Mercer University
Mercer Law School

Course Descriptions

Please select the courses you would like to review from the list below.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Courses are graded unless indicated as Pass/Fail. Unless otherwise indicated, all courses will employ one or more evaluation methods, such as a final examination. Students are encouraged to speak with instructors for more details about course coverage and requirements.

Seminars Courses

Fall Semester

American Indian Law Seminar LAW 429 2 Hours
This seminar will examine the body of law dealing with the status of American Indian tribes, their special relationship to the federal government, and the governmental policies underlying that relationship. It will focus on the major questions in Indian law today, including the legal interrelationships among tribal, state, and federal governments; tribal gaming and economic development; claims of tribal membership and identity; and tribal rights to natural resources. Each student will prepare a research paper on a current topic, chosen with the approval of the instructor, and will present the results of her or his research to the class. Grading will be based on the quality of the research paper, an oral presentation of that paper, and class participation. Limit: 15 students. Numerically graded. Open to second- and third-year students. Not offered fall 2015.

Comparative Constitutional Law Seminar LAW 399 2 Hours
This class is a comparative survey of constitutionalism, ancient and modern. We will explore the theoretical foundations of constitutionalism, and discuss the implications of this widespread phenomenon. Of special interest will be the philosophical underpinnings of founding documents in historical context. We will review the different models of constitutionalism, paying particular attention to modern constitutional movements in Europe and Africa. Each student will choose a founding movement, and explore the constitutional development which flowed from that founding. Not offered fall 2015.

Corporate Issues Seminar LAW 521 2 Hours
The seminar focuses on the theoretical and practical nature of the corporate entity (with occasional attention to other business forms), its historical development, sociological and political influence, and social responsibility. In fall 2014, the seminar will focus on the business of agriculture. The first several weeks will include materials on agricultural business forms, agricultural economics, tax, federal and state programs, etc. Students will complete a research paper on a topic of their choice and present it orally to the seminar. (Note: This material is not just for those contemplating a career in transactional law. It is also pertinent for future litigators. A very high percentage of cases filed in Georgia’s courts involve a farm or agribusiness as a party.) Pre-requisite: Business Associations. Enrollment limited to 15. Graded. Not offered fall 2015.

Domestic Relations Seminar LAW 444 2 Hours
The course will focus on issues in the area of family law that are not covered in Domestic Relations or that are worthy of more in-depth study than is possible in the basic course. The specific areas of focus may differ from year to year. One substantial research paper will be required in lieu of an examination. Domestic Relations is a prerequisite or corequisite. Enrollment limited to 15. Seniors only. Not offered fall 2015.

Education Law and Policy Seminar LAW 516 2 Hours
This course offers an introduction and overview of the laws relating to public schools, teachers and students, as well as the role of law regarding higher education institutions. The course covers a variety of important topics, such as legal issues that impact instructional programs, the rights and liabilities of teachers and students, and issues related to curriculum control, academic freedom, and institutional compliance and regulatory matters. In addition, the course examines federal and state law regarding student privacy concerns, gender equity, as well as constitutional protections of due process, equal protection and search and seizure. A seminar paper and a presentation of the paper will be required. Enrollment limited to 15. Not offered spring 2015.

Environmental Law Seminar LAW 649 2 Hours
This course will supplement the introductory environmental law course and will provide an opportunity for students who have an interest in environmental law to develop a broader understanding of issues that are either not addressed in the introductory course, or are not addressed at the level of detail that is possible in a seminar setting. Topics will vary from year to year and may include: public resource management, natural resource management, toxic torts, pollution, prevention, environmental justice, international environmental law, regulation of hazardous waste and toxic substances, and regulation of air and water pollution. Although this course supplements the introductory environmental law course, students who have not taken the introductory course may take the seminar with permission of the instructor. Research paper required. Enrollment limited to 15. Seniors only, but open to 2Ls during Drop/Add if seats are available.

Federal Tax Policy Seminar LAW 2003 2 Hours
An in-depth examination of the broad effect of certain areas of tax law on public policy. Areas to be covered are the special rates applied to capital gain income and the use of deductions to effect public policy. Not offered fall 2015.

Fourteenth Amendment Seminar LAW 549 2 Hours
An examination of various issues arising under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. In the early part of the semester, the seminar meets to discuss assigned readings on selected issues typically not covered in detail in first-year Constitutional Law. The class meetings in the latter part of the semester are devoted to discussions of each student’s seminar paper. Each student is required to submit a substantial paper on an approved topic, which may include topics not covered in the assigned readings. In addition, each student is assigned to write brief written critiques of two other students’ papers and to lead, with one other student, the class discussion of those papers. Numerically graded. This seminar satisfies the upperclass writing requirement. Open to 2L and 3L students. Not offered fall 2015.

Jurisprudence of Legal Practice & Legal Ed Seminar LAW 660 2 Hours
In this seminar we shall study various jurisprudential ideas and various ideals that have shaped the development of U.S. legal practice and legal education since the founding of the Republic until the present day. Our purpose is to help us become more reflective legal professionals who understand the power of ideas and ideals in shaping our social and professional realities, so that we can choose more consciously, and commit more resolutely to, those ideals of professional excellence we want to guide us in our professional lives. Such ideals of professional excellence are at the heart of the concept of professionalism. The seminar, then, builds upon the foundation provided in the first year Legal Profession course by continuing to explore the question what it means to become a lawyer/person of good judgment and how the answer to that particular question relates to the overall question, “What kind of person/lawyer (who) do I want to be?” Part One of the seminar (7 weeks) will address the jurisprudence of legal practice. We will read and seek to evaluate Anthony Kronman’s book “The Lost Lawyer: Failing Ideals of the Legal Profession” (1993). In his book, Kronman analyzes and celebrates the classic professional ideal of the lawyer-statesman, possessing the virtues of practical wisdom and civic-mindedness, which was highly influential during the early part of the nineteenth-century and which has continued to be influential since that time. Kronman also examines various institutional forces in law firms, courts and law schools that have put pressure on the lawyer-statesman ideal and that have generated various competing professional ideals. Part Two of the seminar (3 weeks) addresses the jurisprudence of legal education. We will study a succession of jurisprudential ideas, as well as their impact upon the lawyer-statesman ideal (thereby also continuing a theme of Part One of the seminar). These ideas include: classical common law and natural law theory, Langdellian legal science, sociological jurisprudence, American legal realism, legal process jurisprudence, fundamental rights jurisprudence, law and economics, critical legal studies, feminist jurisprudence, the law and literature movement, and postmodern jurisprudence. In Part Three of the seminar (3 weeks), participants will present a paper on a topic related to the subject matter of the seminar. Participants will also make presentations based on the assigned readings during the meetings in Parts One and Two of the seminar. Enrollment limited to 15. Open to 2L and 3L students. S/U Not offered fall 2015 semester.

Tort Law Seminar LAW 656 2 Hours
The seminar will focus on selected current issues in the law of torts in the context of the classical principles of civil liability. Reading assignments will include in-depth analytical treatments of landmark judicial decisions in the law of torts, as well as contemporary cases and statutes. Students will prepare individual research papers on topics chosen with the approval of the instructor and will present the results of their research to the class in the latter weeks of the course. Grading will be based on the quality of the research paper, the oral presentation of that paper, and class participation. Graded. Enrollment limited to 15. Seniors only.

Transportation Law & Politics Seminar LAW 527 2 Hours
This course explores how transportation laws tend to structure road wars, sprawl fights, pork-barrel politics, and community planning. The course highlights the real people who help make hard transportation decisions about such things as where the rubber meets the road. Open to second- and third-year students. Numeric grading. Enrollment limit of 15.

Spring Semester

Animal Law Seminar LAW 496 2 Hours
This seminar will examine the growing number of cases and statutes addressing the legal protections accorded to non-human animals. The subject of animal law is not synonymous with the animal rights movement, nor with any particular political, moral, or ethical agenda. Recent activism in this field, however, has raised a number of interesting questions about the status of animals in the law. Attention will be given to statutory protections for chimpanzees, porpoises, and the great apes, regulatory restrictions on the uses of laboratory animals, lawsuits seeking compensation for the loss of companionship of pets, wills creating trusts for the non-human beneficiaries, and animal cruelty and neglect statutes and their potential application to domestic livestock, veterinary practice, the entertainment industry, and hunting, horseracing and other sports. The course will consist of assigned readings of cases and secondary material and the supervised preparation of a research paper on a topic of each student's choosing. Graded. Enrollment limited to 15. Third-years only. Not offered spring 2015.

Constitutional Law Seminar LAW 423 2 Hours
The course permits in-depth analysis of major problems in Constitutional Law. Active participation by all students is emphasized. Enrollment limit of 15.

Contemporary Topics in Health Law Seminar LAW 2001 2 Hours
This seminar serves as an opportunity for students to study the recent, unprecedented changes to law and policy that affect the delivery of American health care spurred by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Issues to be examined include those that have caught nationwide headlines, including the creation of state-run insurance exchanges, the so-called “Medicaid expansion,” and the quite-public failure of the “public option.” In addition to learning about the key components of the law, students will have an opportunity to read about the ACA from many perspectives using various lenses—including examining the intended health policy effects of the law, exploring the deeper implications of the law toward improving public health and alleviating racial disparities and poverty, and learning about the law’s critiques—specifically that the law unconstitutionally impinges on the rights of states and individuals. In addition to studying the ACA, the course will also cover a survey of related but separate contemporary health law topics—including the growing cost of healthcare, the renewed focus on fraud and abuse, and challenges relating to quality. In the early part of the semester, the seminar will meet to discuss assigned readings, which will include the key U.S. Supreme Court case from 2012, NFIB v. Sebelius, as well as health policy briefs, law review articles, and newspaper articles. The class meetings in the latter part of the semester are devoted to discussions of each student’s seminar paper. Each student is required to submit a substantial paper on an approved topic, which may include topics not specifically covered in the assigned readings. Enrollment limit of 15.

Criminal Law & Psychiatry Seminar LAW 493 2 Hours
This course will explore the intersection of the criminal justice system and psychiatry. Each week will focus on a topic in which issues of mental health impact the criminal law. The course is jointly taught by a law school professor and a professor from the School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. The faculty member from the School of Medicine will present an overview of the relevant medical issues as to each topic, including overview of diagnoses, nature of the clinical examination as performed for legal purposes, and relationship of diagnoses to relevant legal issues. Each student will prepare a research paper on a topic, chosen with the approval of the instructor, and will present the results of his/her research to the class. Grading will be based on the research paper, an oral presentation of that paper, and class participation. No prerequisite. Numerically graded. Limit 15.

Current Criminal Law Issues Seminar LAW 518 2 Hours
This course is designed to provide students with a more in-depth analysis of some current and controversial issues being adjudicated in the criminal law field. We will discuss, among other things, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, the Fourth Amendment, the Insanity Defense, the Eighth Amendment, the Right to Assisted Suicide, the Death Penalty, and the impact of brain injury on mens rea and culpability. The primary goal is to examine each topic from a variety of perspectives (legal, constitutional, moral, socio-economic, theoretical), and discuss whether, and to what extent, certain behaviors or punishments do or do not constitute good policy in our jurisprudence. While each discussion may begin from a theoretical perspective, it will, in more important respects, examine how a particular law or policy impacts the individual, and whether such law/policy is consistent with principles of fairness and equality. Part of this discussion, therefore, will include an examination of specific constitutional provisions that may constrain a Court or legislature’s ability to prohibit certain conduct or provide for particular criminal penalties. Ultimately, the goal of this course is to have students think about criminal law issues from a variety of perspectives, and to form their own ideas about how they can contribute to the discourse in this area. Numerically graded. Not offered spring 2015.

International Law Seminar LAW 483 2 Hours
The purpose of the seminar is to explore at a general and theoretical level the recurring problems of international law. In particular, attention will be given to the nature of the state and of sovereignty, the relationship between international law and internal legal systems, and the extent to which international law can be normative. Consideration also will be given to the implications for international law of the various schools of jurisprudence, most notably positivism, empiricism, and natural law. (Prerequisite International Law) Enrollment limited to 15.

Law & Literature Seminar LAW 497 2 Hours
This course will examine the links between two bodies of discourse: law and literature. Law and literature are intimately related in two essential operations: interpretation and composition. Generally, law school courses in law and literature have explored these two operations by using one of two approaches: "Law as Literature," or "Law in Literature." Both methods draw on literary criticism and theory to gain new perspective and insight into the law. The "Law as Literature" school applies literary theory to legal texts. The "Law in Literature" school reads literary works dealing with legal themes or issues to help us understand the law and our role as lawyers in new ways. This course explores both of these approaches, with the goal of increasing student capabilities in both interpretation and composition. Enrollment limit of 15.

Legal Ethics Seminar LAW 511 2 Hours
This seminar explores a wide variety of issues in legal ethics selected, in consultation with the professor, by each enrolled student to respond to his or her anticipated future employment situations or own personal questions about the role of the lawyer. The issues explored in these research projects can vary from philosophical or theological matters to very specific ethical regulatory questions and all areas in between. A general theme, attempting to unite these research projects, will be offered by the professor through lectures, in class exercises, and round table discussions. Attendance is required. The class is pass/fail with this decision being made on the basis of the quality of the student's participation in discussions, several required work-in-progress presentations of the projects, weekly or bi-weekly journaling with the professor regarding the student's project, and one paper or formal presentation of the project to the class. Enrollment limit of 15. Not offered spring 2015.

Selected Topics in Modern Family Law Seminar LAW 500 2 Hours
This seminar will provide an in-depth examination of a number of today’s most salient family law issues. Early in the semester, each student, after consulting with the professor, will select a modern family law issue about which he or she will become the “class expert.” Each student will then prepare materials for and lead a one-hour class session on the legal issue he or she has chosen. In addition, students will write a substantial paper on a topic that falls within his or her chosen modern family law issue. A wide variety of topics are available to students, including marriage and alternative relationships, intra-family violence and abuse, assisted reproduction, parental rights and duties, how family law addresses issues related to gender, race, class, and sexual orientation, and more. The course will be numerically graded. Enrollment limit of 15.

Social Justice Lawyering Seminar LAW 2000 2 Hours
The poet, feminist scholar, and activist Audre Lorde stated “ . . . the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” But what of the master’s tools? How were they fashioned and how were they structured? For the litigator, the master’s tools are those of judicial narrative and interpretation. Lawyers use these tools to develop strategies and arguments that seek to maintain existing power structures or, if not to dismantle the master’s house, rearrange the furniture a bit to suit their client’s tastes. Teaching the effective wielding of these tools for the purpose of social justice lawyering is the goal of this course. Each student is required to complete a legal memo and a motion brief on a contemporary legal issue of their choosing and a reflection essay about their class experience. Grading will be based on the quality of the papers, class participation, and the completion of the reflection essay. No prerequisite. Numerically graded. Enrollment limited to 15.

Sports Law Seminar LAW 553 2 Hours
Weekly discussion topics include Agent Representation of the Professional and College Athletes, the Professional Team Sports Player in Contract, Anti-Trust and Collective Bargaining, Professional Sports Franchises, Sports Broadcasting, Merchandising and Intellectual Property Law, Commissioners and "the best interests of the game," Intercollegiate Sports and NCAA Regulation, Gender Equity, Individual Sports, and Disability and the Right to Play. Weiler and Roberts, SPORTS AND THE LAW, 3rd ed., and handouts serve as background for the weekly discussions. There will be at least one guest who will address one or more of the seminar topics. A seminar paper is required. Prerequisite: Labor Law. Limit: 15 (3Ls only)

The Religion Clauses of the First Amendment LAW 2002 2 Hours
This seminar provides both an introduction to, and a detailed examination of, the First Amendment’s Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses. The issues that arise under the Religion Clauses – prayer in public schools, state aid to parochial schools, religious displays on public property, religious claims for individual exemptions from generally applicable laws, and more – have been among the most heavily litigated and hotly contested constitutional issues of the past fifty years. In the early part of the semester, the seminar meets to discuss assigned readings, which primarily include the key U.S. Supreme Court cases in the area. The class meetings in the latter part of the semester are devoted to discussions of each student’s seminar paper. Each student is required to submit a substantial paper on an approved topic, which may include topics not specifically covered in the assigned readings. In addition, each student is assigned to write brief written critiques of two other students’ papers and to lead, with one other student, the class discussion of those papers. Enrollment limit of 15. Not offered spring 2015.

Topics in the Jurisprudence of Crimes Seminar LAW 489 2 Hours
In general, the course addresses basic issues relating to the substance of crime and punishment: reasons for punishment; the appropriateness of incarceration rather than other forms of deterrence; the nature of criminal harm; the moral significance of harm; the role of causation in determining culpability; consent to crimes; objective and subjective views of criminality; the development of particular crimes and modes of criminality, e.g., conspiracy, accomplice liability, and so on. We will read material that sets out and reflects upon some of the primary philosophical foundations for our conceptions of freedom and responsibility. Will require a major paper and journal. Although the amount of reading is manageable, the content is not for wimps. This spring, we will again consider issues of criminal law and neuroscience. Numerical Grade. Enrollment limited to 15.