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Fall 2024 Course Classifieds

Business Transactions Drafting (Alsop)

Business Transactions Drafting is a four-credit-hour capstone course.  At some point, almost every lawyer is involved in drafting or revising an agreement.  From a practical perspective, do you ever wonder how lawyers help clients create agreements to buy or sell real property or assets?  Or draft an employment agreement?  Have you ever heard the term “due diligence” or been asked to help with “reps and warranties” for an agreement and want to know more?  Do you want to learn what it takes as a recent law school graduate to add value to a transaction and impress a senior member of a law firm and a client?  If so, you should consider Business Transactions Drafting.  

Business Transactions Drafting is a skills course designed to help students learn the principles of contemporary contractual drafting and learn about the documents typically used in business-related transactions. We focus on understanding how to properly draft agreements and the business purpose of each typical contractual concept included in transactions.  

By the end of the course, you should be equipped to (1) translate your client’s business deal into agreement provisions; (2) draft the critical parts of an agreement with precision; (3) understand the due diligence process and its importance; (4) build trust and communicate with colleagues, clients, and other counsel to a transaction; (5) draft a complete agreement requiring minimal edits.

Bankruptcy I – Introduction (Deller)

Purdue Pharma.  Rite Aid.  Trump Taj Mahal.  Rudy Giuliani.  Mike Tyson. Rapper 50 Cent.  Francis Ford Coppola.  Boy Scouts of America.  Weinstein Company.  Pittsburgh Penguins.  Buffalo Sabres.  Arizona Diamondbacks.  Lehman Brothers. WorldCom.  And, Enron. What do these companies and persons have in common? The answer is simple – they have all filed for bankruptcy protection. 

Bankruptcy is re-emerging as a “go to” practice area, as bankruptcy filings have increased nationwide after the pandemic.  According to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, business filings rose 40% this past year and consumer filings increased another 17%.  Pundits in the financial world believe bankruptcy cases will continue to rise in the future given inflation and increased interest rates, which have tightened access to the credit markets.

Bankruptcy is an exciting practice area, where the attorney can make an immediate and tangible difference in people’s lives.  It is also complex, because state and federal law converge in virtually every bankruptcy case.

Taught by United States Bankruptcy Judge Jeffery A. Deller, who has  almost 20 years of experience and has presided over nearly 40,000 cases in his career, this course offers the student an introduction to the Federal  Bankruptcy Code with the emphasis on practical application of the legal policies behind this comprehensive statute.

Elements common to consumer and business bankruptcies  will be reviewed.   The course will explore qualifications for bankruptcy, the claims  allowance process, the automatic stay, and discharge of debts, as well as issues of civil procedure in the bankruptcy context and jurisdiction of the Federal Courts.  Further, state law issues of collection practice will be studied as they interact with the Code.

Bankruptcy II – Advanced (Deller)

Taught by United States Bankruptcy Judge Jeffery A. Deller, the purpose of the course is for students to gain an overview of advanced bankruptcy topics not ordinarily covered in an introductory course on bankruptcy law.  While having taken Bankruptcy I is welcome, it is not a pre-requisite for enrolling in this course.

In this class, students will be exposed to business related insolvency topics beginning with issues confronting an enterprise immediately preceding the filing of a bankruptcy case. In this regard, students will learn about the basic contours of a loan “workout” or “forbearance,” the fiduciary duties of officers and directors when a business enterprise is operating within the “zone of insolvency,” and non-bankruptcy alternatives to such situations (i.e., receiverships and similar remedies).

One of the goals of the class is to foster student appreciation of  the business and legal perspectives presented in such cases from both the debtor and creditor vantage point– after all law students will become lawyers representing clients who are debtors in some instances and creditors in other instances. 

Students in the class will also be exposed primarily to Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code (which is largely the vehicle used in corporate reorganization in bankruptcy). In this regard, students will be required to think about how Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code changes the non-bankruptcy law rights and obligations of the parties; the outer limits of bankruptcy court jurisdiction; how the pertinent provisions of the Bankruptcy Code may afford parties leverage in negotiations, the contours of the Bankruptcy Code permitting and regulating the sale of businesses and assets; the various players in the Chapter 11 process, and the reorganization process (including plan solicitation and confirmation) in general.

Where appropriate, the course will also touch upon ethical considerations for counsel representing either a distressed entity or its creditors. Also, inasmuch as bankruptcy proceedings include litigation, this course will also touch upon certain procedural and evidentiary issues that counsel may be required to confront.

Constitutional Law II (Bastress)

Constitutional Law II focuses strictly on the freedoms of expression and conscience contained or implied in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. They include the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, petition, association, and religion – the fundamental rights that enable individuals to develop their faculties and to participate in society and in the democratic processes. In addition to defining the scope of protection accorded to individuals who engage in expressive activities, the course addresses modern issues relating to the mass media, the Internet, and campaign finance. Study of the First Amendment would be of considerable value to anyone who wants to work in government, civil rights, the media, or who wants to participate in public discussion or the political process. It is also useful to anyone who will be taking a bar examination; forty to fifty percent of the multi-state constitutional law questions historically have been based on First Amendment issues. 

Local Government Law (Bastress)

This course, also known as State and Local Government Law, examines intergovernmental relations from both a vertical and horizontal perspective. The vertical relations are those between local governments and the state government and those between local/state governments and the federal government. Horizontal relations are those between local governments and those between the states. Issues include the distribution of powers between governments, the creation and significance of boundaries, voting rights, state and local finance, and the business of government (delivery of services, tort liability, and public employment matters). Most of the substance of the course is derived from state and federal constitutional law. The text and the classes will take a generic approach (i.e., not specific to WV), although West Virginia law will frequently be used to elaborate on subjects covered in the text. It’s interesting stuff and would be useful for anyone who works for a government, who represents local governments (cities, counties, school boards, special purpose districts), or who sues the bastards. 

Climate Change Law (Eisenberg)

Virtually all environmental law and policy discussions end up talking about climate change these days in one form or another. This course reflects timely and relevant content important for law students to be up to date on this dynamic area of law and policy. We will look at, and apply lessons about, climate change from a variety of angles, including the economic, political, legal, cultural, domestic, and international. We will focus in particular on efforts to use law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and efforts to use law to adapt to a changing climate. Various forms of activities and assessments will be used to promote active learning and skills development, including a mock international climate treaty negotiation.

Energy Law (Eisenberg)

Have you ever wondered what the charges on your electricity bill really are? Or what those big, ugly transmission lines at the side of the highway do? Or why we're suddenly seeing wind turbines popping up everywhere? In this course, we will explore these questions and other aspects of electricity regulation. Students will leave this course understanding how the energy grid works, the historical underpinnings of modern utilities law, and current legal and policy frameworks and tensions shaping this practice area. Various forms of activities and assessments will be used to promote active learning and skills development. Each student will be assigned to "teach a new technology" by presenting on one of the many novel technologies shaping current energy policy conversations. The entire class will also collaborate on creating a public-facing resource called the "People's Guide to Energy Policy," which will help laypeople understand this complex and important field.

EDiscovery (Mason)

This practical course offers students an opportunity to engage in the process of discovery with a professor who has 30 years of trial experience, including trials in WV, Pa, Ohio and Kentucky.  You will draft a litigation hold letter, create a data map of electronic and hard copy documents, depose a corporate designee, prepare and argue a Motion to Compel, and more.  While all of the work in the class will be focused on EDiscovery, you will be learning the process of discovery generally and applying it to a set of facts.  Your role will be that of an associate on a file and I will be your managing partner.  If you are seeking practical experience, this is your class.

Election Law (Murray)

In a 1946 redistricting case, Justice Felix Frankfurter wrote: "Courts ought not to enter this political thicket" and declared questions of redistricting should be answered exclusively by the democratically elected branches of  government. 

Times have changed.

In this class, students will survey the Supreme Court's decisions on all aspects of election law with an emphasis on redistricting, voting rights, and campaign finance. Students will also survey major federal legislative proposals to reform the election system. Grades will be based on classroom discussion, a short writing assignment, and a take home exam administered during finals week.

Agriculture Law (Richardson)

Agricultural Law is a seminar course that requires students to complete a substantial paper. There are no exams.

Drew Kershen identified three unique themes that characterize agricultural law. First, land, water, and the biological cycles of crops and livestock play critical roles in agriculture. Agricultural law exams how laws and legal institutions influence and shape the use of these resources. Second, agriculture is a highly regulated industry. Agricultural law explores the unique nature of the regulation of agriculture, which often takes the form of exemptions for agriculture from labor, antitrust, environmental and other laws.

Finally, agricultural law involves structural issues in agriculture. These issues raise the surprisingly vexing question of, “What is agriculture?” Related to the question is the issue of the scope of agritourism. These questions arise in a broad range of legal settings, including land use and any exemption for agriculture.

This course will provide students with a survey of agricultural law topics, including: what is agriculture 

  • What is agriculture?
  • What is agritourism?
  • Right to Farm laws, which protect agriculture operations from nuisance lawsuits and exempt agriculture from local regulation 
  • Agricultural environmental law 
  • THe agriculture/ energy nexus 
  • The agriculture/ water nexus
  • Farmland preservation 
  • Animal agriculture 
  • Food law

Wealth Transfers (Rogers)

Wealth Transfers is about death and money. This course, an introduction to trusts and estates, covers how people give away their property — through probate or contracts, by default or deliberate choice. To help students prepare for the bar exam, this course uses “spaced repetition” to lock in doctrinal knowledge. The course also strengthens skills such as parsing statutes, preventing and solving problems, evaluating legal policy, advising clients, and working in groups.  We will have an in-class final exam, but the course also has other graded activities such as taking quizzes and creating a personal estate plan. So, support your local skeletons! The Dead Hand beckons you to this course.

Law 669: The Scholarly Writing Workshop (Stimeling)

Are you planning to enroll in a seminar course this semester? If so, you should consider enrolling in this one-credit, pass/fail course designed to take the mystery and some of the stress out of writing a seminar paper. This course will allow students to gain a better understanding of the qualities and expectations of a seminar paper, and course assignments will help students progress through the seminar paper writing process. As a class, we will work together to support each other, share ideas, address challenges, and offer feedback throughout the writing process. Students previously enrolled in this course found it helpful in keeping their writing on track, and they found that the supportive environment increased their confidence in their writing. You must be enrolled in a seminar course to take this class.

American Legal History (Titolo)

Provides an overview of American legal history from the Colonial era to the present. This is a great way to see how American law fits together, since we will emphasize law in its broad social context. Topics will include early colonial law; the American Revolution, the Constitution and early republicanism; slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction; the rise of the regulatory state and economic regulation; the emergence of law schools and the legal profession; law, liberal legalism and the rights revolution. The course will end by discussing recent developments in the “war on terror” and the expansion of the surveillance state.

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