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Spring 2024 Course Classifieds

AI and the Law (Cyphert)

A large language model trained on bestsellers “writes” a book and a judge has to determine the copyright issues. An algorithm fueled by machine learning helps determine how likely a defendant is to reoffend, and thus how long of a prison sentence she should have. Lawyers hire firms that use big data to predict how a judge might rule in a particular case and even what kind of language in a motion might be most persuasive. These are not scenes from science fiction but rather real-world examples of artificial intelligence at work in our society and legal system. This course will help familiarize law students with the basics of artificial intelligence, including machine learning, generative AI, and algorithmic decision making. We will study ideas from computer science, data science, and philosophy. We will learn about the impact of bias in data training sets, why explainability and interpretability matters, and how deepfakes might impact upcoming elections. Lawyers will increasingly be required to be familiar with these ideas to be effective advocates in almost any field, and this course will help them prepare for that future.

Advanced Evidence (McDiarmid)

There are two objectives for this class.  The first is that you learn to use Evidence as a litigator does.  By the end of the course, I hope that you will have learned a series of analytical methods and litigation skills which will enable you to deftly handle such issues as they arise in your practice.  By examining real cases and conducting a mock evidence exercise with real witnesses, you will take Evidence out of the context of the rules and learn how to use it for your clients.

The second objective is to work on developing a policy to address a troublesome issue under the Rules of Evidence.  In the last several years, this class has concentrated on the appropriate role of judges in controlling the use of expert witnesses.  The Judicial Conference addressed that issue in the Rules currently pending before Congress.  (I am not convinced that their solution was the right one, but for the moment, the issue is off the table.)  Therefore, we are going to turn our attention to the emerging issue of fabricated evidence (deep fakes in the public parlance) and of constraining use of electronic evidence in a variety of settings.  Do the current rules give the courts the right tools to address these problems?  If not, what rules should be drafted to do that task?

Entrepreneurship for Lawyers (Peck)

Ever watch Shark Tank and wonder how those entrepreneurs got there? It wasn’t magic or accident – they learned The Entrepreneurship Method, and you can too. 

If you want to be an entrepreneur in a fast-changing legal profession, take this 1-hour, Pass/Fail class and learn the method and mindset to lead the pack while others struggle to adapt. Not much reading, but be prepared for doing – each class you’ll practice a different entrepreneurship skill, like:

  • spotting common customer/client problems and innovating solutions
  • prototyping new products and services models
  • evaluating customer/client experiences
  • refining your ideas based on data
  • approaching and engaging potential mentors and partners
  • identifying and pursuing funding opportunities
  • pivoting after “failure” (AKA more data)
  • and, yes,
  • PITCHING your ideas to investors! If you want, you can take your idea to actual pitch competitions held at WVU and elsewhere, with a chance to win seed money to start your business.

Schools of business and entrepreneurship have taught this method for years – it’s time law students got in on the “secret” to industry disruption, innovation, and pathbreaking success. 

Seminar: Land Use Planning – Tuesdays 5-6:55 p.m.(Richardson)

Whether you plan to represent landowners, energy companies, environmental groups, developers, farmers, or local governments, you must know how to navigate the common law and regulatory maze that is land use planning. This seminar includes property rights and regulatory takings, environmental justice, energy, land conservation, agriculture, climate change and more. The material covers the multi-faceted nature of land use regulation in the United States.  Generally, the seminar begins with common-law and private-law mechanisms for controlling land use and moves into the regulatory state and land use planning. The common thread running throughout the seminar involves the tension between private property rights and the rights of the public.

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. 

Advanced Legal Research (Stump)

Professor N. Stump’s section of Advanced Legal Research (“ALR”) covers advanced legal research and analysis methods at the federal, multi-state, and local levels and prepares students for comprehensive research projects typical in contemporary firm practice. Throughout the course, ALR foregrounds intensive workshopping of in-class hypotheticals, advanced online search techniques, time-efficient legal research, and cost-effective legal research. ALR also covers specialized topics such as generative AI-driven legal research, legislative history research, and practitioner research and tools (e.g., case docket research and locating model forms).

Remedies (Titolo)

What can the law provide to parties who have been wronged? How does the law measure damages? What types of relief are available to injured parties? The answers to these questions can be found in the law of remedies, which is arguably the most important part of any lawsuit. Remedies, after all, are the primary motivation for parties to litigate in the first place. We will discuss legal theories and principles of remedies, including: legal and equitable remedies; compensatory damages; punitive damages; restitution and unjust enrichment; declaratory judgments and injunctive relief. A mix of practice and theory, this is a great course for students who plan on pursuing a career in civil litigation, but also a helpful review for substantive areas of the law you learned throughout law school such as contracts, torts and statutory causes of action. Final exam administered during final exam week.

Multi-state Bar Exam (MBE) Skills (Trychta)

Law 667 - CRN 11850 - 2 credits: begins January 8, 2024

  • My most popular course; open to everyone who is graduating in 2024.
  • We will review the eight subjects tested on the multiple-choice component of the bar exam by watching lecture videos and then completing multiple choice practice questions.
  • The videos and practice questions are set in asynchronous modules you complete on your own schedule each week. All assignments for the week are due on Sunday night.
  • We also complete the bar exam application as a component of this course.
  • Pass/ Fail grading. 
  • Required textbook is a Themis-created online video course (about $75).  Also recommended that you purchase “Strategies & Tactics for the MBE” (8th ed.) but not required. 

Performance Test (PT) Skills (Trychta)

Law 664 - CRN 15365 - 1 credit: begins March 4, 2024

  • This course is limited to students who wish to focus on their timed exam writing skills. Students will complete a performance test exercise (similar to a legal writing assignment) each week and receive individualized feedback on the writing skills.
  • Because this is a writing intensive course, enrollment is limited. 
  • Asynchronous modules you complete on your own schedule each week.  All assignments for the week due on Sunday night.
  • The course runs during the second half of the spring semester. Students who enroll in both bar prep courses are encouraged to finish most of their assignments for MBE Skills early, before the performance test course begins.
  • Pass/ Fail grading. 
  • Required textbook is a Rigos book costing about $80. 

Law 762. Federal Courts (Weishart)

This is an advanced course in constitutional law and procedure which addresses when Article III courts may exercise jurisdiction and provide relief. If you are still reading this description after that first sentence, be encouraged that my approach will be practically oriented, designed for students planning to litigate in federal courts (odds are many of you) or those planning to clerk for federal judges. Essentially, we will be discussing whether a case can be brought in federal court, when a federal court should abstain from deciding a case, and the scope of a federal court’s authority once it properly exercises jurisdiction over a case. Topics include subject matter jurisdiction, federal appellate review, justiciability doctrines (e.g., standing, ripeness, mootness), state sovereign immunity from suit, Section 1983, Bivens actions, and suits against the United States. Grading components include a short writing assignment on a class topic of your choice, group exercises, discussion leader participation, and likely a take-home exam.

Law 688K Seminar: Schools, Race, Money, and More (Weishart)

This interdisciplinary seminar and perspective course explores the relationship of law and policy in the administration of elementary and secondary public education in the United States. We will examine in depth topics affecting most K–12 public school students: (1) the structure, hierarchy, and governance of public schools; (2) desegregation and resegregation; (3) school finance, including the state constitutional right to adequate and equitable educational opportunities; and (4) issues beyond schools, race, and money affecting educational outcomes. Students will prepare a research paper on an approved topic of their choice. Other grading components may include an abstract and outline for the research paper, class participation, and short blog posts paired with the assigned readings.

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