect of federal judges (even if they are frequently disappointed).

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

611.14 Readings in Social Justice: Mass Incarceration 1

Clinic Faculty

F 10:00-11:30 AM 4045

This one-credit C/NC readings class will explore the continuing crisis of mass incarceration.  Drawing on the expertise of Duke Law School’s clinical faculty, the course will examine the causes of the explosion of the U.S. penal population, including the public and private structures and incentives that have enabled the crisis.  Students and faculty will trace the path of a prison inmate from the school-to-prison pipeline, to life and health care in prison, and ending with the problems faced after re-entry.  We will also examine mass incarceration under an international human rights framework, and discuss how the effects of mass incarceration are exacerbated by technological decision-making tools that implicate everything from sentencing to parole, and the search for housing and jobs.

The class will meet 8 times throughout the semester for 90-minute sessions, and will be offered credit/no-credit.  Open to 2L, 3L and LLM students.  Enrollment cap is 18.  Class will be collaboratively taught by faculty of the Duke Law Clinics.  Reflection papers will be required.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

611.15 Readings: What Really Happened?: The Global Financial Crisis in Retrospect? 1 Lawrence G. Baxter TBD

This seminar will provide an opportunity to reflect on the multiple causes of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.  Some clearer pathways to crisis are beginning to emerge, and studying these is timely given the constant demand for reform in financial regulation. 

Material for the seminar will consist of about three or four recent books that attempt to tie the events, dynamics and causes together.   We will also consider new pressures that could trigger another financial crisis.

Prior completion of Big Bank Regulation or Securities Regulation is highly desirable.

The seminar group will have an organizational meeting at the law school and subsequent meetings at Professor Baxter’s home in early evenings that work for everyone’s schedule.  Participants will be assigned in groups to one of the books and will be asked to prepare book reports for discussion at our meetings.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
Fall 2017
2017
Course Number Course Title Course Credits Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

611.06 Readings: Race & Criminal Justice 1 James E. Coleman, Jr. TBA TBA TBA

This discussion course focuses on readings that explore connections between the law, the practice of law, the legal system, and issues of current societal importance or interest. Each section of the course is expected to have a different specific focus and different readings.

Readings courses focused on public interest may count towards the Public Interest and Public Service Certificate.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

611.11 Readings: Transgender Issues 1 Carolyn McAllaster W 10:50-12:20 PM 3171

This one-credit Readings class will focus on the evolving political and legal rights and experiences of the transgender community both historically and in the current political environment. Through readings and discussion, students and faculty will examine the transgender experience in both the personal context and in the political context of the broader LGBTQ and re-thinking gender movements. Each class session will focus on different aspects of the transgender experience, starting with an overview and definition of terms, with subsequent classes focusing on transgender history, health disparities and transgender children. We will devote two classes to a discussion of legal rights, including employment, education, and bathroom access on both the state and federal level pre- and post the current Trump administration. These classes will tie into the North Carolina controversial HB2 bill.  Students will write two reflection papers focused on the class readings.

This course will meet for 8 weeks beginning September 13, 2017.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
Spring 2017
2017
Course Number Course Title Course Credits Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

611.10 Readings in Advertising and Contracts 1 John C. Weistart M 6:00-8:00 PM 4046

Advertising is intended to persuade. The ultimate goal is to cause recipients to take action.  If successful, ads produce a relationship that, among other things, implicates the law. Usually the result is a contract.  A recurring, but largely under-analyzed, issue is whether the content of pre-contract ads has legal significance.  The historical trend of the law has been to be dismissive of the arguments that statements in ads are actionable.  Often it is found that the content of ads is not specific enough or, alternatively, that effect on any given consumer is uncertain.

This Readings course explores interdisciplinary sources to provide more information about the cultural role of advertising and the actual behavioral impacts of the medium. There is, for example, a significant question whether any individual ad actually affects behavior.  On the other hand, advertising exists because of a belief that it is an effective tool to guide consumer preferences.

We will also examine how advertising messages intersect with the law of contracts.  The relevant concepts are those that relate to the topics of effective consent, misrepresentations, and warranties.

The assignments in the course will include readings, short written submissions, projects, and discussions.  The instructor is very attentive to the fact that this is only a one hour course and that the total workload should be limited accordingly.

The class will meet in two-hour segments and will not extend over the entire semester.  The class will end well before the examination period.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
Fall 2016
2016
Course Number Course Title Course Credits Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

611.04 Readings in Social Justice 1

Clinic Faculty

F 10:50-12:20 PM 4000

This one-credit class will use the crisis in Flint, Michigan – in which lead was allowed to leach into the drinking water of an entire city -- as a case study to allow students to explore the social and racial justice implications of a contemporary American tragedy that disproportionately affected mostly low-income, African-American residents. Through reading and discussion, students and faculty will study how institutions (government, corporate, nonprofit, etc.) contributed to the problem and how they should contribute to the solutions. Each class session will take a different approach so that the environmental, health, educational, and human rights implications can be seen. The role of lawyers – both in creating and solving the situation – will be examined.

The class meets in eight, 90-minute sessions. Two reflection papers will be required; other assignments may be required. No exam or long paper required. Course is taught collaboratively by the Duke Law clinic faculty.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

611.05 Readings: Current Issues in Telecommunications Regulation 1 Stuart M. Benjamin

This readings course will focus on the two central issues in contemporary telecommunications – net neutrality and the opening up of additional electromagnetic spectrum for new services. On net neutrality, we will address both its legality and its possible application to a variety of new services. On spectrum, we will consider different forms of spectrum usage rights (such as licenses, which have been the traditional form of usage rights) and the possibilities raised by technologies that can use ever-higher frequencies. Given the evolving nature of these issues, students in the course will be asked to do some research to contribute to the readings considered in the course, and to contribute actively to discussion in each class. We will have six class meetings during the semester at a time convenient to those registered for the course.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

611.06 Readings: Race and Criminal Justice 1 James E. Coleman, Jr.

This course will convene a discussion around some of the many pressing issues facing the American criminal justice system that implicate race.  Our primary focus will be on the criminal trial, and we will use the recent documentary, OJ: Made in America, as our initial text for framing some of these issues.  Students will be expected to participate actively and candidly in each class.  The class will hold six meetings of two hours each, to be held on dates to be determined.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

611.07 Readings: Financial Policy Outcomes of the 2016 Elections 1 Lee Reiners TBD TBD TBD

Financial market regulation, including Glass-Steagall and breaking up the banks, is a central platform for both parties in the 2016 presidential election; even though we are over eight years removed from the catastrophic 2007-2008 financial crisis.  If presidential and congressional candidates are to be taken seriously, there could be a substantial impact on the U.S. financial regulatory framework.  This readings course will begin with a survey of the current financial regulatory landscape before proceeding to analyze the relevant positions of the presidential candidates.  Our analysis will also incorporate bills currently being considered by the House and Senate that, if passed, would significantly reform portions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  As we assess potential changes to financial market regulation, we will strive to understand how these changes may impact the structure, activities, and profitability of regulated financial institutions.  Given the evolving nature of these issues, students in the course will be asked to do some research to contribute to the readings considered in the course, and to contribute actively to discussion in each class.

Concurrent or prior registration in either Big Bank Regulation or Securities Regulation may be helpful

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

611.08 Readings: Frontier Technologies of Legal Practice 1 Jeff Ward Th 5:30 – 7:30 PM 4046

In his book The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts, Richard Susskind proclaims “[the] end of the professional era” and then identifies numerous challenges that face the doctors, accountants, and, yes, the lawyers of tomorrow. Rapid technological change is making many uneasy. The legal community fears job loss, diminished service quality, loss of professional community, and much more. But this same technological change also offers tremendous potential opportunity for those willing to imagine a brave new era of legal practice. And, as Susskind himself invites, “professionals should become directly involved in the development of the systems that handle and deliver practical expertise.” This course aims to help us do exactly that: to understand, re-imagine, shape, and lead the next generation of legal practice.

 “Frontier Technologies of Legal Practice” is a one-credit, fast-track course meeting for 6 weeks of the fall semester (see dates below). Each class will include guest speakers and will focus on different aspects of the rapidly evolving technological landscape and the ways it will shape the practice of law in the next generation. Technologies will include those that are existing (e-discovery; big data, expert systems, etc.), emerging (artificial intelligence and machine learning; semantic systems, etc.), and those that have the potential to revolutionize the law and other industries in decades to come (blockchains and DAOs, etc.).

Of three primary ways of analyzing law tech—(1) the law of technology, (2) the technology of practicing law, and (3) the technology of the clients/industries lawyers serve—this course will focus on the latter two. Those interested in the law of technology (for example, how the law must respond and reshape in light of driverless cars), please consider the companion course, The Law of Robots & Exponential Technologies, which meets at the same time on weeks when this course does not meet (In other words, the courses were designed to allow you to enroll in both).

SPECIAL NOTES FOR STUDENTS:

*This 1-credit fast-track course meets only on the days noted above. Students will be responsible for careful class preparation, participation in class, and periodic response papers. Evaluation will be on a CR/NC basis. No prerequisites.

  • Thursday 8/25
  • Thursday 9/8
  • Thursday 9/29
  • Thursday10/20
  • Thursday 11/3
  • Thursday 11/17

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

611.09 Readings: The Law of Robots & Exponential Technologies 1 Jeff Ward Th 5:30 – 7:30 PM 4046

Artificial intelligence technologies are advancing rapidly. Just recently, Google DeepMind’s artificial-intelligence program, AlphaGo, beat the greatest player in the world, Lee Sedol, at the ancient game of Go, a game in which there are:

208,168,199,381,979,984,699,478,633,344,862,770,286,522,453,884,530,548,425,639,456,820,927,419,612,738,015,378,525,648,451,698,519,643,907,259,916,015,628,128,546,089,888,314,427, 129,715,319,317,557,736,620,397,247,064,840,935

possible moves (in case you’re wondering, that’s more possible moves than there are atoms in the universe!). Self-driving cars (and delivery trucks, and motorcycles, and passenger planes) are being tested on highways around the world. Robots are providing nursing home care to seniors, fighting our wars, manufacturing and testing our everyday goods, and even providing emotionally responsive companionship. Cross-border transactions are happening with virtual currencies, without the use of any bank or, in many cases, the knowledge of any government.

All of these evolutions (if not revolutions) raise significant challenges for the law. And the pace of change in all of these areas is only growing more rapid. How will the law respond to exponential change? What happens when a self-driving car causes an accident? How do the rules of professional responsibility for lawyers respond when we augment our intelligence with rapid machine learning?  When a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) breaches a contract, upon whom do we serve process to initiate legal action? If a robot kills someone, can it possess the criminal intent to be charged with murder? And, even if so, would our current penal system matter to the robot at all?

The Law of Robots & Exponential Technologies aims to explore these questions through a survey of various exponential technologies and the legal regimes they disrupt. The course is meant as an introduction to these issues and, while some questions might be answered and some legal solutions might be found, the aim will be to help students develop a framework for answering these questions now and in the years to come. Students will also consider policy responses in light of the vast changes that may occur in our economic order as machines increasingly displace human labor.

Of three primary ways of analyzing law tech—(1) the law of technology, (2) the technology of practicing law, and (3) the technology of the clients/industries lawyers serve—this course will focus on the first. For those interested in how technology is causing rapid changes in the ways we practice law and the core industries we serve,  please consider the companion course, Frontier Technologies of Legal Practice, which meets at the same time on weeks when this course does not meet (In other words, the courses were designed to allow you to enroll in both).

SPECIAL NOTES FOR STUDENTS:

*This 1-credit fast-track course meets only on the days noted below. Students will be responsible for careful class preparation, participation in class, and periodic response papers. Evaluation will be on a CR/NC basis. No prerequisites.

  • Thursday 9/1
  • Thursday 9/15
  • Thursday 9/22
  • Thursday10/6
  • Thursday 10/27
  • Thursday 11/10

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
Spring 2016
2016
Course Number Course Title Course Credits Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

611.01 Readings: Race, Policing, and Criminal Justice Samuel W. Buell, Lisa Kern Griffin Th 5:00-7:00 PM 3000

This course will convene a discussion around some of the many pressing issues facing American criminal justice that involve interactions between state actors and persons of color.  Primary focus will be on street-level policing, with some focus also on prisons.  A goal will be to examine some of the current legal problems involving race and criminal justice in their relevant social, economic, and psychological contexts.  Readings likely will include authors such as Michelle Alexander, Ta-Nehisi Coates, James Forman, Alice Goffman, Jonathan Pfaff, and William Stuntz, as well as materials relating to New York City’s stop-and-frisk litigation, the U.S. DOJ’s investigation of policing in Ferguson, Missouri, and other recent notable controversies involving police use of force.  One credit.  Six meetings of two hours each, to be be held on the following Thursdays from 5:00 pm to 7:00pm:  January 28, February 11, February 25, March 10, March 24, and April 7. 

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

611.02 Readings: Exploring Difference and Privilege Through Fiction Katharine T. Bartlett W 6:00-8:30 PM 4172

This readings course uses fiction to explore the concept of difference and privilege in contemporary society, particularly in the context of race and gender. Among the themes explored are: what are the sources of privilege and how is it maintained; where do the unwritten rules by which people live their lives come from; why are these rules followed, even by those whose interests they do not serve; and why do some people challenge them and what happens when they do.  Four books will be chosen by the class from a list of novels by authors who include Ta-nehisi Coates, Toni Morrison, Ursula Hegi, Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, Nella Larsen, Valerie Martin, James Baldwin, Ernest Gaines, Edward Jones, Alice Walker, and Rohinton Mistry. There will be an organizational meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 13 from 6-6:45 pm. to select books.  Thereafter, the class will meet from 6-8:30 pm on Jan. 27, Feb. 3 & 17, and March 16 & 30 (all Wednesdays); dinner will be available.  Brief (1-2 page) reaction papers are due before each of the 5 class meetings. This is a one-credit course, with additional 1-2 credits available for a longer paper.  The class is led by Professor Katharine Bartlett.

The list of books (with short summaries) from which the assigned novels will be chosen is available by e-mailing Professor Bartlett at bartlett@law.duke.edu. During the organizational meeting on Jan. 13, students are free to propose additional books.

 

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

611.03 Readings: Race and Federalism Guy-Uriel Charles F 8:30-10:30 AM TBD

Race and Federalism.  This course will use race a lens through which to view “the oldest question in constitutional law:” how we in the United States divide power and authority between the states and the national government.  We will examine the way that race has influenced the historical foundations and normative underpinnings of our federalism, and will explore how these understandings have evolved throughout American history. We will look at four moments in our constitutional history: the Founding; Reconstruction; the New Deal; and the modern federalism revival. Our aim is to better understand the impact that race has had and continues to have on federalism and federalism on race.  We will read some articles, some cases, and some public commentary.  This is a one-credit pass/fail course.  We will meet on the following six Fridays from 8:30-10:30 am: 1/29; 2/12; 3/4; 3/25; 4/8; and 4/15.  Brunch will be provided.  The class is led by Professor Charles and will meet at his house.

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.