Each quarter the Center for Legal Studies offers a number of courses. See below for our current or upcoming offerings.

Note that courses are subject to change. See CAESAR for most up-to-date lists.

Spring Courses 2018

LEGAL_ST  207-0-20: Legal Studies Research Methods (taught with SOCIOL 227)

Robert L Nelson

Legal Studies Research Methods introduces students to research methods used in interdisciplinary legal studies, including jurisprudence and legal reasoning, qualitative and quantitative social science methods, and historical and textual analysis. The course is a prerequisite for the Advanced Research Seminar in Legal Studies, 398-1, - 2, and is intended to prepare students for the design of their own research project to be conducted in 398-1, -2. Through exposure to and engagement with interdisciplinary research methods on law and legal processes, the course will provide students with a deeper understanding of law in its historical and social context. The course will provide students with a set of research tools with which to conduct research on legal institutions. The course builds on content from Legal Studies 206, a prerequisite for 207. While part of the Legal Studies major sequence, the course will enrich the analytic skills of students from many fields who are interested in law or in interdisciplinary research methods.  (Pre-Req: Legal_St 206 “Law & Society”)


LEGAL_ST  276-0-20: Introductory Topics in Legal Studies: History of the American Legal Profession

Justin Simard

This seminar examines the American legal profession from its small and provincial origins in the eighteenth century to its enormous and influential presence today. It will explore topics including legal education, practice, ethics, and professional organization, and it will survey the influence of the profession in fields from politics and business to the civil rights movement. Students will gain an appreciation for the many roles that lawyers play outside of the courtroom and the way that the profession has shaped the development and application of American law.


LEGAL_ST  340-0-20: Gender and the Law (taught with GNDR_ST 390-0-22)

Joanna Grisinger

This course is intended as a survey of how law has reflected and created distinctions on the basis of gender and sexuality throughout American history. We'll look at legal categories of gender and sexuality that have governed (and, often, continue to govern) the household (including marriage, divorce, and custody), the economy (including employment, property, and credit), and the political sphere (including voting, jury service, and citizenship). Throughout the course, we will examine the relationship between legal rules and social conditions, and discuss how various groups have challenged these legal categories.


LEGAL_ST  376-0-20: Topics in Legal Studies: Law and Slavery

Justin Simard

Law played a critical role in creating and perpetuating American slavery. This seminar examines the origins and development of the laws that built and sustained a slave society. It will explore the legal efforts that slaveowners made to protect their property and the role of judges and lawyers in treating people as property. This seminar will also examine resistance to slavery through the legal system, following abolitionists, politicians, and slaves themselves as they attempted to make a legal case for freedom. Students will learn the fundamental role that the law of slavery played in the development of the United States and gain a critical perspective on a legal system that helped sustain a vicious institution.

LEGAL_ST  376-0-21: Topics in Legal Studies: Refugee Policy and Localities
(taught with POLI_SCI 390-0-31)

Galya Ruffer Ben-Arieh

Through the lens of the U.S. 1980 Refugee Act, students in this class will examine the ways in which a national policy, premised on human rights obligations in the 1951 International Convention for the Protection of Refugee and 1967 Protocol, contributes to the lived experience of that policy in localities. We will consider what local understandings of refugee policy can teach us about constitutional governance, federalism, integration and civil society. More broadly, students will gain insight into the complexities of refugee resettlement policy as a durable solution for refugees seeking protection. We will look comparatively at national refugee resettlement and admission policies, but, by focusing on localities, consider the variation of policy and governance across localities in Western Liberal Democracies that have already accepted sizable numbers of refugees and migrants. Local responses fall along a spectrum, at one end welcoming (#refugeeswelcome, sanctuary cities) and at the other end restrictive ("not in our backyard"). The variation of refugee policy and governance in localities has a direct impact on the lived experience of refugee protection, public perception of refugee policies and understandings of membership and belonging in a constitutional democracy. Through archival research surrounding the 1980 Refugee Act and field research in Chicago neighborhoods, students will gain exposure to qualitative interpretive methodology. By curating exhibits around the 1980 Refugee Act and the ways in which that law is lived out in localities, students will become contributors to the creation of a Refugee Policy and Localities digital archive.


LEGAL_ST  376-0-22: Topics in Legal Studies: Constitutional Challenges in Comparative Perspective (taught with POLI SCI 390-0-24)

Galya (Ruffer) Ben-Arieh

In this course we will be thinking about how and whether constitutions shape national values and offer a framework for legitimacy and governance to hold together diverse societies and resolve deeply rooted social tensions and ethnic divisions. We will consider the constitutional responses of other democratic countries such as the U.S., Canada, India, France, Germany, Great Britain, South Africa and Australia to the challenges of capital crimes, right to life/abortion, terrorism, racism, gender disparities, religious discrimination. In learning about the varying traditions of written and unwritten constitutions, civil and common law and the foundations and structures of separation of powers and judicial review of the constitutionality of laws in these countries, students will learn to think critically about the U.S. Constitution and the different ways in which constitutional democracies provide for public order, counter-majoritarian governance, equality and protection of the rights of minorities through rule of law and question whether constitutional solutions can address the kinds of social and political problems we have today. (Pre-Req: Legal_St 332 “Con Law I” or 333 “Con Law II”)


LEGAL_ST  394-0-20: Professional Linkage Seminar: Human Rights & US Refugee Law

William Schiller

The objectives in this course are: 1) to learn about international human rights conditions and refugee law mechanisms in the United States, through ongoing research related to asylum claims that will be presented at the end of the quarter in a trial; and 2) to become familiar with the diverse work of refugee-related professionals, including individuals who perform documentation-gathering, advocate for legal and public policy, and provide health care for asylum-seekers in the United States. In this class, you will be introduced to fundamental tenets of international human rights law and its domestic counterpart, U.S. asylum law. You will build upon this foundation for the remainder of the course by researching two asylum claims involving refugees from two countries, which you will present in mock hearings at the end of the course.


Winter Courses 2018

LEGAL_ST 206-0-20 "Law & Society" (taught with SOCIOL 206)
Prof. Heather Schoenfeld

This course introduces the relationship between social, cultural, political, and economic forces on the one hand, and legal rules, practices, and outcomes, on the other. We focus on several of the most important sociological questions about law including: 1) What is the purpose of law in a modern society? 2) How is the legal system and legal profession organized? 3) How does politics shape the law? 4) What does the law look like in action? And 5) how can law create or constrain social change? In order to explore these questions, it focuses on a few legal issues in modern U.S. society, including same-sex marriage and race and gender discrimination. It also introduces research methods for the study of law and society.

LEGAL_ST 305-0-20 "American Immigration" (taught with HISTORY 305)
Prof. Shana Bernstein

This course introduces students to the social, political, legal, and cultural history of immigration in the United States. In addition to exploring the history of southern and eastern European immigrants, it uses a comparative framework to integrate Latin American and Asian migrants into our understanding of immigration since the late nineteenth century. The course is an exploration of major themes in immigration history rather than a comprehensive examination. Issues students will consider include immigration law, acculturation, community, racial formation, victimization vs. agency, the transnational and international context of immigration, and competing notions of citizenship, among others.

LEGAL_ST 308-0-20 "Sociology of Law" (taught with SOCIOL 318)
Prof. Robert Nelson

This course examines the relationship between law and the distribution of power in society, with a particular emphasis on law and social change in the United States.    Readings will be drawn from the social sciences and history, as well as selected court cases that raise critical questions about the role of race, gender, and sexual orientation in American society.  Among the material we will examine are the documents made public in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Students should be aware that some of this material is graphic and disturbing.

LEGAL_ST 333-0-20 "Constitutional Law II" (taught with POLI_SCI 332)
Prof. Joanna Grisinger

This course investigates the civil rights and civil liberties protected by the Constitution and defined by the U.S. Supreme Court. It will also examine the many controversies over what, exactly, the Constitution means, who gets to decide, and how. We will discuss, among other topics, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, privacy, equality, and voting rights.

LEGAL_ST 376-0-20 "From Colonists to Capitalists: Law and the American Economy, 1700-Present"

Prof. Justin Simard

In the United States the legal profession exerts tremendous economic and political power, and there are more lawyers per capita than in any other country. This seminar examines the roots of the relationship between law, lawyers, and American commerce. It will explore the law of debt, slavery, injury, and intellectual property, and examine how the law and the lawyers who applied it structured the American economy. The seminar will also explore what a law-driven economy meant for its participants, from debtors and slaves to inventors and CEOs. The seminar will give students a new, critical perspective on debates over the role of finance, corporations, and regulation in American economic life.

LEGAL_ST 376-0-21 "Constitutional Revolution: The Fourteenth Amendment" (taught with HISTORY 300-0-44)
Prof. Joanna Grisinger & Kate Masur

Passed by Congress in 1866 and ratified in 1868, the 14th Amendment revolutionized citizenship and equal rights in the United States. The amendment continues to shape how Americans understand hot-button issues like affirmative action, birthright citizenship, and same-sex marriage. This class explores the history and impact of the amendment - from its origins in the abolitionist movement and the Civil War and Reconstruction to major Supreme Court cases of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. The quarter concludes with an exploration of the possibilities but also the limitations of rights claims in the present.

LEGAL_ST 376-0-22 "Mass Incarceration" (taught with SOC_POL 351-0-20)
Prof. Heather Schoenfeld

This course is designed for upper-level students interested in social policy, politics, inequality and law. It explores the "carceral state" or the institutions and policies that create a system of criminalization and punishment in the United States. Within the carceral state, the focus of the course is on the history and policies in the United States that led to the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world. The course examines and moves beyond various common explanations for mass incarceration, including crime, politics, public opinion, racism and the "prison industrial complex." It then explores specific policies and practices that created and sustain high levels of incarceration, including sentencing, prison programing, and prosecutorial discretion. Finally, it addresses recent attempts at reform, including policies around re-entry, drug courts and prison conditions. Students read a variety of materials including statutes, policy reports, social science research, law review articles and case law. Assignments include a class presentation and fifteen page research paper.

LEGAL_ST 394-0-20 "Lawyering: Education and Practice"
Prof. Seth Meyer

Attorneys are central to American life and popular culture, but the profession is undergoing dramatic change.  For years, the supply of lawyers has vastly outstripped the demand for legal jobs and the resulting lawyer bubble has grown.  Meanwhile, those who land law jobs have different challenges: recent surveys report many attorneys' growing disenchantment with their work and dissatisfaction with their lives. This seminar will examine the profession’s multidimensional crisis. What changes occur in attorneys, both individually and systemically, emerging from law schools and finding their roles in the legal realm? Why is working within  the most lucrative big firms now regarded by many as the pinnacle of private practice? What other options are available?  It will explore life after law school, examining the disparate places law graduates might find themselves.  The course invites prospective law students to consider their potential places, as individual lawyers, in what remains a noble profession.  It also invites those students in other undergraduate disciplines who may be curious about trajectories open to them in this post-graduate academic and, ultimately, career field.

LEGAL_ST 398-2-20 "Advanced Research Seminar II"
Prof. Laura Beth Nielsen

Legal Studies 398 is a two-quarter sequence (398-1 and 398-2) required for all Legal Studies majors. This seminar will expose students to a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to law and legal institutions; over two quarters, students will develop their own research paper on a topic of interest. During winter quarter, students will complete their research projects and present their projects to the class. Students will meet to discuss shared readings, will workshop their paper drafts with one another, will prepare oral presentations based on their research, and will meet individually with the professor and with the Graduate Teaching Fellows.



Fall Courses 2017

LEGAL_ST 101-6-20 First-Year Seminar: The U.S. West
Shana B Bernstein, MoWe 11:00AM - 12:20PM

In this course we will examine the history of the U.S. West as both frontier and region, real and imagined. We will consider topics such as Indian Removal, wars of conquest, law, immigration and migration, race, gender, nationality, class, and environment. Much of our focus will be on the role mythology has played shaping memories and understandings of the region.

LEGAL_ST 206-0-20 Law and Society (taught with SOCIOL 206)
Joanna Grisinger, TuTh 11:00AM - 12:20PM + discussion sections

Law is everywhere. Law permits, prohibits, enables, legitimates, protects, and prosecutes. Law shapes our day-to-day lives in countless ways. This course examines the connections and relationships of law and society using an interdisciplinary social science approach. As one of the founders of the Law and Society movement observed, "law is too important to leave to lawyers." Accordingly, this course will borrow from several theoretical, disciplinary, and interdisciplinary perspectives (such as sociology, history, anthropology, political science, critical studies, and psychology) in order to explore the sociology of law and law's role primarily in the American context (but with some attention to international law and global human rights efforts). The thematic topics to be discussed include law and social control; law's role in social change; and law's capacity to reach into complex social relations and intervene in existing normative institutions and organizational structures.

LEGAL_ST 318-1-20 Legal and Constitutional History of the United States (taught with HISTORY 318-1-20)
Joanna Grisinger, TuTh 2:00PM - 3:20PM

This course explores some of the major questions and problems of American legal history from the colonial era to 1850. First, we will examine how and why the colonies developed their laws and legal institutions, and how these evolved over time. Next, we will explore the legal, political, and social forces that led to the American Revolution, and we will look at how Americans drew on their legal experiences in drafting a constitution. We will then examine how judicial and legislative action guided and enabled explosive economic growth in the nineteenth century. Not everyone was able to participate in the new economy, however; we will explore how the law created separate categories for women, American Indians, and African Americans that limited their participation in law, politics, and society. By the end of this course, you should be able to: read, understand, and analyze different kinds of legal texts; understand a variety of legal concepts and doctrines and their meaning in historical context; understand the distinct roles played by different actors (judges, legislatures, lawyers, litigants, voters, etc.) within the constitutional system; and make cogent, evidence-based arguments about these core themes in law and legal history.

LEGAL_ST 332-0-20 Constitutional Law I (taught with POLI_SCI 332-0-20)
Galya Ruffer, MoWe 11:00AM - 12:20PM + discussion sections

This course investigates the structure of American government as laid out by the Constitution. It will also examine the many controversies over what, exactly, the Constitution means, who gets to decide, and how. We will discuss judicial review, the powers of Congress and the executive branch, and the relationship between the federal government and the states.

LEGAL_ST 348-0-20 Race, Politics, and the Law (taught with SOCIOL 348-0-20)
Heather Schoenfeld, MoWe 2:00PM - 3:20PM

This course examines conceptualizations race and racism across the social sciences to situate the role of race in contemporary U.S. politics, policymaking and law. The course considers how race continues to structure life experiences, social outcomes, opinions and political affiliations. Using contemporary political and legal issues, the course addresses how the law deals with racial inequality. Pre-requisite - LS/Soc 206

LEGAL_ST 376-0-20 Law & Culture (taught with ANTHRO 378)
Katherine Hoffman, TuTh 11:00AM - 12:20PM

Law and Culture is a seminar-style introduction to the anthropology of law as the intersection of law, culture, and language. Through both theoretical and ethnographic texts, the course considers legal institutions as important sites for the creation, negotiation, and reformulation of social and cultural norms and practices. We consider the ways in which culture and language shape law, and the ways in which law conditions and constrains culture and language. Throughout, our attention remains on individual actors interacting with legal systems and principles and people's expectations of the law. We examine in cross-cultural perspective such matters as evidence, persuasion, performance, and discourse on human rights, legal pluralism, indigenous populations, globalization, and gender. Throughout, questions of power, agency, and inequality (especially around gender and race/ethnicity) animate our investigations. Most of our readings concern Muslim societies or populations, so we will examine intersections between various interpretations of Islamic law and other legal traditions. The legal anthropological texts we read give close attention to spoken and/or written language. The linguistic anthropological readings take the courtroom and/or disputes as their object of analysis.

LEGAL_ST 394-0-20 Professional Linkage Seminar: Human Rights & US Refugee Law
William B Schiller, COURSE MOVED TO SPRING 2018!

The objectives in this course are: 1) to learn about international human rights conditions and refugee law mechanisms in the United States, through ongoing research related to asylum claims that will be presented at the end of the quarter in a trial; and 2) to become familiar with the diverse work of refugee-related professionals, including individuals who perform documentation-gathering, advocate for legal and public policy, and provide health care for asylum-seekers in the United States. In this class, you will be introduced to fundamental tenets of international human rights law and its domestic counterpart, U.S. asylum law.

LEGAL_ST 398-1-20 “Advanced Research Seminar 1” (for Majors only, department consent required)
Prof. Laura Beth Nielsen

Legal Studies 398-1,2 is a two-quarter sequence required for all Legal Studies majors. This seminar exposes students to a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to law and legal institutions; over two quarters, students will develop their own research paper on a topic of interest.