Law: concepts and perspectives

What you will study

The module explores the wider role of law in society and the international community by considering different legal systems and traditions. It considers civil law, common law and national systems and discusses the nature of legal obligations.

Having set the wider context the module then explores the nature and role of a justice system. This is done by consideration of criminal and civil justice systems, their role, purpose, operation and function. The key concepts of rights and responsibilities are explored by considering both criminal and civil liability. This is built on through a discussion of the provision of legal services and an exploration of the issues surrounding access to the justice. Case studies are used at intervals throughout the module to highlight the relevance and application of key principles.

The module ends by considering key concepts which underpin a range of legal thinking. This section of the module explores human rights, the international human rights framework, the relationship between law and morality and the philosophical foundations of the concept of justice. Here examples will be used to encourage reflection on practical situations. These subjects have been deliberately placed here to encourage you to think about the wider role played by law, its changing nature and impact.

Throughout the module you will explore the meaning of justice in a legal system, and the features of a just legal system. You will also be asked to think about the role and nature of the law and key legal concepts and the relationship between law and morality. Vocational relevance

The module develops vocationally-orientated skills that are transferable to the job market: good written and communication skills; reaching reasoned conclusions; critical thinking; ability to analyse, synthesise, reflect on and present arguments; and problem solving and evaluating issues. Professional recognition

If you are intending to use this module as part of the LLB, and you hope to enter the Legal Professions, you should read carefully the careers information on The Open University Law School website. There are different entry regulations into the legal professions in England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the […]

Dating in law school: The dos and don’ts

By Alexandra Sumner

When discussing the idea of dating during law school, the question is not: “Should you date someone while in law school?” It’s: “Should you even date someone who’s in law school?” No, probably not.

Law students (myself included) have the tendency to believe the entire world revolves around their three-year degree and that everyone — including significant others — should bend themselves around our tight schedule because, “We have it harder than you.”

I’ve seen more than a few law school relationship articles which encourage the non-law student to “just be sensitive” and “don’t expect a lot from him [or her] because they’re under a lot of pressure.” Articles that admonish displeased partners for wanting more than a high-five and a Hot Pocket on date night. Blurbs that decry the selfishness and greed of these non-legal lovers; how can they not understand time and energy it takes to read for torts? Why can’t they just understand that he didn’t have the time to text you all week because he was in class?

Look at me: Because it is a lie.

As much as I am drawn to hyperbole, even I can admit that we aren’t kept prisoner in the classroom. Our cellphones aren’t taken away and our brains aren’t removed and steeped in elitism. We have the time to text you back; the truth is we choose not to.

You should never let your significant other get away with inconsiderate or offensive behavior just because he or she is in law school. You have every right to hold them accountable for their actions, and you shouldn’t look over numerous excuses and missed plans. We’re not dead, just busy.

Think of it this way: if you’re dating someone who is treating you poorly now, how will your relationship suffer after that person becomes an attorney? How can you foresee a future with someone who doesn’t consider you a priority, and whose life is only going to advance in responsibility and stress levels? If he doesn’t have time for you now, when will he?

I’m going to say the thing all law students fear being said: […]

Columbia Law School Students Are Turning Into Legal Tech Developers

Jerome Greene Hall, the primary home of Columbia Law School. (Courtesy photo) Columbia Law School students are using a software program to create apps to help various legal organizations’ clients automate the drafting of legal documents. The project came after Columbia Law School Legal Technology Association, a student-led association seeking to expose members to the broad scope of legal technology, and HelpSelf Legal teamed up in the spring 2018 semester to offer HelpSelf’s document automation builder software for worthy causes. Want to continue reading?
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Harvard Law School Pipeline Parity Project Celebrates Another Change to Controversial Law Firm Policies

Harvard Law School Library The Pipeline Parity Project — a Harvard Law School student group that has pushed law firms to remove controversial arbitration policies — celebrated again Friday after the firm Kirkland & Ellis announced it was removing the mandatory agreements for all of its employees.

The decision comes after the student group began pressuring Kirkland & Ellis — the world’s highest-grossing law firm — to remove the agreements last month. Almost three weeks ago, the firm announced it was ending the policy for associates, but it remained in place for non-associate employees.

Mandatory arbitration agreements require employees to settle disputes through a private arbiter rather than bringing their concerns to the courts. The Pipeline Parity Project claims these contracts “silence victims of sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination,” according to their website.

In an interview last week, Pipeline Parity Project Member and second-year Law student Alexandra “Vail” Kohnert-Yount said that though the firm had dropped its mandatory agreements for associates, the group continued its efforts to convince Kirkland & Ellis to drop the agreements for all employees.

“The Kirkland campaign is sort of ongoing because they haven’t actually dropped forced arbitration for their no-lawyer staff — they haven’t totally capitulated either,” Kohnert-Yount said last week.

With Friday’s announcement, Kohnert-Yount commended the changes in a statement posted to the Pipeline Parity Project’s website.

“We’re glad that firms like Kirkland & Ellis and Sidley Austin are doing the right thing by dropping forced arbitration for all of their employees, not just the ones with law degrees,” Vail Kohnert-Yount said, referencing another firm that also changed their policy recently.

She added that she hopes the firm will consider not using arbitration on behalf of their clients.

“Hopefully, the lawyers at these firms will also consider their moral responsibility not to enforce these types of coercive contracts on behalf of their clients as well, because it’s obvious that forced arbitration impedes access to justice,” Kohnert-Yount said in the statement.A spokesperson for Kirkland & Ellis did not respond to a question asking whether the firm decided to drop the agreements after pressure from the Pipeline Parity Project.The group’s advocacy around Kirkland […]

It’s law and order for St Mary’s as London university launches new school

Lord Kerr was on hand to help launch St Mary’s new law school Lord Kerr was in attendance alongside a host of other luminaries on Tuesday evening as St Mary’s University launched its new law school.

Lord Kerr, who serves as a Justice on the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, helped mark the official unveiling of the revamped St Mary’s Law School by delivering a keynote speech at the Twickenham-based university’s campus.

The speech, which focused on the ongoing relationship between European and British law as well as the challenges facing current students of law, was the highlight of an evening that also saw the university release details of a series innovative new undergraduate and masters programmes.

Pro-Vice Chancellor of St. Mary’s University, Ruth Kelly heralded an ‘incredibly exciting few months’ for St Mary’s University after the launch of its new law school.

Kelly, who is the Twickenham-based university’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, was speaking at the official unveiling of the revamped St Mary’s Law School and a series of new and innovative undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. The evening also served to highlight the progress St Mary’s has made since being awarded a full university title in 2014, with the new law school following swiftly on from the launch of the Business and Society faculty last month.

"It’s been an incredibly exciting few months. Just recently St Mary’s launched the School of Business and Society and now we’re launching St Mary’s Law School,” Kelly said.

"St Mary’s Law is developing very rapidly. We launched our first law courses six years ago and then a couple of years ago we introduced the LLB in Law and Criminology. Now tonight we’re launching two masters programmes – both LLMs – and one with the ICP.

As part of the new courses, St Mary’s students will have the opportunity to spend a semester abroad as the Institut Catholique de Paris (ICP); an aspect Kelly believes will give them an edge when it comes to future employability.

"Our students are going to have fantastic opportunities,” she added. “The students studying the new Masters programme in International and European Business Law will spend one […]

‘SAN rank is the ultimate achievement for all of us at the bar’

Octogenarian law practitioner, life bencher and former chairman of Body of Benchers, Chief George Uwechue (SAN) Chief George Uwechue was born in Ogwashi-Uku, Aniocha-South Local Council Area of Delta State on November 30, 1938. He was educated in Nigeria and the United Kingdom (UK) where he bagged his LLB (second-class honours) in 1965. At the completion of his law programme, he returned to Nigeria and enrolled at the Nigeria Law School between September and December 1965 and was called to the Bar on January 21, 1966.

He was appointed a Notary Public on September 27, 1975. On June 7, 1993, he was elevated to the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Uwechue, a life bencher holds the fellowship of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) and served as chairman, Body of Benchers, between 2010 and 2011. He is the principal counsel of his firm of legal practitioners, G. N. Uwechue and Company since February 19, 1975.

In 2013, 35 professors of law led by Prof. M.O.U Gasiokwu published “Law in motion, nurturing democracy and development; essays in honour of Chief George Uwechue (SAN), (FNIALS), Owelle of Ogwashi Uku.”

There are lawyers who believe that the award of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) as a mark of distinction to selected members of legal practitioners is unfair. They argue that the rank should be abolished, insisting that undeserving members of the Bar get rewarded with it, while many qualified practitioners are left out.

For some, it creates a kind of cabal within the profession, while others think deserving lawyers should be awarded the rank without asking them to apply for it. But octogenarian law practitioner, life bencher and former chairman of Body of Benchers, Chief George Uwechue (SAN) in this interview with Assistant Editor, Law and Foreign Affairs, JOSEPH ONYEKWERE disagrees. According to him, the rank is still the ultimate achievement for all at the bar, irrespective of the numerous complaints.

What informed your decision to study law?

During our time, there were few professions that one could […]

Law exam question on Muslim man killing cow triggers row, Delhi govt orders inquiry

GK Web Desk A Delhi university has retrospectively “deleted” a question in a law exam that asked the students to decide the whether a Muslim man committed any offence by slaughtering a cow in the presence of Hindus.

According to a report in The Indian Express, the question formed a part of the Law of Crimes-I paper held on December 7. Of the colleges affiliated to GGSIPU, ten offer the LLB course and received the question paper.

“Ahmed, a Muslim kills a cow in a market in the presence of Rohit, Tushar, Manav and Rahul, who are Hindus. Has Ahmed committed any offence?” This was among the questions in a third-semester end term examination for law students of the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU), the report said.

As an image of the question paper surfaced on social media, the university, when contacted, said it “regretted” the question and decided to “delete” it, and that students will not be evaluated on their answer.

Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia said he has ordered an inquiry into the matter.

“It is very bizarre and seems to be an attempt to disturb the harmony of society. We won’t tolerate such misconduct. I am ordering an inquiry, and if found true, strongest action will be taken,” Sisodia was quoted as saying.

Bilal Anwar Khan, a Supreme Court lawyer, tweeted an image of the question paper Sunday night and wrote, “Here is a new normal, de-humanising an entire community. A law college at Narela, NCR’s third-semester question paper (sic)”. Here is a new normal, De-humanising an entire community, A Law College at Narela, NCR’s Third Semester Question Paper
— Bilal Anwar (@bak_bilal) December 9, 2018 The college he was referring to is the Chandra Prabhu Jain (CPJ) College of Higher Studies and School of Law at Narela, which is affiliated to GGSIPU.

Khan said he had written to the university and the college about the matter but was yet to receive a response.
In his email, he said, “The nature of question paper is highly derogatory in its form and nature against particular class and community. The question blatantly dehumanises […]

Penn will be the first top law school to require attorney mental health training for students

Penn Law will launch a pilot program this spring to integrate sessions on attorney well-being into mandatory coursework, making it the first top-ranked law school in the country to do so.

In 2017, the American Bar Association reported high levels of stress, depression, and substance abuse among practicing lawyers. In response to the report, Penn Law developed the program on the importance of attorney mental health.

1992 College graduate John Hollway, associate dean and executive director of the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice, said the program will focus on the resilience and mindfulness of lawyers. The pilot program will be integrated as a module into the mandatory upper-level course titled "Professional Responsibility."

“What’s really exciting about this is that it’s actually getting woven into the curriculum,” Hollway said. “This is not a bolt-on program that is given less priority than [students’] academics. This is part of their academics.”

Second-year Penn Law student Maura Hallisey said the pilot program is a step in the right direction.

“Thinking about well-being and professional satisfaction and how to achieve the most for yourself, your families, and the world around you is important and should be something we talk about,” Hallisey said. John Hollway (C’92, MAPP ’18) is the Associate Dean and Executive Director of the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at Penn Law. (Photo from John Hollway) The pilot program was developed by Hollway, who received a master’s degree in Applied Positive Psychology from Penn in 2018, and by 2004 Penn Law graduate Jennifer Leonard, who is the Penn Law associate dean for Professional Engagement as well as the director of Penn Law’s Center on Professionalism.

“John and I are working with those faculty members to figure out exactly where in their syllabus it makes sense to integrate the module and how best to present it to the students,” Leonard said.

The program is not the first step Penn Law has taken to address student mental health.

Last year, Penn Law partnered with the master’s program in Applied Positive Psychology to incorporate positive psychology into the law school curriculum. In November, Penn Law and the […]

UCLA faculty voice: Why is it so much harder to become a lawyer in California than in New York?

As the legal profession has evolved, law schools have been offering more clinics and specialized training, further distancing their curricula from what’s on the bar exam.

Jennifer Mnookin is dean of UCLA School of Law. She is also the co-director of UCLA Law’s program on understanding law, science and evidence. David Faigman is chancellor and dean at the UC Hastings College of the Law. Stephen Ferruolo is dean at the University of San Diego School of Law. This op-ed appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

The State Bar of California has done it again, failing nearly 60 percent of the law school graduates who took the exam in July. It was the worst outcome since 1951. And yet thousands of these graduates, if they had taken the test in virtually any other state, would now be embarking on their legal careers instead of having to prepare to take it again in February.

The score needed to pass the California bar exam — called the “cut score” — is 144. We are the only state to set its cut score above 140 other than Delaware (with 172 applicants, compared with California’s 8,071). This is profoundly out of line with the rest of the country. Nationwide, the median score needed to pass is 135.

In New York, the state with a legal practice most like California’s in scale and complexity, the cut score is 133. Among graduates of ABA-accredited law schools there, 83 percent passed the state bar exam the first time they took it. In California, though, the comparable rate was 64 percent. That likely would be 20 percentage points higher if our cut score matched New York’s. Is New York inflicting on its populace thousands of unqualified lawyers through its lower cut score? We have yet to hear of it.

The state bar, the California Legislature and the California Supreme Court — which has ultimate authority to set the cut score — need to bring rationality to our bar exam by aligning it with the standards of comparable states.

As law school deans, we witness the harm done to our graduates and to […]

Welcome To The Biglaw Holiday Party, Law Students

With final exams in full swing here at Vanderbilt, the minds of many law students, both in Nashville and elsewhere around the country, have likely started to wander into thoughts of how they will be spending their winter break. Indeed, as front lawns and shopping malls are increasingly festooned with all manner of decorations, it is hard to ignore the fact that the holiday season is upon us. While many law students are eager to spend the holiday break engaging in some of their favorite activities which might have recently fallen by the wayside, such as eating a homecooked meal or sleeping, this extended period of time off also presents a prime opportunity for students to engage in the vital task of networking . This networking can take the form of continuing already established outreach, but winter break also provides a unique networking opportunity, the holiday party. Aimed mainly at 1Ls, but occasionally open to all law students, these holiday parties serve as an opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with a particular legal employer (note that these parties are thrown almost exclusively by law firms) while providing the employer with a chance to put faces, and perhaps, more importantly, behavior — more on that in a moment — with the names on the job applications that they have received or will soon receive. Yet despite the seemingly straightforward rationale for all parties involved, these holiday soirées can occasionally flummox students.

The most frequent question I have fielded on the subject is, perhaps, the most straightforward one: “Should I go”? The short answer is, sure, why not. An opportunity to consume some free food and drinks while learning about a place you might spend the next 30 years of your life sounds like a decent way to spend a late December evening. At the very least, it will be more productive than your eighth viewing of A Christmas Story . Plus, the budgets for these receptions tend not to be on the low side. While you likely will not be served a homecooked meal, unless your family has a few […]

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