ECONOMIC JUSTICE CLINIC
(ADVOCACY AND LEGAL SKILLS – 9010/9020)
8 credits: 4 in Fall, 4 in Spring
The Economic Justice Clinic is a two-semester clinical program available to second and third year law students and evening students after their third semester if they can work in the clinic during the day. St. John's University is partnering with New York Legal Assistance Group ("NYLAG") to give students the opportunity to learn the basics of economic justice and the law, including how to address the needs of low income, disabled, and homeless New Yorkers attempting to navigate the social safety net. Students will be taught basic legal advocacy skills, substantive areas of public benefits law (formerly known as "poverty law" practice), and how to assist individuals obtain and maintain their public benefits (including food stamps, public assistance, Medicaid, housing subsidies, and others). Skills taught will include how to represent public benefits recipients at due process hearings and challenging adverse agency actions discontinuing, reducing or denying them these benefits. Students will have a wide variety of opportunities to interact with the economic justice community in New York City, and will represent clients at fair hearings under the supervision of an attorney in the public benefits practice at NYLAG, a major legal services provider organization. They will also learn how to provide pro se assistance and legal information to clients at a legal help desk in the central fair hearing center for New York City alongside seasoned welfare advocates and benefits lawyers from Project FAIR, a coalition of legal services and social service organizations. Seminar classes will be held at both NYLAG and St. John's. The grade will be based upon the student's overall performance in the clinic.
EDUCATION LAW SEMINAR
(EDUCATION LAW - 1000)
This seminar examines the interaction of courts, the legislature, and administrative agencies in setting educational policy and enforcing legal rights under federal and New York State Law. Emphasis is placed on the civil rights and civil liberties of students and teachers as well as on the limitations of legal institutions in solving complex social and educational problems. Areas to be explored include tenure, certification issues, employment and labor relations, academic freedom, church state issues, censorship, compulsory education, rights of disabled students, student discipline, discrimination and school finance reform. Students present their papers to the class. Grades are based upon class participation, a research paper and in-class presentation of the paper.
(TRUSTS AND ESTATES – 1080)
As the population ages, Elder Law is an increasingly important part of American jurisprudence. This course will examine the law as it relates to the elderly. It will cover the ethics implicated in representing an elderly client, advance directives (powers of attorney, living wills and health care proxies), Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 guardianships, Medicaid and Medicare, trusts (including special needs trusts), Veteran’s Benefits, Social Security, fair hearings and several miscellaneous topics. Pre-requisite: TRUSTS & ESTATES.
ELECTION LAW & POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
(INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS - 2030)
This course will explore the regulation of the right to vote and other aspects of political participation through an examination of case law and specific constitutional and statutory frameworks. The goal of the course is to engage students in a critical analysis of the legal framework and social and political landscape that underpin political participation in the United States. In particular, the course will explore the legal history of the franchise, legal and practical limitations on its current use, the role of race in the electoral process, and the ways in which voting and the regulation of political participation affect the balance of power in America. The course will dissect major Supreme Court cases on topics of voting rights, reapportionment/redistricting, ballot access, regulation of political parties, and the 2000 presidential election controversy, and campaign finance. In addition, the course will cover key voting rights legislation, such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965, et seq., the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, and the 2002 Help American Vote Act. Grades will be based on a final examination, an in-class presentation, and in-class participation. Pre-requisite: CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
(STATE AND FEDERAL PRACTICE - 3050)
This course examines the area of litigation known as E-Discovery. More than 90% of information is now created in electronic form. Electronically stored information (“ESI”), which includes email, word documents, spreadsheets, social media information, and various database applications, has created a rapidly growing area of law. This course will cover electronic document retention policies; the preservation, collection, review and production of electronic evidence during the course of pre-trial litigation; and privilege waiver, privacy, spoliation, and evidentiary admissibility issues. The 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and an array of local and state rules that have emerged in response to these issues have brought Electronic Discovery to the forefront of litigation practice. This course will review federal and New York e-discovery case law. Students will gain an in-depth understanding of the legal issues affecting ESI and the best practices for attorneys working with such information. Grades will be based on an in-class midterm consisting of a simulated discovery conference with a writing assignment component, and a final examination.
Pre-Requisite: CIVIL PROCEDURE
(LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT LAW - 1020)
This course studies the federal, state, and local laws and executive orders prohibiting employment discrimination with focus on problems of proof, and remedies for violation. Grades are based upon an examination.
(LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT LAW - 1010)
This course concentrates on employment-related rights and benefits not covered in the basic and advanced labor law courses. Areas of analysis include state and federal statutory schemes for disabling injuries and diseases (Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability Benefits), workers safety and health (OSHA), and pensions (ERISA and Social Security Retirement Benefits). Employment-at-will is also explored. The coordinating themes throughout the course are the historical and the theoretical bases for employment-related social legislation and an ongoing inquiry into the fundamental nature of employment itself. Grades are based upon a final examination.
ENRON, ETHICS & BANKRUPTCY
(BANKRUPTCY LAW - 4020)
The case study approach will be used to investigate the high profile corporate scandals that have caused so many recent large bankruptcies. Using the Enron fiasco as its focus, the course will examine the causes and consequences of Enron's failure from business, financial, legal and ethical perspectives. Students will be required to select a topic and prepare a paper related to the implications of corporate scandal. Class participation is required and may be factored into the final grade.
(INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY - 1020)
This course will explore the protection and exploitation of generally intangible literary, musical and artistic property through a thorough analysis of the legal framework of the entertainment industries. Using basic doctrines of contract, copyright and labor law, the course will show how an entertainment concept is developed, copied, distributed and protected from unauthorized duplication. Antitrust, tax and other commercial questions will be treated. Sample agreements will be analyzed. Grades are based upon a research paper.
(ENVIRONMENTAL LAW - 1000)
This course covers the legal responses to current environmental problems, including climate change, air and water quality, toxic substances, solid and hazardous waste and the preservation of parks, wetlands and the habitats of endangered species. The course starts with the common law of nuisance and the public trust doctrine, foundations of the current law. It then traces the development of federal and state environmental statutes and the administrative law that governs agencies implementing these statutes’ provisions. Grades are based upon a final examination.
(TRUSTS AND ESTATES - 1010)
This course is intended to give the student a practical knowledge of the Surrogate's Court Procedure Act and such related statutes as affect recurring problems in the administration of decedents' estates, with specific reference to the probate of wills, the issuance of letters testamentary, letters of administration and letters of temporary administration, collection of estate assets, payment of expenses and debts, general investment power of fiduciaries, allocation of trust funds between trust principal and trust income, apportionment of estate taxes, compensation of fiduciaries and attorneys, and ultimate distribution and accounting. The object of the course is to provide the fundamental working knowledge pre-requisite to the legal representation of estate fiduciaries. Grades are based upon a final examination. Pre-requisite or Co-requisite: TRUSTS AND ESTATES
ESTATE ADMINISTRATION - LITIGATION
(TRUSTS AND ESTATES - 1020)
This course examines litigation in complex will contests (with or without juries); will construction litigation; settlement negotiations; proper procedures in probate, tax, and estate accounting; the handling of charitable and other dispositions in trusts; the approach to appellate practice in estates, trusts, and related matters. Grades are based upon a research paper. Pre-requisite or co-requisite: TRUSTS AND ESTATES
(TRUSTS AND ESTATES - 1030)
This course uses assigned problems to explore tax and other factors to be considered in intervivos and testamentary dispositions to transfer accumulated wealth, including traditional assets and non-testamentary assets such as employee benefits and insurance. Federal estate and gift tax law, some elder law and the substantive law of trusts and estates are integrated into the syllabus. Grades are based upon a final examination. Pre-requisite or co-requisite: TRUSTS AND ESTATES
EUROPEAN LEGAL HISTORY
(INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE LAW - 3060)
A survey course on the development of continental European law from the promulgation of Justinian's Corpus Juris Civilis in the mid-6th century to the creation of the Napoleonic Code at the beginning of the 19th century. This broad period of European history witnessed the confluence of several streams of law--most notably Roman law, canon law, and national customary law--each contributing to the creation of the hallmark institution of the continental legal systems: the civil codes. With emphasis on the study of original sources supplemented by secondary texts, attention will be given to an examination of the reinvigoration of the study of Roman law by the medieval Glossators culminating in the Magna Glossa of Accursius. The emergence of canon law and Romano-canonical procedure will be studied, as will the importance of early indigenous customary law such as Aethelbert's Law and the Burgundian Code. The emergence and development of the law merchant as a primary enabler for international economic growth will be discussed. The work of the civil law Commentators and the emergence of national legal institutions in the 14th and 15th centuries will be considered, as will the homologation of customary law and the enactment of the grandes ordannances in France. Finally, the influence of early modern political and legal thought will be examined in the context of the movement toward codification in the 17th and 18th centuries, culminating in Napoleon's landmark codification of the French civil law. As this is a rather large body of material, the course will concentrate on tracing the development throughout this period of three selected areas of the law--ownership of wild animals (res nullius), witness procedure, and the law of sales. Comparisons to parallel developments in the common law will be made as appropriate, but the focus will remain on continental Europe. The course will also place legal developments within their broader social-historical context. All readings and supplementary materials will be in English. No prior knowledge of Roman law is required, as the course will begin with a brief survey of the development of Roman law up to Justinian. A final exam will be used to evaluate performance, as will class preparation and participation.
(STATE AND FEDERAL PRACTICE - 2090)
This course studies the rules of evidence that govern judicial proceedings in federal and state courts. Subjects covered include relevance, real and demonstrative evidence, judicial notice, burdens of proof, presumptions, competency of witnesses, examination of witnesses, character evidence and related problems, the hearsay rule and its exceptions, opinion evidence, expert witnesses, foundation and authentication, the best evidence rule, and privileges. Grades are based upon a final examination.
EXECUTORY CONTRACTS IN BUSINESS BANKRUPTCY
(BANKRUPTCY LAW - 5050)
This course examines the treatment of executory contracts in bankruptcy. The course will cover the basic rules governing assumption, rejection and assumption and assignment, and the course will explore the motivations of the parties. Evaluation will be based on an examination, but class participation may be factored into the final grade. Pre-requisite for J.D. students: CREDITORS' RIGHTS or BUSINESS BANKRUPTCY REORGANIZATIONS.
(ADVOCACY AND LEGAL SKILLS - 2015)
Students work 140 hours in preapproved externship placements under the guidance of carefully selected mentor attorneys. It is expected that students will be integrated into all aspects of the legal setting, assist the mentor-attorneys in their day-to-day legal activities, and receive research, writing and other legal assignments. The course is graded on a pass-fail basis. Co-requisite: EXTERNSHIP SEMINAR, EXTERNSHIP SEMINAR–ADVANCED, or SUMMER EXTERNSHIP SEMINAR.
(ADVOCACY AND LEGAL SKILLS - 2025)
This 2-credit seminar is required when a student is taking an Externship Placement for the first time during the fall or spring semesters. The students will be required to submit time sheets and a written reflection on their work at the placement. The first thirty minutes or so of each class will be devoted to the students’ reflections. That discussion will include ethics, confidentiality, workplace environment (including collaboration) and professionalism. The balance of the course will cover lawyering skills, including fact investigation and evaluation; interviewing and counseling; writing letters and emails; writing a 2000-word research paper (approximately 8 pages) of the type that would appear in a practice-oriented bar journal; and oral skills, such as presenting work to the mentor-attorney or judge, discussing the pros and cons of a case, orally synthesizing the law and the facts to tell an effective story, speaking assertively, communicating effectively to clients, and presenting the research paper.
30%: 8-page practice-oriented paper
15%: oral presentation on paper
15%: interviewing, counseling and fact-investigation exercises
20%: practice-writing assignments
5%: class participation
Co-requisite: EXTERNSHIP PLACEMENT.
EXTERNSHIP SEMINAR – ADVANCED
(ADVOCACY AND LEGAL SKILLS - 2035)
This 1-credit seminar is required for students enrolled in an Externship Placement in the fall or spring who have previously taken the two-credit Externship Seminar, and for students enrolled in the Externship Placement in the summer who have already taken the Summer Externship Seminar. It will meet for seven weeks, two hours per class (every other week during the 14-week semester, and every week during the summer semester). The student will be required to keep time sheets and a written reflection on their work at the placement. The first thirty minutes or so of each class will be devoted to the students’ reflections. That discussion will include advanced issues of ethics, confidentiality, workplace environment (including collaboration) and professionalism. The balance of the course will focus on advanced lawyering skills, including fact investigation and evaluation; interviewing and counseling; writing letters and emails; writing a 1000-word research paper (approximately 4 pages) of the type that would appear in a practice-oriented bar journal; and oral skills, such as presenting work to the mentor-attorney or judge, discussing the pros and cons of a case, orally synthesizing the law and the facts to tell an effective story, speaking assertively, communicating effectively to clients, and presenting the research paper.
35%: 4 page practice-oriented paper
20%: practice-writing assignments
20%: interviewing, counseling and fact-investigation exercises
5%: class participation
Mandatory: Time sheets with reflections
Co-requisite: EXTERNSHIP PLACEMENT