Law School Course Areas and Related Classes
WHAT THIS AREA IS ABOUT. This area consists of courses that focus on government regulation of important institutions or important activities. Some major regulatory schemes are the subject matter of whole courses or groups of courses; examples are labor regulation, securities regulation, antitrust regulation, and environmental regulation. There are some common principles and recurring themes in these courses; there are problems common to all or most regulation. But the subject matter regulated is quite disparate, and the regulatory solutions are quite disparate, so that some of the courses in this area have little to do with each other.
One useful distinction in this area is between economic regulation and other regulation. "Economic regulation" is sometimes used to mean regulation of the sort that partially or wholly substitutes for competitive markets: regulation of prices and entry to markets in such industries as utilities, transportation, financial services, and broadcasting. Other regulation may be economic in a broader sense, or it may be more easily thought of as social regulation.
In the last few years, there has been a sharp turn towards deregulation, especially with respect to economic regulation in the strict sense. The debate over deregulation makes this an intellectually exciting time to take some of these courses.
BASIC COURSES. Two courses survey important general principles that apply to a wide range of regulation. These courses are Administrative Law and Regulated Industries. A third course, Texas Government and Administrative Law, samples Texas administrative law. Regulated Industries and Texas Government and Administrative law are offered only occasionally.
Although substance, procedure, and economics are even more inextricably linked in regulatory law than in most other areas, it is generally true that Administrative Law and Texas Government and Administrative Law emphasize procedure, while Regulated Industries emphasizes the substance of existing regulation.
Most regulatory authority is committed in whole or in part to administrative agencies. Administrative Law studies procedure before such agencies and in court proceedings to review the actions of such agencies. Regulated Industries surveys substantive principles of regulation that can be applied in many regulatory contexts. The course draws on examples from many areas, but it gives the most emphasis to economic regulation in the strict sense. Regulated Industries, and many of the specialized courses, also examine the economic consequences of regulation.
PREREQUISITES. There are no prerequisites in this area. There are no organized sequences in this area. There are groups of related courses. Where it makes sense to take a group of courses in a particular order, that order is noted below.
SPECIALIZED COURSES. The other courses in this area focus on particular substantive areas of regulation. Some of these areas are defined by a particular industry that is regulated; others are defined by a particular body of law that applies to many industries.
1. Antitrust Law: Antitrust law protects competition in free markets; it prohibits business practices that inefficiently restrain competition such as price fixing, market allocation, and monopoly. There are two courses in this group: Antitrust and Economic Analysis and the Interpretation of American Antitrust Law. Each gives a basic survey of antitrust law. Antitrust emphasizes the field's case law more, and Economic Analysis and the Interpretation of American Antitrust Law emphasizes economic considerations more. Students may take both courses. Antitrust litigation tends to be a specialized practice, but antitrust courses are also good for generalists. Antitrust problems can arise in almost any business context, and lawyers who help plan business transactions need to be aware of antitrust implications. Advanced courses or seminars such as Antitrust and Intellectual Property are sometimes offered.
2. Labor Law: Labor law regulates relations between employers, employees, and unions. There are two basic courses: Labor Law and Employment Discrimination. Labor Law studies the process of collective bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act. Employment Discrimination studies the right of workers to be hired, paid, promoted, and disciplined without regard to such offensive and irrelevant factors as race, sex, religion, and national origin. It is possible to practice in the collective bargaining area without doing employment discrimination law, or in the discrimination area without doing collective bargaining law. But except for lawyers who represent plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases, such specialization is increasingly difficult. If you want to practice labor law, you should take both courses. It does not matter which order you take them in.
Two other labor law courses are more specialized. Labor Law in the Public Sector studies the rights of public employees, who are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act. This is the fastest growing area in collective bargaining, but it is not yet a fast growing area in Texas because Texas attempts to forbid collective bargaining by public employees. Higher Education and the Law studies the rights of students and faculty in colleges and universities; much of the course is devoted to the constitutional and statutory rights of the faculty as employees.
In addition, there are two courses closely related to labor law in the Torts area: Admiralty and Worker's Compensation. Much of Admiralty, and all of Worker's Compensation, studies the right of employees to be compensated for job-related injuries.
3. Mass Media Regulation: There are two courses in this group: Electronic Mass Media and Mass Communications Law. Electronic Mass Media focuses on the work of the Federal Communications Commission in regulating the television and radio industries. Mass Communications Law studies a broader range of legal problems facing the print and broadcast media. There is little overlap between the two courses. Mass Communications Law briefly examines FCC regulation of editorial decisions, but it does not consider FCC economic regulation, such as allocating station licenses. Students may take both courses and need not take them in any particular order. There is also a seminar in Mass Communications Law.
4. Education Law: Education law may not sound like regulation, because the government largely runs some portions of the educational system itself. But like other courses in the area, this group examines the rules by which a set of large institutions is run, including the extent of institutional and individual autonomy from government regulation. There is one course: Higher Education and the Law. In addition, a seminar on Changing American Schools has been regularly offered in recent years.
5. Medicine and the Law: There are several courses, seminars, and a clinic in this area. Medicine and the Law: Regulation of the Health Care System studies regulation of the health care industry as an industry. Medicine and the Law: Bioethics studies the biomedical technologies that extend life or manipulate its creation. The seminar in Medicine and the Law examines selected topics from either of these areas. The Law and Bioethics seminar focuses each year on a different topic, and in recent years has dealt with death and dying issues; genetic screening and genomics; assisted reproduction; and embryonic stem cell research. The Mental Health Clinic represents persons facing civil commitment to a mental health facility.
6. Securities Regulation: This course in the Business Organizations area is also a classic example of a major regulatory scheme, primarily enforced through state and federal administrative agencies. See the Business Organizations section for more information.
7. Banking Law: Since the Great Depression, banking has been one of the most heavily regulated industries. That is now changing; banking and other financial services are being deregulated to an extent that would have been astonishing just a few years ago. The course in Banking Law is partly devoted to that regulatory scheme and its future, and partly devoted to such commercial law concerns as the process of clearing checks. The proportion of the course devoted to these two quite different areas is likely to vary from year to year.
8. Insurance: The insurance industry is very heavily regulated, primarily through state administrative agencies. The Insurance course can study that regulatory scheme; it can also study the contract rights of policy holders. This course is offered only occasionally. When it is offered, prospective students should consult the course description and the instructor as to how much time will be to devoted to these two areas of insurance law.
9. Immigration: Immigration to the United States is controlled by a detailed regulatory scheme. There is a course, Immigration, and a seminar. The course is prerequisite to the seminar.
10. Environmental Law: A major focus of contemporary regulation is the environment, and courses related to environmental regulation are discussed in the Environmental Law section.
There are a number of clinics and internships that provide students with first-hand experience in the effects of government regulation of important institutions or activities. Relevant clinics include the Environmental Clinic, the Immigration Clinic, the Mental Health Clinic, and the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic. Students in the Legislative Internship Program intern in various offices at the Texas Legislature; students in the Judicial Internship Program can intern at the State Office of Administrative Hearings; and the Nonprofit/Government Internship Program places students in varied placements such as the Attorney General's Office, the Texas Civil Rights Project, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Public Utility Commission and others.
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