This course is designed to deepen understandings of the ways that law intersects with policy, with politics, and with issues of governance through the exploration of some of the hot-button property topics of our time and place. Because of the substantial relationship between property and place, we will derive some of our examples from issues that are blazing nearby (in one case, literally), using Texas as our living laboratory, but by no means our exclusive one. This year's course will, therefore, include a unit on the law and policy of wildfire management; a unit on the public finance issue that has caused local businesses to lock horns with Amazon and other internet retailers; and a unit on public beach access that is pending in the Texas Supreme Court and in federal court. For the past two years, class members have selected one of our units of study; that is likely to happen again this year. Our focus will be on practical, on-the-ground conflicts in which community and/or individual welfare is at stake. Several will focus on the role of lawyers in shaping these conflicts and in forging new law.
We will use an eclectic mix of materials that will include standard legal sources plus popular accounts, film, and guest-participants who are lawyers, interested parties, or political decision-makers.
Upper-level students will write a research paper which may, at the student's option, qualify for the writing requirement. If that requirement has already been satisfied, the student may write two shorter papers instead. Students writing the long paper may write with one or more others, with the instructor's permission. All topics and joint-paper methodologies must be approved by the instructor. Every year, papers written for this seminar have morphed into published law review notes. Topics will be culled for that potential, if students so wish.
This class will meet together with the 1L course of the same name. The 1L group and the upper-level group will be graded separately.