Introduction to American Law
    A Class for International Exchange Students

University of North Carolina School of Law

Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Fall, 1997

Instructor: Marguerite Most
Office:Law Library, Room 114G
Phone: (919)962-1605
Class Location: Moore & Van Allen Seminar Room
Office Hours: On request

Fall, 1997 (Current)
Course Description
Class Schedule
Weekly Assignments
Roster of International Students
Picture - Class Visit to North Carolina Supreme Court
Picture - Class Visit to US Supreme Court - Fall, 1997

Fall, 1996
Roster of International Students - Fall, 1996
Picture - Class of Fall, 1996
Pictures - Class Visit to the US Supreme Court - Fall, 1996 
1996 Syllabus

Other Choices
Student Essays 
Selected Legal Writing Materials on the Internet
Selected Legal Research Guides on the Internet
link to UNC Law Weekly
link to Mere Dictum, the law school newspaper

Course Description

I.  Concept and Purpose:

This course provides an introduction to the American legal system for foreign exchange law students.  The course will bridge the gap between the students’ understanding of  their home countries’ legal systems and unique aspects of the United States legal system; and provide a general framework designed to aid in the students’ grasp of the law school curriculum.

II.  Goals for  the Course:

Familiarize students with the structure and working of the legal system of  the United States.

Provide experience in the research and writing skills necessary for effective legal analysis and clear oral and written communication, including hands-on experience using the law library and electronic resources.

Introduce students to the procedural aspects of civil and criminal law in the United States and  to  the principal bodies of substantive law in the United States.
Provide opportunities through field trips to observe the workings of various legal institutions and to talk with persons employed in the legal profession .

III.  Required  Texts:
Burnham, William, Introduction to the Law and Legal System of the United States, 1995.
Lewis, Alfred, Using American Law Books, 4th ed., 1995.
Supplementary materials will be distributed in class.

Optional Texts:

Cohen and Olson, Legal Research in a Nutshell, 6th ed., 1996 (on reserve in library).
A Uniform System of Citation, 16th ed., 1996  (on reserve in library).

IV.  Format for the Course:

Class sessions consist of lectures, student discussions, guest speakers and laboratory sessions.  Students are expected to participate in discussions based on the readings.

Students will be assigned a variety of  writing and research exercises including a legal memorandum.

V.  Student Responsibilities:

You are expected to read the assigned material before each class and be prepared to discuss what you have read.  Reading assignments in the Burnham text are long, but you are reading for content and not minutiae.

Complete all written assignments in a timely manner.

Class attendance is essential; this is a small class and your participation in the course is an important and valued component of the course.

VI.  Reading Assignments:

Please remember that we have a number of guest speakers and that we are somewhat dependent on their schedules.  Please do not read far in advance of the assigned readings for the next week.

VII. Grades:

There is no final exam.  The course grade will be based on the research and writing exercises, quizzes, the legal memorandum and class participation.
 40%    final memorandum
 20%    short writing assignments
 20%    research exercises
 10%    in-class quizzes on assigned readings
 10%    discretionary for class participation

VIII:  The Honor Code:

The Honor Code is in effect for all assignments related to this course.  You may work cooperatively on library assignments, but do not allow anyone to do your work for you, nor should you do anyone’s work for them.

Remember that it is an Honor Code violation to take words or concepts out of any resource (including cases, statutes and secondary materials) without proper use of quotation marks and proper acknowledgment of your source.  If you have questions about the Code, please check with me.

Class Schedule

Weekly Assignments

week 1:
    August 19 - Introduction to One Another and to the Course
           no reading assignment

    August 20  - Overview of American Law and Some Comparisons with Other Countries
          no reading assignment

    August 21-  Legal Education in the United States
          read Burnham, pp. 134 - 147

week 2:
    August 26 -  History and Governmental Structure
           read Burnham, pp. 1 - 36
           Constitution of the United States of America
           Constitution of  North Carolina

    August 27 -  Structure of a Law Suit and Briefing a Case
           no reading assignment

    August 28 -  Case Law
           read Lewis, pp. 9 - 39
           turn in -  assignment  - Legal Education essay
            LIBRARY TOUR, Wednesday, 8/27 - 4 - 5 pm. 

week 3
    September 2 - Statutes and Legislative History
           read:   Lewis, pp.55 - 98
           turn in:  library exercise - Using the Library Catalog
           turn in:  assignment  - case brief
           United States Code at Cornell Legal Information Institute
           Federal Legislative History Guide at University of Minnesota Law Library
            "How Our Laws Are Made" a narrative description of the legislative process

    September 3 -  Guest: Professor Lissa Broome - Interpreting Statutes
           read Burnham, pp. 48 - 64
           Be prepared to discuss "Working with Statutes" materials with Professor Broome.

    September 4 - Guest: Professor Walter Bennett - The Legal Profession
           read Burnham, pp. 141 (admission to the bar) - 174.
           Professor Bennett's Oral History Project
           Legal directories via UNC Law Library's homepage

week 4
    September 9 -  The Judicial System
           read Burnham, pp. 175 - 186
           "Structure of the Federal Courts"
           Glossary of terms about the courts
           Diagram of United States Court system
           Map of federal judicial circuits
           Diagram of North Carolina court system

    September 10 -  Legal Methodology
           read Burnham, pp. 64 - 75

    September 11 - Legal Methodology  - continued
           read Burnham, pp. 196 - 205

week 5
    September 16  Tour of  North Carolina Supreme Court with Justice Harry Martin
          Meet in Law School Lobby at 3 p.m.; return to Chapel Hill by 6 p.m.
          Photos and biographies of North Carolina Supreme Court Justices
          Students' essays about the North Carolina court visit.

    September 17 - Guest: Professor Tom French - Administrative Law
           read:  Burnham, pp. 206 - 234
           read:  Lewis, pp. 99 - 113
           United States Code of Federal Regulations
           A Guide to Federal Regulations and the CFR by Scott Childs         
    September 18 -  Methodology (continued)
           no reading assignment
           turn in: Finding and Researching Case Law
           turn in: Researching State Legislation

week 6
    September 23 - Commentaries on the Law / Shepard's Citators
           read:  Lewis, pp. 123 -  147
           read:  Lewis, pp. pp. 41 - 47
           turn in: Statutory Interpretation exercise
           How to Shepardize: Online Tutorial
           What happens when you don't Shepardize?  Excerpt from State of California v. OJ Simpson
    September 24 - Guest: Professor Ken Braun - Civil Procedure
           read:  Handout from Professor Braun
           read:  Burnham, pp. 235 - 274
           read:  Lewis, pp. 115 - 117
           Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Cornell Legal Information )
           Diagram of  typical civil case in federal court

    September 25 - Guest speaker: Professor Brian Bromberger - The  Adversary
          read:  Burnham. pp. 82 - 131
          turn in: research exercise - Federal Statutes and Regulations

Thursday, October 2  - Computer training - please note the hour you are scheduled! 

Wednesday, October 29 class time change.  Class will be from 4 - 5 p.m.

Saturday, November 1 - Monday, November 3 - trip to Washington, DC

week 7
    September 30 - Methodology: Comparing Cases
           class discussion: Comparing Cases handout
           class discussion: Relationships of Courts handout
           turn in: research exercise - Legal Periodicals

    October 1 - Automated Legal Research
           read: Lewis, pp. 151 - 160, 165 - 168.

    October 2 - Lexis Training
           Classes are scheduled at 2 and 3 in the Library’s Electronic Resources Learning Center

week 8
    October 7 - Internet Research 
          read: handouts distributed in class
          turn in: writing exercise - Case Comparison
          Kathrine R. Everett Law Library home page
          Student selected Internet resources

    October 8 - Guest: Professor Joe Kalo - Property Law
           read: Burnham, pp. 432 - 457
           read: handout from Professor Kalo
           Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 505 U.S. 1003 (1992)

    October 9 - Guest: Carl Fox - Criminal Procedure 
           Mr. Fox is the Orange County, North Carolina District Attorney
           read: Burnham, pp. 275 - 314
           Diagram of typical criminal case in federal court 

week 9
    October 14 - Guest: Professor Mike Corrado  - Criminal Law
           read: handout from Professor Corrado
           read: Burnham, pp. 488 - 509

    October 15 - Fall Break
    October 16 - Fall Break

week 10
    October 21 - Guest: Professor Jerry Markham - Business Law
           read: Burnham, pp. 510 - 556

    October 22 - Guest: Professor Ruth Walden - Media Law and the First Amendment
           Professor Walden teaches in the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication
           read: handouts from Professor Walden
           New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964) (written opinion of the case)
           Oral argument from the OYEZ site at Northwestern University

   October 23 - Writing a Legal Memorandum / Citation Style
           read: class handouts
           Selected Legal Writing Materials on the Internet

week 11
    October 28 - Preparations for U.S. Supreme Court Visit 

           read: Case Summary - Fidelity Financial Services v. Fink, 96-1370 and 11USC 547
           read: Supreme Court Decision Making handout
           read: Bankruptcy handout
           Biographies and photograph of the Justices of the US Supreme Court
           Virtual tour of the Court from the OYEZ project at Northwestern University
           A guide to the Court from the Washington Post - gossip, history and more.

    October 29 - Guest: Professor Rich Rosen - Capital Punishment
           read: to be announced
           Cornell Law School Death Penalty Project

    October 30 - Guest: Professor Caroline Brown - Contract Law
           read: Burnham, pp. 379 - 400

week 12
    November 3 - Visit to Washington D. C.
           Leave Saturday am, November 1; return to Chapel Hill Monday evening, November 3.
           Information about Washington
           Map of the Washington Mall and links to area attractions
           Metro map

    November 4 - Guest:  Professor Jack Boger - Constitutional Law
           Class discussion will focus on yesterday's visit to the Court
           read: Burnham, pp. 315 - 355; 370 - 378

If the court calendar permits, we will observe a trial court proceeding in Hillsborough, NC Wednesday, November 5.  We will leave Chapel Hill at 3 pm and return around 5:30.  We may need to move this visit to the following Wednesday (November 12); please keep your time flexible.

    November 5 - Trial Court Observation

    November 6 - No class - work on memorandum assignment

week 13
    November 11 - Guest: Professor John Calmore - Torts Law
           read: Burnham, pp. 401 - 431

    November 12 - to be announced

    November 13 - Final class of the semester
           read: no reading assignment
           turn in: legal memorandum

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