Law School Course Areas and Related Classes
WHAT THIS AREA IS ABOUT. Perspective courses are courses in which our legal system is studied from the perspective of another discipline — such as history, economics, philosophy, sociology, or psychology — or is compared to another legal system. By viewing our legal system from another perspective, these courses help identify and analyze some of our underlying assumptions about law and legal institutions. These courses also offer insights into the way in which our legal system fits into our culture, ways in which our legal system could be improved, and ways in which an advocate can make better arguments with respect to unresolved problems within our legal system.
The area can be divided into two groups of courses. One group compares our legal system to one or more other legal systems, either generally or within a specific field. These courses suggest alternative methods of solving legal problems and structuring legal institutions. See the discussion of International and Comparative Law for more information on these courses.
A second group of courses is explicitly interdisciplinary. In addition to studying the way our legal system affects and is affected by our culture, many of these courses introduce students to important analytical skills, such as economic analysis or social science methods. Such skills are becoming increasingly important in legal practice; for example, it is increasingly important for lawyers to be able to work with economics and empirical data concerning the effects of legal rules.
PREREQUISITES. Normally, each course stands on its own, so there are no sequences in this area. You should, however, check individual courses for recommendations or required sequences or prerequisites. An advantage of taking a perspective course early is that you can use the insights in courses taken later. You will have more general experience with the legal system in your third year, but usually you do not need specific experience to take any of these courses, so you should feel free to take them.
HOW TO SAMPLE THE AREA. Normally, each course is an introductory course, and each is an appropriate course to sample the area. There is no survey course in this area that samples the material in other, more specific courses.
Many of the courses have overlapping coverage. For example, both American Legal History and Jurisprudence may examine historical schools of thought concerning legal philosophy. Some instructors, however, may not cover this topic in either course. Jurisprudence courses vary widely in their subject matter. Some instructors examine ethical issues that law addresses. Others focus on the ground rules of legal reasoning. Consequently, no general rule exists whether taking one such course precludes taking another. Students should consult individual course descriptions and the instructor to determine the extent of overlapping coverage.
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