101.01 Foundations of Law

The Foundations Course is designed to supply some of the connections among and between the courses in your legal education, to deepen your skills, improve your understanding and give you a better “toolkit” for the rest of your legal education and – more importantly – your legal career. Have you learned the standard pro/con arguments that run through every course? Do you know who the legal realists were and how they influenced every course you take? Did you ever want to sidle up the professor and ask her just to tell you the rule and leave out all this “on the one hand, on the other hand” stuff? Would that have helped? Did your studying for your final exams not always seem to provide the skills the exams tested? Why? Did the light-bulb of enlightenment turn on for you in the middle of the first semester, or was it more of a wind-blown candle? Do your feelings towards economic analysis oscillate between disdain and panicked incomprehension? Should your attitude towards arguments based on intent be the same in a Contracts class, a Criminal Law class and in a debate over the intent of the Framers? Do you have a consistent attitude towards Constitutional interpretation or judicial method? Does the Supreme Court? Was Christopher Columbus Langdell real? Why are we still teaching you using the techniques he pioneered? What does – what should – legal training add to your understanding of fundamental issues such as race, class and gender, the organizing power and the moral limits of the market, the reach of personal autonomy?  Does legal socialization require having one’s social conscience removed or does it merely seem that way sometimes? We will be answering – or at least framing – these and other questions.

The course is a compressed one and the readings are short.  In the Fall, the class meets once.  You will complete a questionnaire 5 weeks into the semester that will help identify the skills you need to master more thoroughly.  Our single class in the Fall is designed to help do exactly that.  You will read a 10 page article on legal argument and complete an exercise on those skills.  In the Spring, we meet 7 times; there are in-class exercises and a pass-fail final exam.

Special Notes:

This class will meet in two sections:

  • Section 1: 11:00-12:30 in Room 3041

  • Section 2: 1:30-3:00 in Room 3041

Fall 2016

Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor
Course Credits
Scheduled in-class examination
James Boyle
Sakai site: https://sakai.duke.edu/portal/site/LAW.101.01.F16
Email list: LAW.101.01.F16@sakai.duke.edu
Degree Requirements
Course Requirements - JD
Course Areas of Practice
Course Areas of Practice