Legal Ethics | 2007 Syllabus

Course Objective

Legal Ethics is a course designed to examine how legal systems are used to "do justice." Legal systems "do justice" by adjudicating claims brought to court, and therefore litigation can be seen as a dispute resolution process. Using a case study approach, we will examine two instances of litigation as accounted for in A Civil Action and Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, which illustrate different approaches to dispute resolution, fact finding, and truth. We will assess the underlying rationale of the two case studies and explore the question of how to "do justice."



I will assign two or three chapters per week. Students are required to read the assigned chapter before class, which will be then discussed in class in a mixture of lectures and class discussions moderated by one of the students.

  • Lectures: There is no general textbook, so the lectures will introduce you to the basic concepts of civil and criminal procedure and to the legal concepts that we will encounter while reading the assigned materials. The topics and book chapters discussed in class can be found by clicking on the "Lectures" tab.
  • Class Discussions and Moderation: Every third class, one student will lead one discussion per semester (students may also pair up and lead two discussions, previous agreement with the instructor). The student(s) will be responsible to set up a discussion thread on Blackboard proposing a topic for discussion.
  • Research Paper: Each student will write a research paper incorporating class discussion (to be submitted on December 13, 2007).
  • Homework. I will give 5 take-home assignments throughout the semester, which are not mandatory and which will be graded on a pass/fail basis.


Time Expectation

This is a three-hour course. The expectation is 9 hours of preparation outside class each week. The course is structured to require 9 hours of readings and project work per week


Attendance Policies

Class preparedness and participation are essential to success in this course.  While there is no requirement to attend particular class, attendance is certainly an important course component, especially because there is no general textbook and therefore all background information and concepts will be explained in class. Students are expected to attend each class and to arrive promptly and remain for the entire class period. There is no laptop policy.


Tests and Final Exam

There is only a midterm test. The test is an open-book and open notes, and combines multiple choice questions and short-essay questions. The midterm is on October 23, 2007.


Grading Policies

Class Participation and Moderation - 20%

Midterm - 30%

Research paper - 40%

5 take-home assignments - 10% (2% each)


Course Materials

Jonathan Harr, A Civil Action (New York: Vintage Books 1996) Any edition

Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (Penguin Books 1963) Any edition

Articles and other publications made available on Blackboard


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