Lawrence Solan

Don Forchelli Professor of Law and Director of Graduate Education

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 780-0357 |  Email  | CV
Areas of Expertise

Criminal Law
Language and the Law
Statutory Interpretation

B.A., Brandeis University
Ph.D., University of Massachusetts
J.D., Harvard Law School


This course is concerned with the law governing private agreements. The course deals with how contracts are formed; which contracts are valid and enforceable; what constitutes breach of a contract; and what remedies are available when a contract has been breached. Issues relating to the interpretation of contract language, the role of contracts in a market economy, and the policing of unfair bargains are also explored.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade only. Final exam.

Fundamentals of American Law for Ll.M. Foreign-Trained Lawyers

This course introduces foreign-trained lawyers to the U.S. legal system. U.S. law differs from that of many other countries in two major respects. First, it has its own version of federalism in which states and the federal government have their own legal systems that interact in important and sometimes complex ways. Second, it is a system based on a common-law perspective even though most U.S. law is either statutory or regulatory. The course not only teaches students the structure of U.S. law, based largely on the U.S. Constitution, but introduces them to its discourse. There is particular focus on written assignments, so that students may begin to develop the skills necessary to communicate using American legal English. At the conclusion of this course, students will understand the structure and discourse of U.S. law. This course is required for all LL.M. students and is taught in an intensive format every August.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Pass/fail only. Students will be graded on an in-class final exam.

Insurance Law

The course surveys the nature, function, regulation of and varieties of insurance, including property, liability, life, health, and automobile insurance. Primary emphasis is on the insurance contract and its interpretation, particularly coverage disputes between policyholder and insurer. The major approaches to insurance contract construction are reviewed, applied, and analyzed. The course surveys the law of policyholder and insurer rights and obligations as well as the rights of third parties and regulators. It also examines doctrines regarding waiver, estoppel, bad faith, the duty to defend, settlement prerogatives, and conflict of interest.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade with pass/fail option. Final examm.

Law, Language, and Cognition Seminar

This seminar will involve interdisciplinary studies into how advances in our knowledge of how the human language works may impact on issues in the law. Among the topics that will be addressed are the law's handling of encounters between citizens and law enforcement officials, evidentiary issues (including hearsay, authentication and the rules governing expert witnesses), the interpretation of statutes, and the jury system. Students will be encouraged to read in law, linguistics and psychology to develop sophisticated approaches to problems that the legal system may not now be addressing adequately.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade with pass/fail option. This course requires a series of short papers. Students may, for a third credit, expand one of those papers into a full-length term paper.

Legislation and Statutory Interpretation

The course examines the basic mechanics of the legislative process regarding enactment and implementation of the process and of American politics that affect statutory issues. The course will focus on statutory interpretation theories, tools such as clear statement rules, legislative history, and the canons of construction, and actual case results.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade with pass/fail option. An examination is required, but with instructor approval, students have the option of submitting a paper to satisfy the Upperclass Writing Requirement in lieu of the exam.

Legislation and the Regulatory State

Most law comes from statutes and regulations. This course is an introduction both to legislation and statutory interpretation, and to aspects of administrative law that deal with the interpretation of regulations and the laws under which regulations are issued. Students will learn about the process of enacting laws and issuing regulations, and the various approaches to interpretation. Some of the larger topics will include the status of textualism, the role of legislative intent, the relationship between statutory law and common law, and deference to the interpretation of laws by administrative agencies. In some instances, we will focus on lawyers' briefs in addition to judicial decisions to help develop skills in effective argumentation on these issues. Enrollment Note: You may not take both this course and Legislation and Statutory Interpretation. You may, however, take both this course and Administrative Law.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade only. Final Exam.

Professional Responsibility in Different Practice Settings

This course satisfies the professional responsibility requirement for graduation. In this course we take a look at the culture and structure of different legal practice settings. At the same time, we investigate and analyze ethical pressures that result from these different settings, and how to deal with them. The course will include a series of readings and discussions about these different settings; familiarity with ethical rules that govern various situations discussed in the course; interviewing representatives of these various practice situations in class; each student interviewing an attorney and writing a short paper summarizing the important points learned from that interview; and a brief presentation in class.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade only. Final exam. The exam will count for 60% of the grade, the paper/presentation for the other 40%.


This course introduces students to the laws governing real and personal property transfer and ownership. Topics covered may include the historical development of various kinds of present and future interests in property; the sale and financing of real estate; landlord-tenant law; land use regulation; gifts of personal property; and non-traditional property rights.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade only. Final exam.


When a court decides a case, it must answer two basic questions. The first, familiar from most law school courses, is which party should "win." However, what that "victory" actually amounts to depends upon a crucial second question: What will (or should) a court order to vindicate the winning party's rights? In practice the question of exactly what a winning party will receive matters to litigants at least as much as the question of who will win does, and determining what remedy is appropriate in a given case often involves challenging theoretical issues. This course will examine the main remedies available to courts and litigants, in both law and equity, and how courts choose among them. Topics will include damages, injunctions, restitution, and declaratory remedies.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade with pass/fail option. A final exam is required.


This course is an introduction to the principles governing civil liability for intentional and unintentional injuries to people and property. Specific topics covered may include negligence and personal injury law; strict liability; an introduction to product liability; remedies; and alternatives to the tort system.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade only. Final exam.