Law School Course Areas and Related Classes
WHAT THIS AREA IS ABOUT. All law school courses concern government activity, even if only that of the courts. This group of courses focuses on the overall structure and function of government itself, and considers judicial activity as well as how the courts relate to the legislative and executive branches. These courses are the only part of the curriculum that intensively considers how the legislative and executive branches behave and interact, and how the federal, state, and local levels of government relate and function on their own.
The distinctive skills aspect of this group of courses is their examination of the role of the attorney in appearing before, or operating within, these quite variant units of government. Modern attorneys often function as advisers to the executive branch, when working for a federal or state administrative agency or for a local government. If in private practice, they often appear before an agency on behalf of a client. Similarly, modern legislatures employ many attorneys on their staffs, and a far greater number of attorneys participate in some form of lobbying for their clients, or in public interest work.
BASIC COURSES. Administrative Law develops basic principles of the law of government operation, but does so in the context of examining the federal bureaucracy. Those with a special interest in practicing within or before Texas agencies may go on to Texas Government and Administrative, which includes Texas constitutional and administrative law and basics of Texas local government law, and is offered only occasionally. Those having a special interest in local government law, whether in Texas or elsewhere, will find the most extended treatment of the nature and interrelationship of local government powers in Local Government.
Those students whose Constitutional Law I course has not covered separation of powers issues other than judicial review of statutes should consider taking a course with basic coverage of separation of powers. Administrative Law contains some basic elements of doctrine concerning executive and legislative powers, but it is not comprehensive on this score. Separation of Powers provides more comprehensive coverage, as does The Presidency. Federal Courts, National Security Law, and the seminar of the same name, each address important but specialized separation of powers problems.
PREREQUISITES. There is a sequence here only in a limited sense. Constitutional Law I is prerequisite to everything. Federal Courts is helpful to understanding most of the courses in this group, because of the group's focus on federal litigation and issues of federalism. Administrative Law is very helpful to, if not formally a prerequisite for, some of the other courses (Local Government, Texas Government and Administrative Law). Conflict of Laws covers the interstate judicial system. These are the basic courses, and the ones to take to sample the area if you are not certain of the depth of your interest, or if you wish only a basic grounding.
SPECIALIZED COURSES. The legislative branch is studied in Legislation, Legislative Processes, and the seminar on Legislative Processes, as well as the seminar on Constitutional Law: Political Powers. The state legislature of Texas is the focus of Texas Legislature: Process and Procedure, which is offered on an occasional basis. The Legislative Internship Program also allows students to gain first-hand experience by working in various offices associated with the Texas Legislature.
Advanced problems of administrative law are taken up in the seminar on Administrative Law. Administrative Law is a prerequisite. In addition, students in the Judicial Internship Program can obtain experience with administrative law by interning at the State Office of Administrative Hearing.