Fall Courses 2013
(Click on the blue hyperlink to go to the online course description)
Advocating with and on behalf of People with Developmental Disabilities: Contemporary Issues, Challenges, and Legal Advocacy Opportunities
(Leveton, Erin: field placement is pass/fail; 3, 4, or 5 credits)
This practicum course will give a detailed overview of the complex laws that govern the rights and restrictions of people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities, with a focus on the laws of the District of Columbia. According to the World Health Organization, up to three percent or almost 200 million people of the world's population have intellectual disabilities, making it the largest disability category in the world. The course materials will cover substantive law, theory, and real world advocacy methods beyond those practiced in the courtroom. Students will develop practical legal and advocacy skills while working directly with and for people with developmental disabilities in the District through a field placement at the Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities.
Animal Protection Litigation Seminar
(Lovvorn, Jonathan; field placement is pass/fail; 4 credits)
This practicum course explores the process of animal protection litigation in an effort to better understand the status and treatment of animals in the courts. Focusing on both reported cases and actions now pending before state and federal courts, the seminar will address the complex nature of litigation concerning animals; explore the unique ethical issues confronting lawyers practicing animal law; discuss the development and nature of strategic animal protection litigation; describe the investigation and construction of animal protection cases; explore the limits of public and private enforcement of animal laws; analyze successful and unsuccessful past cases concerning captive and companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife; discuss available injunctive and monetary remedies; and explore innovative uses of existing laws to expand legal protection of animals.
Child Welfare Law and Practice in the District of Columbia
(Judge Juliet McKenna; field placement is pass/fail; 4 credits)
This course will focus on the workings of the child welfare system in the District of Columbia. Students will study Supreme Court and District of Columbia cases defining the fundamental nature of the parent/child relationship and setting forth when state intervention is warranted to protect the best interests of the child. Students will gain an understanding of the various stages of child protection proceedings and the different roles, responsibilities and professional relationships of the attorneys representing the government, the child and the parents at each stage. Issues concerning interracial and gay adoption will be discussed, as will the overrepresentation of poor and minority youth in the child welfare system. Students will participate in field work with a child welfare related organization and share their experiences with the class and through written reflection memos. Students will conduct mock direct and cross-examinations and prepare opening and closing arguments.
NEW -- Election Law
(Hebert, Gerald; Smith; field placement is pass/fail; 4 credits)
This course will involve a review of the case law in the area of campaign finance regulation and voting rights, with opportunities to draft legal papers and briefs in pending cases. In the area of campaign finance law, the focus will be on the law governing the disclosure of funds expended to influence elections. A number of regulations promulgated by the Federal Election Commission govern when independent groups must register as federal political committees and comply with the applicable restrictions and disclosures under FECA. Cases challenging these regulations as violative of the First Amendment have proliferated in the post-Citizens United world. There have also been recent cases challenging the restrictions on corporate contributions to candidates on grounds that the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United rendered the federal restriction on corporate contributions unconstitutional. This practicum course will give students the opportunity to explore and weigh the governmental interests involved in the laws requiring disclosure of election spending and limitations imposed on contributions.
In the area of voting rights, the course will examine the state of voting rights law in light of Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder. These are among the questions addressed in the course, which, depending on cases pending at the time, will involve a wide range of election cases raising important constitutional and statutory interpretation.
Gender, Sexual and Reproductive Health
(Cabrera, Oscar; All graded; 4 credits)
The course will focus on the interaction between international human rights law and sexual and reproductive health. The seminar will begin by providing an overview of the international human rights law as it pertains to sexual and reproductive rights. Then, the course will focus on access to reproductive health from an international perspective, examining States' obligations in a variety of issues, such as maternal mortality or access to information on reproductive health matters. Finally, students will learn through coursework about other sexual and reproductive health issues linked to the right to dignity, autonomy and bodily integrity, such as rape as a means of torture and forced sterilization. On the experiential/field-work side, students will work with external partners on legal and policy projects related to sexual and reproductive health. Students will learn how to conduct a legal analysis of existing legal and regulatory frameworks for sexual and reproductive health from a human rights perspective. Students will also learn how to use epidemiological data to support and craft compelling human rights law arguments for advancing public policy on, for example, maternal mortality and sexual violence prevention and eradication. Students will develop practical projects using international human rights law to advocate for the advancement of sexual and reproductive health rights.
Human Rights at the Intersection of Trade and Corporate Responsibility
(Altschuler, Sarah; Biel, Eric; Roggensack, Meg; All graded; 5 credits)
Over the past two decades, corporations have found themselves at the center of a growing discussion about their appropriate roles and responsibilities in addressing a range of human rights issues. Non-governmental organizations have led the push for stronger rules to govern the relationship between business and human rights. At the same time, an increasing number of companies have engaged in a range of voluntary initiatives addressing workplace standards and labor practices, environmental stewardship, corruption concerns, and other issues. These companies have seen such initiatives as a framework for managing risk (including the threat to reputation and of regulation or litigation), a potential source of competitive advantage (given growing interest in industry "best practices"), and as promoting a more level playing field. This class is designed to expose and involve students in addressing the challenges facing business in integrating the emerging international norms on corporate accountability. In the practicum component, students will work with a new initiative under the auspices of one of the most well-established multi-stakeholder initiative, the Fair Labor Association, conducting legal research on existing hard and soft law mechanisms and gaps, conducting interviews with stakeholders, helping to identify goals and impediments as well as areas of possible consensus, and developing creative strategies to address these concerns. PROFESSOR PERMISSION REQUIRED TO ENROLL.
Law & Entrepreneurship
(Cook, Anthony; field placement is pass/fail; 5 credits)
The objective of this practicum is to explore the lawyer's role as counsel to entrepreneurs in early-stage ventures. In the 15 hr/wk field placement component, supervised by practicing attorneys, students research issues and advise student entrepreneurs affiliated with the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative as well as various community empowerment and economic development initiatives in the area. Students will typically develop a portfolio of 3-5 projects across the semester. In the classroom component, students survey the legal issues confronted by entrepreneurs and develop the practical skills to effectively and ethically represent them. Students study how to interview, counsel, plan, draft, and negotiate, by critiquing others and simulating those skills in the context of client matters and classroom exercises. They discuss client work through case rounds and seminar readings. Topics consist of the following: the entrepreneurial mindset; the issues confronted by social and business entrepreneurs—similarities and differences; evaluating the key elements of a business plan; choosing and forming the right business entity; ownership and control—aligning the interests of founders, key employees, and investors; governance issues—building and advising the board of directors; employment agreements; capital structure and vehicles for funding the entity; securing and monetizing intellectual property.
The Law of Open Government: Litigation Under the Freedom of Information Act
(Rotenberg, Marc; McCall, Ginger; All graded; 4 credits)
In the seminar portion of the class, students will be given (1) an overview of the federal open government law; (2) training in FOIA requests, appeals, and litigation; (3) experience pursuing actual FOIA matters in various stages of the litigation process; and (4) practical tips and strategies to become an effective FOIA attorney. Topics to be covered include the history of the FOIA, understanding the FOIA (key terms, the exemptions, statutory time limits), perfecting the request and identifying the appropriate agency, understanding agency FOIA regulations, the standard for expedition and the public interest standard, the "Glomar" problem, requester strategies, the role of the media, fee determinations, and fee recovery. Guest lectures will include local practitioners pursuing significant FOIA cases. For the practicum portion of the class, students will draft, submit, and pursue a well–researched and well-crafted Freedom of Information Act request. To make this possible, students will be expected to complete several written assignments, including (1) a case memo describing the FOIA request the student is interested in pursuing, (2) a FOIA request to a government agency, (3) an Administrative Appeal that responds to the response (or lack thereof) received from the agency; and (4) other written work product.
Low-Wage and Excluded Workers: Their Rights and the Challenges
(Conti, Judy; Jacob, Fred; field placement is pass/fail; 4 credit )
There are large groups of workers who either by virtue of their wage earning capacity, their immigration status, or the type of work they perform who face uphill battles in securing basic labor and employment rights and protections. This course will examine many of the most central issues in labor and employment law from the point of view of those groups of workers, concentrating on the strategies and tools available to protect their rights to the maximum extent possible. Students will learn to dig deeper into labor and employment law, and examine the short-comings of both fields as they pertain to the most vulnerable and marginalized workers in our society. They will learn to think and act creatively when representing marginalized people, examine what levers exist to impact public policy and access to justice for such workers, and will all gain experience with oral advocacy and critical research and legal analysis. Students will be able to choose from placements at local workers' rights organizations, labor unions and government agencies. All projects will endeavor to integrate research/writing with some component of field work.
New – Mediation
(Juliano, Jane; field placement is pass/fail; 4 credits)
Mediation skills have become essential for attorneys working in all areas of practice. Clients are demanding cost-effective ways to resolve problems without litigation, and many courts require litigants to attempt resolution prior to trial. This course will teach the fundamentals of best practices for the mediation of legal disputes. The students will first learn mediation practice and then have the opportunity to work on progressively more difficult cases that have been filed with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC). The classroom seminar portion will be a four day version of the six day Mediation Seminar taught for the past ten years by Jane Juliano and Sandra Sellers at Georgetown Law School. Class readings and lectures draw on the latest work of prominent practitioners and researchers, exploring the legal, practice, contextual and ethical issues that comprise and inform a skilled mediator's work. Students will work in a series of mediation exercises and simulations, playing the parts of mediator, parties and attorneys. The varied roles will give the student the opportunity to observe and receive immediate feedback from all perspectives. In the field component, the students will work with several different OSC units to resolve complaints of Prohibited Personnel Practices and violations of the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
Monopolies, Competition and the Regulation of Public Utilities
(Hempling, Scott; All graded; 4 credits)
The law of public utility regulation supports and disciplines the nation's electricity, gas, telecommunications and water industries. Regulatory lawyers operate at the intersection of multiple professions (economics, finance, accounting, management, engineering and politics); jurisdictions (50 states and several federal agencies); and ideologies (e.g., private vs. public ownership, government intervention vs. "free market"). Regardless of the industry or era, public utility regulation has three common elements: its mission (to align corporate behavior with the public interest), its body of law (ranging from state law on monopoly franchises to federal constitutional protection of shareholder investment), and its flexibility (accommodating monopolistic and competitive market structures). Today's policymakers are stretching utility law to address frontier problems, such as climate change (Should we require utilities and their customers to reduce and "green" energy production and consumption?); universal service (Should we bring broadband to every home?); homeland security (How vulnerable is utility infrastructure?); and privacy (Can regulators induces changes in personal energy consumption without expose personal consumption data?). A constant is state-federal tension over jurisdiction (e.g., Which aspects of utility service are "national," requiring uniformity; and which are "local," warranting state experimentation?).
New -- Prison Litigation and Advocacy
(Golden, Deborah; field placement is pass/fail, 5 credits)
This practicum seminar will introduce students to the legal concepts, administrative and ethical challenges and public debates concerning this country's exponential growth of problem-solving courts. State and some federal courts are reforming conventional courtrooms and designing specialty dockets to reduce recidivism and the devastating impact of behavioral health disorders, addiction and other daily challenges faced by parties before them. Although varying in their methodology, most of these courts are based upon the premise that problems arising from criminal (and some civil) cases should be solved, not simply adjudicated. Unlike conventional courtrooms, judges and attorneys may place greater emphasis on results-driven proceedings, individually tailored sentencing, social service interventions, cross-agency partnerships and uniquely trained judicial officers.
In addition to engaging the lively theoretical debate over the benefits and risks of modifying adversarial principles, this course will closely examine how problem solving courts look in practice. Some of the specialty courts operating in the District of Columbia include Juvenile Behavioral Diversion, Family Treatment, Adult Mental Health, Drug and Fathering Courts. Problem solving principles have also been incorporated within DC's Community Courts, or criminal courtrooms dedicated to adjudicating cases from designated neighborhood wards.
Although problem solving courts number in the thousands nationwide, their future is still undetermined as their methodologies, procedures and effectiveness are still under development. Students will have the rare opportunity to critically engage the tools of procedural justice and the experiences of attorneys in both conventional and reformed courtrooms in order to make their own conclusions as to the value of problem solving courts.
Public Interest Lawyering: Access to Health Care
(Loubier, Erin; field placement is pass/fail; 3 credits)
This course explores public interest lawyering and the critical role that safety net benefits play in assisting low-income people access health care in the United States. Using fundamental lawyering skills – client intake, counseling, outreach, negotiation, and advocacy skills, we will focus on Social Security disability benefits, Medicare, and Medicaid – the key government programs that provide assistance to economically vulnerable people. Using the District of Columbia (and its surrounding jurisdictions for comparison), students will examine eligibility rules, the benefits (and coverage) provided by these programs, and issues that arise requiring advocacy and appeal. The practicum part of this course will focus on the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit and its annual open enrollment season. Medicare beneficiaries should review their prescription drug needs each year to confirm that their particular Part D plan will meet their needs for the following year. The Medicare Part D open enrollment season illustrates the technical eligibility and benefits concepts presented throughout the semester, the complex system that individuals must navigate in order to access care in our country, and the importance of strong client interviewing and counseling skills to educate and advise clients about these issues. The course materials and practicum will provide a technical and practical foundation for students interested in pursuing a career in legal services and/or public policy affecting low income populations and their ability to access health care.
Racial Discrimination in International Law
(Vasquez, Carlos; All graded; 3 credits)
This practicum class will focus on the work of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), of which Professor Vázquez is a member. The Committee monitors compliance with the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin. Students in the practicum will investigate the situation of the minority groups protected by the Convention in the specific countries being scrutinized by CERD in its forthcoming session. Each student will focus on one country, although sometimes students will work in teams. Students will examine the report submitted to the CERD by the relevant country, as well as "shadow reports" submitted by non-governmental organizations and the relevant reports of the U.N. Human Rights Council and other relevant human rights treaty bodies. In addition, students will identify and interview persons with expertise in the countries being scrutinized. On the basis of their documentary research and interviews, the students will then write their own "shadow report" concerning the situation of the minority groups within the relevant country. Each student will present his or her work to the class through a simulation of his or her country's presentation of its report to CERD.
The Right to Counsel: Entitlements, Limits and the Client Experience
(Brink, Malia; All graded; 4 credits)
What does it mean when a police officer says "if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you"? Since 1963, the Sixth Amendment right to counsel has been interpreted to require the states to provide counsel to any defendant who cannot afford to hire an attorney. The right to counsel thus became an entitlement right, which is very rare in the U.S. Constitution. In this seminar, we will explore the evolution and current parameters of the right to counsel, including: when counsel must be provided; what quality guarantee, if any, the right includes; impediments to the full functioning of the right; and efforts to expand the scope of the right. In the experiential part, we will explore how the right to counsel is experienced by those facing criminal charges by interviewing individuals who were represented by attorneys provided at public expense. The goals of the class are to understand the parameters of the right to counsel and issues regarding its implementation at both the macro and micro levels; to develop core practical skills including interviewing techniques and oral presentation skills; and to extrapolate lessons regarding the implementation of other entitlements and the role and ability of government.
NEW -- Technology, Innovation and Law Practice: Regulatory Agencies and Compliance
(Rostain, Tanina; Nourse, Victoria; Mulcahy, Kevin; field placement is pass/fail; 4 credits)
Administrative law tends to be a course on how courts treat administrative agencies, rather than on how those agencies actually work. This new practicum will allow students to see an agency "in action," rather than from the rear view mirror of a courtroom. Administrative law concepts such as "formal rulemaking," "informal rulemaking," as well as the myriad of ways in which agencies act outside the standard model (advisories, letter rulings etc.) will come to life in a course where the students are actually injected into agencies to see how they solve problems and how their actions affect the subjects of regulation (here NGOs). With more than 400 federal agencies and thousands of lawyers practicing in executive and independent agencies, regulatory agencies offer a large and varied landscape for law students to explore. By learning about particular agency problems and solutions, students will also gain insight into some of the larger questions posed by administrative law, such as whether independent agencies are truly independent, and whether deference is in fact owed to agencies based on their expertise.
While class meetings are devoted to the varied ways that different agencies conduct their work, the experiential part of the course will focus on collaborating with regulatory agencies to develop apps that streamline regulatory practice or increase the public's access to laws and regulation. Working in a platform that requires no coding expertise, students will explore the potential of automated legal guidance systems to enhance the responsiveness and efficiency of agency work. We anticipate projects across a range of agencies, which might include the EEOC, SEC, EPA, OSHA, FCC, FDA, HHS, SSA and CFPB (the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). (As an alternative to agency placements, student teams may be assigned to working with NGO's and non-profit organizations to develop regulatory compliance systems. Possible projects could include: assisting transnational NGOs to develop systems to comply with the Patriot Act, or LSC grantees to develop systems to comply with funding regulations.) The course culminates in a design contest: The Georgetown Iron Tech Lawyer Competition.