Academics

ELDER LAW (ESTA-310) 3 credits
As our population has aged, and the complexity of legal needs has grown, a new area of practice has emerged--Elder Law. This course will examine the major issues affecting the elderly: income and asset protection, financing health care, long term care options, planning for incapacity, and elder abuse/exploitation. We will also look at common ethical considerations and concerns in representing older clients. We will take a practice-oriented approach, using hypotheticals, role playing, and real case examples to examine how to best advise and represent our elder clients.

No prerequisites.

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EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION (EMPL-315) 3 credits
This course covers legal prohibitions against employment discrimination based on one's race, color, religion, sex, origin, age, and mental or physical ability. Sweeping changes have been made recently in the law of workplace discrimination. A large percent of the Supreme Court's docket in recent terms consisted of employment and labor cases. The world's first comprehensive declaration of equal treatment for persons with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act, added 43,000,000 Americans to the groups protected against job discrimination and is profoundly impacting hiring and job assignment. There are differing opinions about what it means to "discriminate" based on factors such as sex, age, and race. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 triggers passionate response from proponents and opponents, and now provides for compensatory and punitive damages. This course addresses such issues arising from legislation forbidding employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, and physical ability.

No prerequisites.

 

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EMPLOYMENT LAW (EMPL-300) 3 credits
This is a survey course designed to provide students with a conceptual and practical overview of the law of the modern workplace. We will examine employer and employee rights and responsibilities and how courts, lawmakers, and regulators shape this dynamic. During the course, we will place current issues in historical context and cover such topics as: who is an employee (vs. an independent contractor, intern, etc.); laws regulating the hiring process; employer best practices; the employment at-will doctrine and its exceptions; torts by employers against employees and by employees against third-parties; employment agreements; arbitration of employment disputes; workplace investigations; workplace privacy, speech, and social media issues; regulation of off-work activities; implied duty of loyalty, trade secrets, and noncompetition covenants; minimum wage, overtime, and related wage and hour issues; leaves of absence and reasonable accommodation; workplace safety; and severance, unemployment compensation, and related termination issues.

No prerequisites.

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ENTERTAINMENT LAW (INTP-325) 2 credits
This survey course examines the legal and business dimensions of the entertainment industry, with an emphasis on film and television. The course will examine the business structures and financial arrangements commonly employed. The course will cover many of the practical aspects of the field, including employment agreements, multi-party negotiations, and the acquisition of rights to literary properties, while also examining the underlying theories related to the intellectual property, labor/employment, and other issues raised.

No prerequisites.

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ENVIRONMENTAL ENFORCEMENT (ENVL-395) 2 credits
Environmental laws would matter little if not enforced. This course will introduce students to three formal mechanisms for enforcing environmental laws: administrative proceedings, civil litigation, and criminal prosecution. Through the framework of these three enforcement mechanisms, the course will focus on enforcement of major federal pollution statutes to protect land, air, water, and public health. Special topics in environmental enforcement will include federal facilities, citizen suits, and transboundary pollution. Reading materials will include judicial opinions as well as a variety of agency enforcement filings from cases concerning the Northwest. 

Recommended but not required: Administrative Law (ADMN-300) and Environmental Law Fundamentals (ENVL-300).

 

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW FUNDAMENTALS (3 credits) ENVL-300
This course will introduce students to the major federal laws aimed at protecting the human and natural environments. While discussing some policy issues throughout the semester, the course will focus on the environmental laws as they exist today. After considering some foundations in constitutional and administrative law, the course will proceed to examine the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and hazardous waste regulation. The course will also include introductions to the federal Superfund statute, to the Endangered Species Act, and to international environmental law.

No prerequisites.

 

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ESSENTIAL LAWYERING SKILLS: PERSUASIVE COMMUNICATION, INTERVIEWING, AND DEPOSITIONS (ADVC-500) 1 credit
This course will combine readings, lectures, demonstrations and workshops to teach students case analysis, communication and persuasive skills, witness interviewing and preparation, and taking and defending depositions. Students will also be introduced to new forms of technology that lawyers use in developing and implementing a litigation plan.

No prerequisites.

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ESTATE AND DISABILITY PLANNING CLINIC (ESTA-400, former title: Trusts & Estates Clinic)  4 credits
Students represent low-income elder or disabled clients who are in need of planning for end of life/death, a possible future inability to make health care or financial decisions, and options for planning for financing costly long term care needs. Students advise clients facing difficult medical diagnoses and work with them to draft and execute documents that meet their estate planning goals. Documents generally include preparation of wills, powers of attorney, disposition of remains, special needs trusts, and health care advance directives. Student teams must maintain office hours in the Clinic offices for a total of four hours per week. Office hours must be scheduled on Monday from 2PM to 7PM, Tuesday from 2PM to 8PM, Wednesday from Noon to 8PM, or Thursday from Noon to 8PM. The days and times for office hours will be determined based on each student team's schedule. Students will be required to attend a clinic class one day per week.

Pre or co-requisite: Trusts and Estates (ESTA-300). Restriction: Students must meet the Law Clinic's conflict of interest rules.
This course fulfills the professional skills requirement.

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ESTATE PLANNING (ESTA-305) 3 credits
The Estate Planning course is intended to be the capstone of the estate planning area, which includes Trusts and Estates, Gift and Estate Tax, Pensions, and Community Property, among others. The course will explore planning problems for small, medium, and large estates. There will be significant emphasis on choices of technique, form of ownership, taxable and non-taxable arrangements, married and unmarried individuals, and drafting. The drafting of documents and general estate planning problem solving will play a large role in the grade for this class. There may be either a final examination or a final drafting project.

Prerequisite: Trusts and Estates (ESTA-300). 
This course fulfills the professional skills requirement.

 

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EVIDENCE (EVID-200) 4 credits
The Evidence course examines the law governing proof in judicial proceedings under both the Common Law and modern codifications, particularly the Federal Rules of Evidence. Topics covered include relevancy; the hearsay rule and its exceptions; rules relating to witnesses, writings, and other forms of evidence; privileges; and expert witnesses.

No prerequisites.
This is a required course.
This is a bar tested course.

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EVIDENCE LAB (EVID-301) 1 credit
This course focuses on how practicing attorneys think about an area of substantive law -- Evidence. Through a simulated civil case, students come to appreciate how an awareness of substantive evidence affects attorney performance in every stage of case development and preparation, from first interview through trial. Using roleplays, students put witnesses on the stand, bring out testimony, and argue a wide range of evidentiary objections ranging from relevance to hearsay and privilege. This course begins five weeks after the semester begins, and ends after seven weeks.

Pre or co-requisite: Evidence (EVID-200). Restriction: This course must be taken pass/fail.
This course fulfills the professional skills requirement

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EXPERIMENTS IN JUSTICE AFTER MASS ATROCITIES (INTL-357) 2 credits
This seminar will examine different efforts to provide accountability for mass atrocities, a field of law sometimes referred to as transitional justice. Since the end of World War II with the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals, efforts have been made to provide formal legal accountability to those responsible for the worst crimes: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and, to a lesser extent, aggression. With the advent of the Cold War, these efforts limped along in the face of mass atrocities, including those committed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the military regimes in Argentina and Chile. Starting in the 1980s, and then picking up steam with the end of the cold war in 1990, different mechanisms were adopted to provide some form of accountability for these international crimes. This seminar will critically examine some of those mechanisms, including truth commissions, local justice mechanisms such as gacaca in Rwanda, hybrid tribunals such as were established for Sierra Leone and Cambodia, and international tribunals such as those established for the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and now the International Criminal Court.

Prerequisite: One of the following: International Criminal Law (CRIM-380); International Law (INTL-150); International Law of Human Rights (INTL-310); International Human Rights Clinic (INTL-402); or Public International Law (INTL-300).

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EXTERNSHIPS
Externships are law-related placements outside the law school in which students do legal work for an agency or court to earn academic credit. Externships are offered as an educational opportunity in which the student is closely mentored by an on-site supervising attorney or judge and also has an opportunity for reflection and discussion with the faculty supervisor in a seminar format.For more information, please contact the Externship Office.

Prerequisites vary; please check with the externship office. This course fulfills the professional skills requirement.

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FAMILY LAW (FAML-315) 3 credits
This is a basic course covering core family law concepts. These include marriage, divorce and other forms of family dissolution, and related issues. Topics include the nature and history of both marriage and divorce, the major aspects of divorce (property division, spousal support, child support, and child custody), modification of support and custody awards, and jurisdiction for child custody and divorce actions. The course will also consider the legal treatment of separation of unmarried couples, with and without children, and the law governing prenuptial agreements. This course is recommended for those seeking a survey family law course in preparation for the bar exam.

Restriction: Students who have received credit for Family Dissolution and Related Issues (FAML-315) may not receive credit for this course. Note: This course replaces Family Dissolution and Related Issues (FAML-315) and Family Formation/Recognition and Related Constitutional Issues (FAML-310).
This is a bar tested course.

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FEDERAL COURTS (CIVL-305) 3 credits
This course studies the role of the federal courts in the operation of the federal system. Among the topics that may be covered are the case or controversy requirement and justiciability, congressional power regarding the jurisdiction and operations of the federal courts, federal question jurisdiction, the development of so-called "federal common law," abstention and related limitations on federal courts' jurisdiction, Supreme Court review of state court judgments, federal habeas corpus, and the sovereign and official immunity doctrines. Prior or concurrent enrollment in Constitutional Law is recommended, as this course requires significant knowledge of substantive constitutional law.

Recommended but not required: Constitutional Law (CNLW-200)

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FEDERAL INDIAN LAW (INDL-300) 3 credits
Federal Indian Law is a survey course introducing students to the special federal statutes and court decisions governing the unique legal status of Indian tribes, Indian individuals, and Indian property. The course provides an overview of the history of federal Indian policy and legal development. It introduces the student to the interpretation of treaty rights; tribal sovereignty; federal, state, and tribal jurisdiction in Indian country; special rules regarding environmental protection of resources of importance to tribes; the disposition on Indian child custody matters; Indian gaming; and other matters of increasing importance to the practice of law in areas such as Washington State where a significant tribal presence exists.

No prerequisites.

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FEDERAL TAX CLINIC (TAXL-405) 4 credits
Clinical training in federal income tax litigation under the supervision of members of the law school faculty. An initial classroom component will include instruction in applicable federal tax law, procedure and practice, professional skills training in interviewing and counseling, negotiation, and trial practice, and consideration of pertinent professional responsibility issues. In the practice component, students will advise and represent low-income taxpayers in controversies with the Internal Revenue Service from initial interview through any necessary tax litigation. Rule 9 eligibility is not required.

In order to expand clinical course opportunities for our students, Seattle University and the University of Washington law schools are allowing two students from each school to register for a clinical course at the other school not currently offered at their home school.  SU students will have four spots in the UW Federal Tax Clinic (4 semester credits)

Pre or co-requisite: Individual Income Tax (TAXL-300). Recommended: Comprehensive Trial Advocacy (ADVC-305), Evidence (EVID-200) and Professional Responsibility (PROF-200).

 

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FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS LAW (COMM-320) 3 credits
This course will examine the role, structure and functions of financial institutions. The past year represents one of the most turbulent periods in the history of U.S. and world finance. How did we get to this point? Where and how do we move beyond this current state?

The course begins with an overview of financial intermediation and the different kinds of financial institutions and how those institutions have been regulated. Basic financial economics will be explained where this is necessary to an understanding of regulatory strategies and decisions. Current financial developments, statutory and regulatory analysis, as well as historic case law will be examined. The class will analyze the role of financial institutions in allocating resources, managing risk, and exerting corporate governance (both over the financial firms themselves and over the firms aided by the act of financing). Students will also study meta-concepts such as economic growth, income distribution, and financial stability.

The class will also consider examples of conflicts of interest among financial intermediaries, and assess the economics of regulation, including the political forces that have helped to shape policy decisions.

Course Objective: Class participants should become minimally conversant concerning the regulatory structures and economic principles underlying the emergence, evolution, and operation of financial institutions and the impact of public policy decisions.

no prerequisites.

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FOOD LAW AND POLICY (GOVT-340) 2 credits
The history of food law is one of reaction to that which scares or disgusts, including the prospects of being cheated, poisoned, or malnourished. The course will begin with a look at the ancient origins of food law, and then work our way through the evolution of the major laws that govern the manufacture, distribution, and sale of food today, including the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, and the Food Safety Modernization Act. The competing and sometimes contradictory policies behind the law will also be reviewed and discussed.

The focus of the course will be on regulatory compliance and risk management - that is, how to advise a company producing, distributing, or selling food products to comply with the law and to avoid liabilities. The first half of each class will be lecture and discussion focused on the law, based on assigned readings of cases and articles. The latter part of each class will be used to work through "real-life" cases studies of companies facing some sort of regulatory challenge or crisis (e.g., a product recall or failed inspection), with students assigned to make presentations on how to respond. A 10-15 page paper on a topic of the student's choosing will also be required.

no prerequisites.

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FORENSICS (ADVC-325) 3 credits
This course is designed as an introduction to the use of scientific and social science evidence in litigation. It includes an examination of the rules of evidence regulating the admissibility of such evidence, contrasting the Frye standard with the Daubert standard. The course will also present cases and materials on such topics as:

  • the problem of "junk" science and the battle of experts
  • probabilistic proof and issues in statistical analysis
  • scientific and philosophical problems involving causation
  • issues concerning evaluation and proof of mental states, including insanity and diminished capacity
  • admissibility and problems regarding DNA evidence
  • The course will also consider practical and legal issues involved in working with experts in general, taking depositions of expert witnesses, qualifying experts, preparing them for trial, and preparing to cross-examine experts.

No prerequisites.
This course fulfills the professional skills requirement.

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FOUNDATIONS OF PRIVACY LAW (INTP-321/INTP-615) 3 credits
This course explores the principles of privacy law in relation to the affairs of government, non-government organizations, and individuals. Students will examine laws that protect personal privacy, both from a historical perspective and with a more contemporary focus on how these laws change as new technologies emerge.

No prerequisites.

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GENDER AND LAW (JURS-397) 2 credits
This course examines how gender categories are constructed in and enforced by law. Course materials engage an intersectional approach, analyzing how gender norms are co-constituted with other categories such as race, nation, and ability. The course will look at how systems of law enforcement, including criminal and immigration enforcement, produce gendered surveillance, confinement and violence. We will use interdisciplinary materials to ask how various scholars and social movements have understood law as both a site of the enforcement of coercive gender systems and as a potential tool of resistance to such systems.

No prerequisites.

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GENERAL COUNSEL: LAWYERING WITHIN AN ORGANIZATION (LPRC-325) 2 credits
Legal departments at companies and organizations have a broad range of responsibilities, all of which involve, at some level, risk management. Not only does a General Counsel need to understand multiple practice areas to be able to address issues, he or she must also be a business person and be able to identify, understand and balance risks and make decisions relating to those risks for the company or organization. The purpose of this course is to give students an overview of the role of a General Counsel. Students will be exposed to a number of areas of substantive law that are commonly addressed by General Counsel and will be able to use what they've learned to resolve issues frequently encountered at a company or organization. There will be several exercises in which students will have to respond to lawyering challenges of the kind frequently encountered by General Counsel.

Prerequisite: Business Entities (BUSN-300).
This course fulfills the professional skills requirement.

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GIFT AND ESTATE TAX (TAXL-310) 3 credits
This course provides an introduction to the taxation of gratuitous property transfers, including both transfers upon death (estate tax) and transfers during life (gift tax). It is concerned solely with the federal system of transfer taxes and does not include examination of the income taxation of trusts and estates.

Pre or co-requisite:  Trusts and Estates (ESTA-300).

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GLOBAL JUSTICE PRACTICUM (INTL-415) 2 credits
Students in this practicum course will work on research and advocacy projects of the Center for Global Justice. The projects will be in service of the interests of individuals and organizations both domestic and international. As Student Fellows of the Center, practicum students will work under the supervision of the Director in assisting these individuals and groups. The work will combine research, problem-solving, and direct engagement with the outside individuals and groups.

Restrictions: Permission of the instructor is required for enrollment.

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GUARDIANSHIP AND ITS ALTERNATIVES (ESTA-330) 2 credits
This course will survey the law of guardianship and examine the complex issues involved in guardianship practice in Washington state, the role and statutory duties of the guardian, the guardian's relationship with the client, family members, and other parties, and representing incapacitated persons. The course will also examine planning for incapacity and alternatives to guardianship of incapacitated persons.

No prerequisites.

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HEALTH LAW I (HLTH-305) 3 credits
This course surveys health law and its sources, with a particular emphasis on United States health policy, health care finance policy, and the corporate structures that have arisen in response to these policies. Health law issues discussed in the course fall into five categories: (1) health care cost, quality, and access; (2) private insurance and managed care; (3) public financing: Medicare/Medicaid; (4) organizational structures in the health care industry; and (5) selected regulatory issues as they are applied to the health care industry such as fraud & abuse and antitrust. Students will be exposed to key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 ("Obamacare") relevant to these categories. Throughout the semester, particular attention will be paid to the ways in which health law impacts the realities of health care access and delivery, as well as the intersections of health care, law, and ethics. Students will be evaluated based on a midterm paper and a final examination.

No prerequisites.

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HOMELESS RIGHTS ADVOCACY PRACTICUM I (WRIT-415) 3 credits
The Homeless Rights Advocacy Practicum is an introduction to social justice advocacy in the context of civil, constitutional, and human rights issues relating to homeless adults and children. Through this practicum, 2L and 3L students learn how policy issues arise and how to perform legal and factual research and analysis to support policy advocacy positions. Students learn how to develop legal and factual research into a form useful to the public, an institution, or client. Students are graded on professionalism, class participation (including out of class assignments, such as conducting expert interviews or serving public record requests), and a final paper.

Specific learning objectives covered in this practicum generally include understanding, practicing, and applying the following:

  • Legal research and analyses relating to homeless rights, including constitutional, civil, and human rights issues
  • How to identify and define policy issues
  • Factual investigation, including the creation, collection, and use of statistical and empirical data in policymaking 
  • The hallmarks of effective policy advocacy documents
  • Substantive, strategic, and structural similarities and differences between policy advocacy documents and the other types of legal writing (and understanding some of the reasons for these similarities and differences)
  • The planning, development, and management of a complex research project related to a specific policy advocacy position
  • Drafting and serving public records requests
  • The creation of effective executive summaries, tables of content, and bibliographies
  • The creation of effective visual aids such as PowerPoints, graphs, and tables
  • The art of persuasive oral presentations to advance policy advocacy positions
  • Techniques to plan and progress through successive drafts of their research and analysis into a final draft, with descriptive and persuasive elements, for public release

Class Schedule
The logistical schedule of the course has two parts:

  1. Once a week, all students meet in a 2-hour session with the professor for the seminar portion of the course and to discuss individual and collective assignments; and
  2. Individually or in small groups, students make weekly progress reports to Professor Rankin by phone, email, or in-person conferences to ensure steady progress of assignments.

Prerequisite: Legal Writing I (WRIT-100 & WRIT-105) with a grade of B or higher.
This course fulfills the professional skills requirement.

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