Although you’ll find the same basic curriculum everywhere, every law school does things a little differently. BU only has one year-long class, the legal writing seminar, which you get a separate grade for each semester worth 1.5 credit hours. The other fall classes (Torts, Contracts, and Civil Procedure) are each worth 4.0 credit hours. As I’m starting to sink my teeth into spring classes, now seems as good a time as any to look back at the fall…
Torts: When I thought of torts prior to law school, on the rare occasions when I wasn’t actually thinking of tortes the dessert, what came to mind were ambulance chasers and generally distasteful profit from misfortune. I was surprised to find the philosophical underpinnings fascinating. Why does our society place blame and liability where it does? What is the rationale for that? So while the casebook was littered with horrific train accidents, ill-fated dives into shallow pools, skiing mishaps, and one farmer who was eaten by hogs, on the whole I enjoyed it a lot more than I anticipated. Seriously though, stay away from trains.
Contracts: What makes you keep your promises? Short of morality, which is of course unfortunately not always as present as would be ideal, contracts are what holds society together at the most basic level. People lie, people forget, circumstances change: contracts work to mitigate the harm of these occurrences.
Civil Procedure: It isn’t enough just to Know the Law. You also have to know how to apply it. Did you follow the right steps leading up to trial; do you even have the right jurisdiction to be in court in the first place? It’s more than a little important. Oh, and you know that whole pesky federal system we have? It effectively creates two sets of law, state and federal, either or both of which might apply to a given issue. Which takes precedence when they conflict ? Short answer: nobody knows. Long answer: take the course.
Legal Writing: Legal writing and research are the core of what lawyers do. While every section does essentially the same assignments the experience is slanted by whose teaching it. The instructors are predominantly alumni. Mine was an Assistant District Attorney, so our assignments tended to have a criminal law component. Although it has the fewest credits, probably the most valuable course we take.
Bonus: First Time I Was Cold Called
Professor Marshall asked me a question about some litigation involving Burger King. In a moment of horrifying miscomprehension I frantically scoured my notes for “McDonalds”, which obviously turned up no results. He was merciful enough to call on co-counsel and I paid much more attention to which fast food chain was being sued in all following cases as “close” is truly only good enough for horseshoes and hand-grenades (either of which you might read about in a tort case, come to think of it).