Monday, March 30, 2009

Someone Swung the Sensible Stick!

Great news from BB via email today:
  • After the 2009-2010 academic year, all 1L students will take five units of Civ Pro instead of four units (thereby eliminating the need for Civ Pro II).
  • Beginning with the class of 2012, students will be required to take 220.6 Constitutional Law, a four-unit class, to graduate.  While they do not have to take it in the first year, but 1Ls will be given priority to get into 220.6 in the second semester of their first year. 
  • Beginning now, if there are less than five students registered for a class by June 1, the class will be canceled.  Similarly, if a class has less than 10 students registered by the Friday of the first week of classes, it will be canceled.
Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows how much I approve of each of these changes. Civil Procedure and the Constitution are absolutely fundamental to litigation. And litigation is absolutely fundamental to our legal system. Sure, you get something from a curriculum without them. It's not necessarily an education, though.

The full email is posted in the comments.



Blogger Patrick said...


Some serious changes have been made in the curriculum that may be important to you. Since registration for the fall semester of 2009 will be quickly upon us, we wanted to tell you about them and give you time to think about the classes that you will be choosing. Phase One officially starts in mid-April so, to paraphrase the Walrus, the time has come to speak of them. There are four important points.

1. Last year the faculty voted to phase out Civ Pro II after the 2009-2010 academic year. The change is due to a new requirement that all 1L students take five units of Civ Pro instead of four units (thereby eliminating the need for Civ Pro II). Since we realize that some students who took the old version of Civ Pro will want to take Civ Pro II, we will continue to offer it next year. So, if you want to take Civ Pro II, you should enroll in either the Fall 2009 or Spring 2010. Those will be last two semesters that class will be offered. Forewarned is forearmed.

2. While we are on the topic of changes to the 1L curriculum, and the ripple effects that they will cause, the faculty voted last semester to change the Constitutional Law requirement beginning with the class of 2012 (next years 1Ls). Beginning with that class, students will be required to take 220.6 Constitutional Law, a four-unit class, to graduate. While they do not have to take it in the first year, we will be strongly recommending that they do so. Under this plan, 1Ls will be given priority to get into 220.6 in the second semester of their first year. This change does not affect the graduation requirements for current students, but I wanted to let you know since the 1Ls taking 220.6 next Spring will have an impact on your ability to enroll in it should you be interested.

3. Due to budget concerns, the Law School is taking a different approach to under-enrolled classes. If there are less than five students registered for a class by June 1, the class will be canceled. Similarly, if a class has less than 10 students registered by the Friday of the first week of classes, it will be canceled. Please be thoughtful about which classes you register for, and keep an eye on the enrollment in them, since classes may not be offered for lack of enrollment.

4. Finally, for the 1Ls - Dean Hirshen will have an advising session for you at lunch on April 9th in Booth Auditorium to offer more specific information about classes to consider, how the writing requirement works, and other information that we think will be helpful as you plan your time at Boalt. She will be sending out an email about that session this week.

Take a deep breath, we are heading into the home stretch of the semester.


3/30/2009 12:56 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Wow, that first one is huge. There have been a lot of debates here about combining CP I and CP II. As a 1L I was against the idea, but as I grew wiser, older, and wiser, I changed my mind. Great move by the faculty.

3/30/2009 1:08 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

I'm mostly ambivalent about the civ pro change. I don't see the benefits to the con law change. What was wrong with the way it was before? It seems like having a choice between structural, first amendment, etc. variants of con law allowed students to tailor their education the way they want it.

Also, not everyone wants to be involved in litigation, so pushing for con law in the first year doesn't benefit everyone. I know from personal experience that intro to IP is a huge benefit to students that want to work in IP their first summer. Other students I've talked to said how much their environmental and business electives helped for their 1L summer job. In fact, con law seems like it might be the least useful course for a summer job. Which is probably why they aren't making it mandatory. I don't view this change with abject disapproval, but it doesn't seem to qualify as "sensible" and surely isn't necessary.

3/30/2009 1:26 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

This is a good time to announce a new feature. I call it the "Toney's Bat Shit Crazy Alarm." It will go off whenever Toney says something that is bat shit crazy. The purpose of the alarm is to alert Toney, who will then reflect on why his comment is bat shit crazy. So, with respect to the second paragraph:


3/30/2009 1:31 PM  
Blogger Toney said...


It's because I used "abject", isn't it? FML. Because I KNOW it isn't because a 1L summer experiences very few constitutional issues they aren't already aware of.

3/30/2009 1:35 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

It doesn't seem to qualify as "sensible"

What do you mean? Does that make it insensible? Or stupid? To me, it seems to make sense to reserve seats in a required class for 1Ls who would like to take it during their first year.

And having seen what happens when non-constitutional lawyers try to play constitutional lawyer, I like the idea of requiring a general, rather than specific, Con Law course. (It also makes sense for the same reason that it makes sense to require Property rather than allowing Estates & Trusts to fill that requirement.)

As for the Civ Pro II thing, it doesn't appear to be meant to make us better litigators. It appears that they intended to fulfill an ABA (I'm guessing) requirement. I guess I'm just having a hard time seeing any lack of sensibility in this new policy. But perhaps you just misspoke.

3/30/2009 1:36 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Oh, and Constitutional Law and Civ Pro II will both be incredibly useful to 1Ls working for judges. Especially appellate judges. What is that - 20 percent? 25? 30? (Probably as many, if not more, than are doing any of the things you specifically named, Toney.)

3/30/2009 1:37 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Call me crazy, Toney, but there *might* be more at stake in a legal education than a 1L summer.

3/30/2009 1:37 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Actually, the alarm was tripped for assuming that your 1L curriculum has anything to do with your 1L summer job, as opposed to giving you the basic building blocks of a legal education, where Con Law should rate very high.

3/30/2009 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's batsh*t crazy? The fact that there are 1L summer jobs, or that Intro to IP may be more useful.

Last summer as a 1L, the attorneys were impressed by how much I knew about IP stating that I came in knowing more than many of their previous 2Ls. As a result, I got a lot of substantive work to tackle.

3/30/2009 1:39 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Nah, it all goes downhill after 1L summer. Or so I hear...

3/30/2009 1:39 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

While we're on awesome emails today, how about James Lyda? "DECREASING PROCRASTINATION WORKSHOP - Tomorrow" - classic. I think I saw that in a Family Guy once.

3/30/2009 1:44 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

Armen, con law was required before. They aren't doing away with it. My point had nothing to do with eliminating con law, or whatever other crazy scheme you envisioned, but rather the usefulness of pushing for it during one's 1L year.

There are other reasons for this beyond usefulness to your 1L job. If you want to take particular electives (especially with IP, but also in other fields), taking the intro course for that aspect of law your first year opens many doors your second year.

Also, Matt, I wasn't referring to the reserving of seats, and I wasn't implying the changes were "insensible". In fact, your argument, silly as it is, is that requiring con law does make sense for some students. That's no different than the old system, where you could take con law as a 1L if you wanted to. In the new system, you can opt out of it. The policy of just "pushing" for it doesn't make sense. In fact, it doesn't seem all that different at all.

I do agree that it may make sense to standardize con law, but it is still nice to be able to choose which variant you want to take.

Anyone else want to misinterpret my points and be corrected?

3/30/2009 1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL at the procrastination email - that was so classic.

I was attracted to Boalt by the idea of having at least one elective 1L year. This gets rid of that. Bummer.

That said, my con law was LAME. a basic 4 unit 1L version would probably teach me more.

both of those things said, put me squarely in the Intro to IP 1L year is a VERY GOOD THING camp. the IP program is boalt's core strength, what the school is known for, and should be very carefully protected.

3/30/2009 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When we eliminate the option to take Intro to IP as a 1L, we also eliminate the best proxy for determining who the biggest gunner douchebags are. Pity :(

3/30/2009 2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the important question is what is covered in the basic con law class that everyone must take.

i am of the opinion that the structural class is more useful for more different kinds of matters than the substantive rights class. the rights class is probably more interesting, but less useful day to day than knowing the minutiae of standing, separation of powers, etc.

my worry is that combining the two will not allow time for a mastery of either subject. they were separately a 4 and 5 unit class for a reason.

3/30/2009 2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does this mean incoming 1Ls will have to take 16 units in their first semester (5 for Civ Pro, 5 for torts/K, 4 for crim/prop + 2 for LRW)? That seems like a lot.

3/30/2009 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there are less than five students registered for a class by June 1, the class will be canceled. Similarly, if a class has less than 10 students registered by the Friday of the first week of classes, it will be canceled.

"fewer," not "less"

3/30/2009 4:05 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/30/2009 4:19 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

On that subject, I think the best way to prevent classes from being cancelled under this rule is to get the word out about them. I'll start.

Everyone who has any interest in Family Law, Criminal Law, or domestic violence in general, would benefit from enrolling in the Domestic Violence Practicum with Nancy Lemon. I know it was in danger of having fewer than five students this semester, so let's keep it as far from the chopping block as possible going forward. It's one of Boalt's most important programs.

3/30/2009 4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

important |imˈpôrtnt|

of little significance or value; unlikely to have a profound effect on success, survival, or well-being; unknown; unattended; in danger of being relegated to permanent obscurity: it's one of Boalt's most important programs.

3/30/2009 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One reason that the new con law option is good is that in the past little or no effort was made to ensure that any Con Law class was compatible with 1L schedules (which are mostly set for them). When I was a second-semester 1L, almost no one in my supermod was able to take any Con Law class, because they all conflicted with WOA or Torts. I would have liked to take it then, but wasn't able to (and in fact, still haven't, but I guess I can't blame that one as directly on the administration). It seems like a very good policy to make sure that 1Ls are at least able to take Con Law if they want to.

3/30/2009 4:56 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/30/2009 8:54 PM  
Blogger Tom Fletcher said...

Query: When Civ Pro I and II were separate, they constituted 7 to 8 units worth of work. How does the same material get condensed into 5 units? Will there be a follow-up, advanced civil procedure that covers what must inevitably be left out of the combined class?

As it is, I felt I learned enough -- barely -- in 7 units of Civ Pro I and II. It's fine to merge them and water it down into one required class, but there has to be a second class for people interested in litigation.

I don't see anything in the changes preventing students from taking Intro to IP as a 1L. I hope that's correct. It's an invaluable jump on that field.

3/31/2009 10:41 AM  
Blogger Bekki said...

So, I usually don't post in the comments, but I felt this one deserved a nod.

1) Toney, congrats for getting the flaming that was previously directed at me. The way I see it, the more rioting your post incites, the more correct it's likely to be.

2) I can only emphasize, strongly emphasize, that we're not all in law school to litigate. In fact, after my stint working in the foreign service for a semester, I'm realizing how very many job possibilities besides litigator there are. Furthermore, even if I do end up spending my career working for a law firm, I'm not likely to be working on matters that involve either Con Law or Civ Pro.

3) Which really boils down to the fact that for someone taking a non-litigation or non-traditional route, having that extra elective 1L year, as well as the chance to skip Civ Pro II, can make a huge difference.

4) For those of us in scenario 3, the changes really don't matter. An extra unit of Civ Pro - not that big a deal. I'd rather have that than an extra unit of contract or torts. And the Con Law will not be a required course the first year - you can still take Intro to IP if that suits your fancy. Furthermore, this Con Law is a 4 unit course - which is actually better for us "freelancers" than the 5 unit "Basic Con Law".

5) No, you do not need Armen's Bekki translation service for this post. I mean exactly what I said.

3/31/2009 11:18 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Those law students who would feel comfortable representing themselves as "lawyers" without any background in the Constitution, or in Federal jurisdiction are . . . well . . . yeah.

This is about an education.

3/31/2009 11:21 AM  
Blogger Toney said...


No one ever ever ever said anything about eliminating con law. Are you reading this right?

3/31/2009 11:23 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

If you satisfy your con law requirement by taking, say, First Amendment Law (which is currently a possibility) then as far as I'm concerned, you haven't taken con law. If the new requirements are any indication, the Boalt decision-makers seem to agree.

The first amendment is a big deal, but the rest of the constitution is kind of a bigger deal.

3/31/2009 11:26 AM  
Blogger Matt said...


Nobody said anything about not letting 1Ls take IP, either. But from your post, a lot of people seem to have drawn that conclusion.

(There seems to be a correlation between people who don't like the idea of encouraging Con Law in the first year and people who don't write clearly enough to convey a point without everyone reading it getting confused. I'm just saying, is all...)

3/31/2009 11:27 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

For what it's worth, I'd support requiring Con Law Basic and First Amendment.

And just so we all don't get confused, not both in the first year.

3/31/2009 11:28 AM  
Blogger Toney said...

In fact, con law seems like it might be the least useful course for a summer job. Which is probably why they aren't making it mandatory.

If you get confused by that, then maybe you shouldn't be clerking...

3/31/2009 11:29 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

I support the proposition that people who lack basic reading comprehension skills shouldn't be clerking. I could also get behind the proposition that people who write in sentence fragments shouldn't be clerking, either. Since I still haven't decided whether I'd like to try to clerk, I'm happy that I don't seem to fit into either category.

3/31/2009 11:39 AM  
Blogger Toney said...


I see what you're saying. I guess I'm comfortable enough with the jurisdiction learned while studying for the bar, and the con law gleaned through the exposure it gets in most other classes (to allow 1st Amendment to satisfy the requirement) to allow law grads to rush tantivy into the legal field.

So long as con law isn't required the first year, I don't have a problem with the changes. It's silly to think it would be any more beneficial then than later. And as at least one commenter has noted, the 1L electives are a huge draw to Boalt. So long as the ability to take much more useful courses 1L year is preserved, then I'm fine with the changes. They just don't seem all that necessary (though what would a lowly patent prosecutor know?!?!)

3/31/2009 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seem to recall Con Law (Basic or Structural) being a prerequisite to taking the First Amendment. It was when I was a student. Has that changed? If not, then the comments about First Amendment satisfying the con law requirement are off base.

4/01/2009 4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can take First Amendment without any prerequisites, and it does satisfy the Con Law requirement (or does as of this semester, at least).

4/15/2009 6:22 PM  

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