In the 2008–09 academic year, Brooklyn Law School added 32 new courses to its curriculum. The new courses reflect the Law School's approach to building its curriculum on two fronts: increasing experiential learning for upper level students, whether by representing real clients or by working through specially-designed simulations; and providing advanced courses and seminars through which students may engage in the analytical rigor of in-depth study. The new courses are being taught by a mix of new and established members of Brooklyn Law School's faculty, visiting faculty, federal judges, and practitioners whose experience makes their courses especially valuable to law students.
"We are proud to bring more and more elite educational opportunities to our student body," says Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Lawrence Solan. "In-depth study of the most important legal issues of our time will prepare our students to become the profession's next generation of leaders."
Because it is attuned to the evolving needs of its students and the society they will serve, Brooklyn Law School will continue to add courses that employ innovative teaching techniques that augment traditional course offerings with instruction in emerging areas of law. "Our goal is to bring the highest level of educational experience to our students," says Solan. "These new courses are making this an exciting time to be here."
Seminars Offered in Cutting-Edge Topics
Seminars give students a way to explore complex legal issues in a setting that allows intimate discussions and one-on-one feedback from their professors. These courses, which are typically limited to 20 students, delve more deeply into specific topics and also offer students the opportunity to refine their writing skills. The new seminars reflect the school's commitment to exposing students to emerging fields in the study of law.
Professor Dana Brakman Reiser is offering a course titled For-Profit/Nonprofit Boundary, which she developed in order to explore some of the ground-breaking issues her scholarship addresses.
"In this course, we are investigating phenomena that blur the boundary between for-profit and nonprofit," explains Brakman Reiser. "For example, a for-profit hospital converting to nonprofit is a social enterprise with the dual goal of making a profit and doing social good." Students examine whether there are "universals" in such conversions which in turn leads to the question of how the law should respond to these trends. Brakman Reiser says the students, many of whom have experience working in both for-profit and nonprofit environments, appreciate the cutting-edge nature of the course. And she is also learning from the interaction with her students. "Through this seminar, I am learning more about the phenomena, too, which is leading to ideas about broader theoretical questions I can address in my work," she says.
Securities expert Professor James Fanto explores timely issues in the securities industry in his Broker/Dealer Regulations Seminar. The seminar also addresses how securities markets are regulated — an area that attracts more and more interest as the U.S. economy continues to struggle and legal experts are called in to right the ship.
The Law School's new Wrongful Convictions Seminar explores the factors that contribute to the conviction of men and women later proven to be actually innocent. These include eyewitness misidentification, false confessions, ineffective assistance of counsel, the excessive use of jailhouse informants, police and prosecutorial misconduct, junk science, and forensic fraud. Potential reforms and government treatment of persons after they have been exonerated will also be addressed. Professor William Hellerstein, an expert in criminal law and constitutional litigation, is teaching the course.
Another new seminar, Law and the Brain, applies insights from the mind and brain sciences to questions of law and policy. Discussion topics include issues of traditional notions of responsibility and how they apply to legal concepts such as retributive punishment and the insanity defense. Legal and ethical issues raised by emerging technologies — such as the use of pharmaceuticals that enhance memory and cognition beyond our natural abilities, and the use of brain imaging evidence in the courtroom — are also addressed. The seminar is taught by Visiting Associate Professor of Law Adam J. Kolber from the University of San Diego.
This spring, a Comparative Contract Law seminar will explore the theoretical foundations of contract law by drawing on the resources of different legal systems. Taught by Assistant Professor of Law Robin Effron, the seminar's primary sources of study are the common law tradition represented by the United Kingdom and the United States, and the civil law tradition represented by Germany and France. Effron taught a similar course at the University of Chicago Law School prior to joining Brooklyn Law School this semester.
Also in the spring, Associate Professor Steven Dean, a tax expert at the Law School, will teach a Tax Policy Seminar, a new course designed to explore the policy concerns and the political process that have produced the U.S. income tax and the international tax regime. Topics will include fundamental tax reform, tax expenditures, tax shelters, tax treaties, ethical concerns, privacy, and lobbying.