Courses

Note: Course descriptions are subject to change as individual professors develop their plans for each course.

Law 800: Basics of Accounting

Professor James Cox

Students will learn the basic skills involved in commercial accounting: how to read a balance sheet, how to classify debts and assets, etc. The course will include budgeting and accounting exercises designed to simulate real business scenarios.

Law 809:  Litigation Strategy in the Corporate Context

Abigail Reardon, L ‘81

Students will explore the role of the litigator in advising corporate colleagues and clients concerning the risks and benefits with pursuing a claim, including identifying the gateway and substantive issues, the most cost-effective approaches, and client business interests and goals. After reviewing a mock purchase agreement that ended in a dispute, students will be divided into two groups—one representing the buyer, the other the seller—and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their respective clients’ positions and propose a strategy, including the likelihood of success and potential recovery, to “the client.”

Law 814:  Basics for the Finance Lawyer

Alexandra Johnson, T ‘99

This course will serve as a practical introduction to the practice of law and concepts related to a general commercial finance transaction.  Students will engage in an article-by-article review of a sample loan agreement and hypothetical proposed transaction, thereby becoming familiar with the underlying concepts, the relevant business considerations and the types/structure of relevant documents, the interplay of contract provisions across an entire deal, and the underlying legal framework.

Law 815: Advising a Distressed Enterprise and Its Stakeholders

Zachary Smith

This course will provide students with a practical understanding of the role of outside counsel to key stakeholders in complex, high-stakes, and fast-paced business reorganizations and liquidations – including distressed companies and their boards, secured and unsecured creditors, and distressed investors/asset purchasers.  Discussion topics include (i) advising the Board of Directors of a distressed company during periods of significant uncertainty and risk, including as to fiduciary responsibilities; (ii) out-of-court and in-court restructuring alternatives, techniques, and pitfalls; (iii) preparation, commencement, and administration of a case under chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code; (iv) “hot button” issues in chapter 11; and (v) cross-border restructurings.

Law 816:  Counseling & Creating a New Entity

Bryan McGann, LLMLE ‘15

Meet your new client—StryveTek.  StryveTek is an innovative start-up looking to form a legal entity and get started pursuing the dreams of its founders.  They’ve come to you for help.  Where do you go from here?  Students in Counseling & Creating a New Entity will learn to counsel a new entity from the initial phone call to the preparation of organizational documents.  Discussion will cover the variety of legal entities available for business, social enterprise, and philanthropic purposes—corporations, LLCs, and nonprofit corporations—and the several legal disciplines involved in the formation of an entity (e.g., corporate, tax, and securities law).  Students will work with real document forms to learn how to get StryveTek up and running!

Law 820-01:  Deposition Practice and Strategy

Dan Katz, L’83

Students will learn the basic nuts and bolts of taking and defending depositions: how to prepare for a deposition, how to formulate effective questions, what objections to raise and when, how to handle difficult witnesses and counsel, etc.  Students will also learn how deposition strategy directly impacted the outcome of actual trials handled by Mr. Katz.  Active student participation is encouraged.

Law 820-02 & -03:  Deposition Practice (two sections)

Lily Farel, L ‘06; Paul Sun, L ‘89

Students will learn the basic nuts and bolts of taking and defending depositions: how to prepare for a deposition, how to formulate effective questions, what objections to raise and when, how to handle difficult witnesses, etc.  Students will have the opportunity to participate in interactive deposition exercises focused on question technique, strategy, and content.

Law 822: Hearings Practice

Collin Cox, L ‘01

Students will consider strategies both for when to draft/offer motions in an ongoing litigation matter, and how best to draft and argue such motions in a hearing before a judge. During the course, students will participate in practical mock hearing exercises, with the opportunity for direct feedback on arguments and styles.

Law 825:  Practice and Strategic Development of International Transactions: Investment in Latin America

Stuart Berkson and José Meirelles

This course explores the fundamental issues, strategic considerations, and principles inherent in transnational business transactions in Latin America and the role of the international attorney in structuring and implementing such transactions. Class time is devoted to a case study of a merger and acquisition transaction involving the purchase of a Brazilian entity by a US multinational corporation. The process of constructing an "international deal" is analyzed step by step, exploring all phases of the venture. Focus is given to recognizing and anticipating potential areas of conflict and evaluating the appropriate and legally viable measures available to address these issues.

Law 831:  In-House Legal Practice

Gray McCalley, L ‘79, and Allen Nelson, T ‘86, L ‘89

Students in this course will (i) explore the role of in-house counsel as counsel and in-house counsel as a member of a larger commercial organization (publicly-traded company, large division of a publicly-traded company, large family-owned private company), (ii) gain an understanding of the skills that make counsel, but especially in-house counsel, effective, and (iii) apply these skills during a team assignment which will result in a presentation to “the client.” The focus of the course will be almost exclusively on the effective delivery of situation-relevant legal guidance within an organization versus examining the intricacies of a specific area of law. In the process students will be exposed to issues commonly encountered by in-house counsel, from determining who the client is to the organizational dynamics of providing legal guidance.

Law 832:  Navigating Dangerous Waters: Internal Corporate Investigations

John Villa, T ‘70

In the modern corporate world, the discovery of potential criminal misconduct generates a whirlwind of activity and grave risk to the company and its senior management. This can begin with the decision whether to make a voluntary disclosure to the Justice Department, followed in many instances by an internal corporate investigation by outside counsel. The internal investigation may be followed by, or even conducted in parallel with, a federal grand jury investigation which presents an even more serious threat. This course presents the legal, ethical, and practical problems facing counsel who represent corporations in the conduct of internal investigations and the defense of federal criminal investigations.

Law 837:  Legal and Policy Aspects of U.S. Civil-Military Relations

Charles Dunlap, Jr.

The seminar will address the Constitutional and statutory structure of U.S. civil-military relations, as well as contemporary issues relating to the role of the armed forces in policy debates, politics, and social issues.  In addition, it will examine case studies that illustrate the tensions that can arise between the armed forces and the civilian leadership in a variety of circumstances.  Methodologies and approaches for ensuring productive civil-military relations will also be discussed.

Law 844:  The Counselor and the Client: The Corporate Context

Professor Erika Buell; Professor James D. Cox; William Curtin T ‘92; Will Yavinsky, T ‘05; Katherine Keeley, T ‘07

This six-hour course, taught over three sessions, is designed to introduce first-year JD students to the commercial, regulatory and institutional environment of contemporary business transactions, and the role of attorneys in advising and facilitating those transactions. Students will gain an understanding of the mechanisms, processes and personalities that accompany everyday commercial transactions and will be acquainted with the vocabulary used in business and other organizations. The purpose of the course is to provide a greater understanding of the business context in which lawyers function.  The course is intended for all students whatever their ultimate focus and is not designed particularly for students who intend to practice corporate law.

Law 846:  Compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

Suzanne Katzenstein and Brian Zuercher

This course will explore some of the main legal and practical issues surrounding compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Drawing on recent judicial decisions, Deferred Prosecution Agreements, and the DOJ’s and SEC’s Resource Guide, students will explore topics that include: Who is a “foreign official;” what is “corrupt intent;” what constitutes a “reasonable and a bon fide expense;” when does the exception for facilitation payments apply; and what is the knowledge requirement for third parties.  The course will offer practice-oriented exercises to introduce the nuts and bolts of FPCA compliance practice, including on conducting due diligence and performing risks assessments. Students will also discuss when to voluntarily disclose a potential wrongdoing, when to turn to outside counsel for third-party evaluation and when to keep investigations internal.

Law 848:  Insurance Law

Steven Gilford, L ‘78

Students will become familiar with basic issues and concepts of insurance and insurance coverage.  Insurance is a trillion dollar per year industry and impacts in numerous ways on a broad range of commercial and litigation practices.  Assignments and practical discussion items will include key concepts in identifying relevant insurance, understanding insurance policies and the role of insurance in litigation and key areas of commercial transactions such as tax and the interplay of warranties, indemnities and insurance in M&A transactions.

Law 850:  Client Representation: An Immigration Case Study

Jessica Schneider, L ‘09

This course will provide students with a concise, practical walk-through of how to represent a client seeking asylum in the United States in the different stages of the U.S. immigration process.  More than 400,000 cases are currently pending in Immigration Courts around the country, all of which could be appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals and then a U.S. Court of Appeal; many present issues of asylum and protection under the Convention Against Torture.  In a simulation of an actual case, including developing strategy, preparing and examining witnesses, and presenting arguments, students will be assigned roles as counsel for the refugee client; as counsel for the government; as witnesses; or as either an immigration judge or appellate judge.

Law 853:  The Way It All Works: Investing, Negotiating, and Operating in the Real World

James Rhee

Taught from the perspective of a private equity investor, CEO, and law school graduate, this course will provide students the “big picture” of how the universe of pension funds, endowments, limited partners, general partners, and other investors is interwoven, how money is organized, and how lawyers, accountants, and other consultants and advisors fit into the process of raising capital, selling a company, and conducting due diligence.  Students will explore concepts such as valuation (assets vs. enterprise valuation), EBITDA, allocation of risk, hurdle rates, basic financial statement analysis, and other investment-related topics, with a focus on real-world insights into how these principles work in practice.  Through a simulated deal, students will determine the price they want to pay for a hypothetical company and how best to quarterback the documentation to ensure the contract reflects the negotiated value.

Law 856: Investor-State Relations: An Arbitration Case Study

Catherine Gibson, L ’08, and Carlos Jose Valderrama, LLM ‘08

This course will introduce students to current controversies in international commercial and investment-treaty arbitration. Students will develop advocacy skills used by practitioners to resolve international disputes--and to shape the future of these global institutions.

Law 858: Obtaining and Disclosing Electronic Evidence in Criminal Investigations

Shane Stansbury, T ‘95

In today’s digital environment, the collection of electronic data has become one of the principal evidence collection tools used by law enforcement. Prosecutors and investigating agents rely heavily on assistance from corporations, particularly in the technology sector, to identify and gather electronic evidence. The sheer volume of data and law enforcement requests places burdens on companies as they seek to comply with law enforcement while protecting their business interests and the rights of their consumers. These burdens are compounded by the fact that applicable statutes have not kept pace with technology. This course will provide students with an overview of electronic evidence collection and allow them to work through some of the contemporary challenges facing both prosecutors and corporate counsel.

Law 859: Antitrust and Sports

Joe Matelis and Stuart Paynter

This course will begin by examining leading cases dealing with the intersection of sports and antitrust, putting them in the broader context of joint venture analysis and examining whether there are special considerations in the context of sports leagues. Finally, the class will look at common, real-world issues in light of these principles, including but not limited to (1) acquisitions or agreements with competing leagues, (2) venue contracts, (3) licensing deals (4) equipment regulations, and (5) restrictions on athlete (or coaching staff) compensation.

Law 860: Advising Clients on Use of Trademarks and Copyrighted Material

Lisa Simpson, T ’91, L ‘94

This course will focus on the practical application of trademark and copyright law. Using examples from actual disputes, we will discuss how to advise clients who present with questions about whether they can use a particular trademark or copyrighted work. The first phase of this course will focus on trademark and specifically likelihood of confusion and infringement analysis. After a brief overview of trademark law, we will divide into groups to discuss various real-life trademark disputes and develop a plan of advice and strategy for the client in those particular scenarios. The second phase of the course will focus on fair use in copyright infringement. Similar to trademark, we will start with a short introduction to copyright and the fair use analysis, followed by group break-out discussions about certain real world examples and whether the proposed use is a fair use.

Law 862: All About The Benefits:  An Introduction to ERISA and Employee Benefits

Miguel Eaton, L ‘06

Employee benefits (e.g., pension, health & welfare, and disability plans) are significant balance sheet issues for companies and governments alike. This course will provide an introduction to the broad and deep federal statute that governs such issues (ERISA) and explore recent significant events in the field, such as the City of Detroit bankruptcy, the impact of the legalization of same-sex marriage on benefit plans, and pension de-risking transactions.

Law 863: Life or Death: The Decision-Making Process in a Death Penalty Case

Michael McAuliffe

Students will follow how a major state attorney’s office handled death penalty eligible cases from the initial crime scene visit through the conclusion of the case. The course will use a specific case study – the 2009 Thanksgiving Day murders of four family members in Jupiter, Florida – to examine how charging decisions were made, including the legal criteria and other case-related issues. One of the exercises may include having students conduct a mock capital case review in a homicide case. The course also will discuss legislative and executive actions that influence how a prosecutor makes the decision to charge and/or resolve a capital case (including, as an example, the current and very public conflict between the Florida Governor and the State Attorney for the Ninth Circuit in Florida). Finally, the course examines the evolving law relating to jury and judicial decision-making in death penalty cases.

Law 864: Lawyer as International Development Professional

John Simpkins, L ‘99

This course will examine what it means to be a government lawyer working in international development, and provide a practical introduction to the role of attorneys in US development policy and programming. Students will gain an understanding of the global development ecosystem as well as explore specific issues of interest to US governmental actors through presentations, group exercises, and simulations.

Law 865: Designing Creative Legal Solutions

Professor Barak Richman and Professor Jeff Ward, L ’09

Can the law of tomorrow be better than the law of today? Good lawyers help their clients navigate risk. Great lawyers are creative problem solvers who tackle increasingly complex challenges faced by their clients and their communities. In this course, we’ll attack seemingly intractable legal problems to develop real, creative solutions. To allow us to hit the ground running, we’ve pre-identified a focus related to the pressing problem of eviction, which we’ll explore from various stakeholder perspectives. These focus issues will allow us to connect with an on-going eviction diversion project of the Duke Civil Justice Clinic to make a significant impact in Durham. We will deal with real issues in legal service delivery that confront our local community partners. We’ll build upon the design approach of IDEO, a global innovation firm committed to creating disproportionate impact through design, and—along with various community stakeholders—apply their basic approach to pressing legal challenges. Our goals will be to walk away with templates for real creative solutions for our community and real creative mindsets for ourselves.

Law 866: Legal Issues in Media: Case Studies in News and Documentary Production

Patricia Northrop, L ‘97

This course will introduce students to the wide range of legal issues handled by media lawyers, using two different models: the making of a documentary film (i.e., a long term project), and production of a nightly news show (a more fast-paced, deadline-driven endeavor). Students will learn basic principles and how to avoid common pitfalls. The course will also examine the risk management role of in-house counsel when dealing with grey areas.

Law 867: Leadership and Communication in the Law

Paige Gentry, L ‘13, and Elle Gilley, L ‘13

The practice of law functions through teamwork. To be successful and effective in this environment, a lawyer must be able to communicate, collaborate, and lead within her organization. Her success depends on the willingness of others to work with her, work for her, and mentor her. This course recognizes the importance of these internal relationships and aims to prepare students for the communication, teamwork, and leadership required of young practitioners. Through a combination of theory, case studies, and group exercises, students in this course will begin to develop (1) an understanding of their own communication and leadership styles and skills; (2) an understanding of the communication and leadership styles of others; (3) skills to identify how and when to manage up, manage down, and collaborate within a team; (4) skills to effectively manage and work with teams; and (5) best practices for navigating difficult conversations and team dynamics.

Law 868: Commercial Real Estate Transactions and Litigation: A Primer

Joe Creech, L ’04, and Brian Schwalb, T ‘89

Commercial real estate transactions and the litigation they spawn have historically been strong indicators of existing and future market performance.  Whether practicing in the depths of an economic recession or advising clients at the peak of a market cycle, successful real estate attorneys must be adept not only at recognizing legal issues, but also at identifying key business concerns and the related pitfalls their clients are likely to face.  This course will introduce students to the core types of real estate transactions practicing attorneys are likely to encounter, with a particular focus on how certain issues and relationships common in real estate transactions often lead to disputes and litigation.  Real world case studies, as well as select break-out discussion sessions, will be utilized to identify and reinforce key business considerations and transactional/litigation strategy.

Law 869: Negotiating Domestic Violence Policies and Gender Inequality Reform in Professional Sports

Cari Grieb, L ‘06

This course will provide students with the opportunity to study two critical issues facing professional sports leagues and sports governing bodies: (i) inadequate domestic violence policies and (ii) gender inequality in respect of pay, working conditions and employment opportunities (i.e., coaching, scouting, league front office employment and team front office employment).  At the conclusion of the first class, students will participate in a mock collective bargaining session, where they will negotiate domestic violence policies that improve upon the current policies in effect today. The second class will build upon the first, by having students examine barriers women have faced in the sports industry in terms of employment opportunities, adverse working conditions and pay parity with men. After doing a case study on the NFL and its sponsors’ diversity and inclusion efforts, students divide into teams to provide recommendations for improvement among different sports.