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796.20 - The Business of Law
Professor: Deborah Jones Merritt
Semester: 2012 Winter
Second Writing Requirement? Yes
Professional Responsibility? No
Means of Assessment: Paper and Class Participation
Dramatic changes have rocked the legal market in recent years. Outsourcing, global competition, contract lawyers, do-it-yourself websites, and telecommuting are just some of the forces affecting law practice. Clients are pushing lawyers to lower costs, organizations find it more difficult to train lawyers, and students have trouble finding jobs. Yet a vast number of potential clients still lack cost-effective legal assistance. What accounts for these problems? How will the legal profession address them?
It is crucial for lawyers and legal scholars to confront these questions because the legal profession claims an inherent right of self regulation; that right, expressed through the Rules of Professional Conduct, alters the impact of market forces and restricts legislative intervention. The legal profession itself, therefore, must understand and manage the changing market for legal services.
Students will read articles from law, business, psychology, sociology, and other fields to analyze shifts in the market for legal services. They will also share insights with practitioners invited to join several seminar discussions. During the second half of the semester, each student will research, write, and present a paper on an individually selected topic related to the market structure of the legal profession, challenges to that structure, and/or adaptations that organizations might pursue. The professor will offer feedback on a first draft of the paper; students will then revise these papers for their final seminar submission. Grading will depend upon seminar participation (15%) and the final paper (85%).
The course materials listed above are for informational purposes only and should not be considered final. Students must check with the Registrar for a current list of closed courses.