Week One: Law in a Global Context
Week One: Law in a Global Context is a one-week, problem-based course that all first-year students must take at the start of the Spring semester. Through lectures, discussion sessions, and simulation exercises, the course introduces students to a complex problem that involves not only U.S. law, but also international and/or foreign law in a transnational setting so they can begin to understand how legal problems increasingly transcend national boundaries and involve more than one legal system. The Week One problems also introduce students to at least one formal decision-making process in addition to the U.S. court system – e.g., international arbitration and foreign courts – and demonstrate the importance of the careful analysis of statutes, regulations, and international agreements, as distinct from analysis of common law cases.
In a simplified but realistic legal setting, students use a closed packet of U.S., international, and/or foreign legal materials to address legal problems that draw from their fall semester courses. The course is taught entirely as a problem-based exercise and has a strong skills component. Students are put in roles and collaborate with others on their team, negotiate with those on opposing sides, and participate in an arbitration or judicial hearing.
Course Structure, Requirements and Attendance
Students are assigned to one of three problems, described below, and are provided with course materials in December, prior to the semester break. Students take their one-credit Week One course on a pass/fail basis. Each section completes about 20 hours of coursework in various settings, including large class lectures and outside speaker sessions. Much of the work is done in small group meetings, sometimes facilitated by full-time faculty, with the assistance of upperclass Global Teaching Fellows. All first-year students are required to participate in Week One; a mandatory attendance policy requires any student who misses a class session, including small group meetings, to be withdrawn and re-enrolled in the course the following year.
Students in the day sections should plan for Week One classes to run from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday the week of January 7-11, 2013. Students in the evening section should plan for Week One classes to run from 5:45 pm to 9:45 pm. All students should plan on a final Friday plenary, which may be scheduled in the evening until 7:15 pm. More information will be provided to students later in the Fall semester. Students should be sure to keep the Week One dates in mind as they make travel plans for January.
Description of Week One Problems
The Week One problems for this academic year will be as follows:
Professors Jane Aiken, Marty Lederman, Naomi Mezey, and Julie O'Sullivan
This problem features an attempt by the United States to secure the extradition of two suspected terrorists who have been indicted in federal court for participating in terrorist acts on U.S. soil. In the initial indictments, the United States seeks the death penalty, a punishment which is likely to make it difficult for the countries in which the defendants now reside – France and Russia – to extradite under the international human rights treaty to which their nations are parties. Specifically, students will be asked to evaluate whether the European Convention on Human Rights bars extradition in the circumstances of the cases, working within an assigned role as counsel for one of the defendants or one of the governments or as a judge on the European Court of Human Rights. They will also participate in a mock oral argument before, or serve as a judge on, the Court in the middle of the week. Finally, students will be asked to explore other means by which the United States might secure custody of the defendants should extraditions be foreclosed by treaty or otherwise denied. At the end of the week, the students will hear from a panel of experts, who in the past have included representatives of the Departments of State and Justice, and federal counterterrorism and national intelligence organizations, on the likely real-life resolution of the issues embedded in the problem.
Professor Julie Ross
This problem involves a French plaintiff and two possible California defendants: a news network that posted an article on its website alleging that the plaintiff used his wine export business to launder money for organized crime figures in Russia and Italy, and a web hosting service that hosts the news network's website. The students will be assigned roles, representing one of the three parties or the neutral decision-makers in the case. On Thursday of Week One, they will engage in a simulated ICDR arbitration hearing in which the advocates will argue, and the neutrals will decide, whether French or United States (or some other) law will govern the dispute. Students will then engage in a mediation session to try to settle the case on the merits. The assigned readings and classroom sessions during the week are designed to prepare the students to engage in the simulated hearing and will introduce the theory and doctrine governing recognition and enforcement of arbitration agreements and awards; recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments; components of defamation law, freedom of expression protections, and limitations on Internet Service Provider liability in several jurisdictions; and choice of law decisions. Faculty members will lead breakout sessions in small groups on two days, and at the end of the week students will have the opportunity to hear from a panel of experienced international litigators, transactional lawyers, arbitrators and faculty, who will help the students integrate the learning experience.
Contracts, Conflicts of Law and Dispute Resolution
Professor Richard Diamond
This problem involves a basic contract doctrine (impracticability or force majeure) that will be featured in several factual variations and procedural postures. The core problem involves a contract for sale of goods (sea barges for use in a major development construction project in Laos). The supplier is a French company; the contracting construction company is American. Students will explore questions of choice of law and choice of forum in a situation where the contract specifies neither and the national laws come to different conclusions on whether a serious change of circumstances (a political event and change of law) makes the contract unenforceable. Students will also explore whether adding an international treaty (the Convention on the International Sale of Goods) helps resolve the matter. The students will engage in a series of exercises demonstrating the variety of processes available to deal with these issues, including international arbitration, international and intercultural negotiation, and enforcement of judgments and international or "foreign" arbitral awards. The week will conclude with a panel of experienced international litigators, transactional lawyers, arbitrators and faculty, who will help the students integrate the learning experience.