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Law School Course Areas and Related Classes

Commercial Law - see related classes

WHAT THIS AREA IS ABOUT.  Commercial law regulates commerce in goods, services, and credit.  Business people and lawyers have developed different ways to structure the millions of domestic and transnational commercial deal that take place.  Interrelated bodies of law regulate each of these often complicated transactions.  Commercial law courses examine how consumers and businesses buy and sell goods and services in an economy that is heavily based on credit, as well as what happens when buyers or borrowers cannot (or simply do not) pay.

The upper-level commercial law courses heavily emphasize statutory interpretation largely because commercial law is one of the most thoroughly codified subjects in American law.  Even if you do not intend to practice in the area of commercial law, sampling these courses is a good way to develop the analytical techniques needed to interpret and apply statutes.  These skills are important, yet very different from the skills emphasized in most first-year courses.

BASIC COURSES.  Contracts is the first commercial law course you will take.  The basic upper-level commercial law courses are Payment Systems, Secured Credit, and the introductory bankruptcy course (which is offered in a variety of formats).  Payment Systems studies how people and businesses pay for goods and services using devices like cash, checks, credit, and documents that control the timing of payment and delivery so that distant buyers and sellers do not have to trust each other.  Secured Credit studies loans or credit sales where the lender or seller takes an interest in a purchaser's or borrower's property to secure payment of the loan.  Bankruptcy studies what happens when entities either cannot or will not pay their debts and their creditors are brought together in a single proceeding to determine how assets will be divided, debts will be paid, or a business will be liquidated or reorganized.

Another commercial law course, Electronic Commerce, addresses topics that involve the entire commercial-law curriculum.  That is, Electronic Commerce includes materials related to sales, licensing, payment systems, and secured lending.  This course would be especially useful for students who expect to have a commercial law practice involving technology companies or intellectual property issues.

Students need not take all three basic courses unless they expect to specialize in the field.  In general, students will benefit from taking either Payment Systems or Secured Credit and then deciding whether to do further work in the field.

Both Secured Credit and Payment Systems are offered in two formats: as a traditional three-hour course and (sometimes) as a short course.  If you are interested in one or both of these courses principally because of bar examination considerations, you should consider taking one of them as a short course, if available.  We do not advise students to take both of them that way.

Bankruptcy is offered in a variety of formats, though not all courses will be offered every year.  Students will have the opportunity to take a survey bankruptcy course that addresses issues involving both individuals and businesses.  Students also can take a course that focuses on people who have filed for bankruptcy and the rights creditors have under state law to collect debts from people.  Finally, students can take a course that focuses solely on issues involving businesses that file for bankruptcy.

PREREQUESITES.  Secured Credit (either the regular or short-course version) must be taken prior to or concurrently with the survey bankruptcy course, but is not a prerequisite for either Creditors' Rights and Consumer Bankruptcy or Business Bankruptcy.  Students may take both of these latter courses, but cannot take either course if they have taken the survey bankruptcy course.  Likewise, students may not take the survey bankruptcy course if they have taken either Creditors' Rights and Consumer Bankruptcy or Business Bankruptcy.  The survey bankruptcy course is a prerequisite to the seminar on Business Rehabilitation Under the Bankruptcy Code and a prerequisite to the Bankruptcy Workshop.

HOW TO SAMPLE THE AREA.  There are any number of sequences in which to take these courses.  If you want to take Payment Systems, Secured Credit, one of the introductory bankruptcy courses, and the advanced Business Rehabilitation Under the Bankruptcy Code, you will likely need to start taking courses in the fall of your second year.  The first course you would likely take would be either Secured Credit or Payment Systems.  Because Secured Credit is a prerequisite to many of the introductory bankruptcy courses, it would be useful to take that course in your second year.

There are a wide range of views concerning which commercial law course is the most valuable to a lawyer in a general business practice, to a lawyer with a commercial litigation practice, or which course is the more difficult to learn on your own.  Thus, as you consider which courses to take and in which order, you should talk to the professors who teach these courses and they can best give you their views on the commercial law offerings.

SPECIALIZED COURSES.  Students seriously interested in Bankruptcy can take Bankruptcy Workshop simultaneously with Bankruptcy.  Business Rehabilitation Under the Bankruptcy Code is sometimes offered as a course or seminar.  Either or both are recommended for students who want to specialize in the area.  Banking Law, Consumer Credit, Contract Negotiations and Drafting, International Business Transactions, and seminars on commercial law topics are useful specialized courses that might be considered in addition to the basic courses.  You can take many of these courses without taking the basic commercial law courses.

 
Unique # Title Instructor
  29055 Bankruptcy Littwin, A
  29060 Consumer Protection (DTPA) Newburger, M
  28855 Contracts Golden, J
  28860 Contracts Dammann, J
  29885 Corp & Intl Finance & Governance Hu, H
  29890 Credit Cards in Transition Littwin, A
  29147 Land-Use Regulation Rider, B
  29980 Maritime Law: Commercial Problems Sturley, M
  29065 Negotiation Hebert/Fox
  29090 Patent Prosecution Workshop Highlander/Wilson
  29495 Secured Credit Westbrook, J
  29500 Secured Credit Workshop Westbrook, J
  29045 Sports Law Powe, L
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