Over the past few years, I have developed and taught a course in basic American legal theory, or jurisprudence, covering legal realism, analytical jurisprudence, law and economics, critical legal theory, and, occasionally, other topics. The course asks, repeatedly, what we are doing when do law. A lot of what I do when I teach the course is to suggest to students just how much of what they assume about the practice of law is just that, unexamined assumption. Legal change, and even just excellent normal-science lawyering, occurs only when one understands the social phenomenon of law a little more deeply than as a set of static rules to be mastered.
In 2016, I began to offer this course online to our students. The in-person version of the course comprised twice-a-week seminar meetings. For the online version, I recorded a podcast series discussing the readings and asking some questions. The students would listen to the week’s episodes in advance of an online, 100-minute meeting. Like all courses, this one may not be for everyone, but I’ve enjoyed putting it together and have been pleased with the resulting feedback.
I’m making the syllabus and podcast available to anyone who might be interested. So here is Legal Theory 101. Feel free to make use of the syllabus and materials in any way you like. If you’re a teacher who winds up using some or all of the audio, it’d make me happy to hear from you. I’m always delighted to engage and talk about these matters!