SMNR: Property & Governance

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
WED 3:30 - 5:20 pm TNH 3.129

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location


This course will dig into some of the hot-button land-use controversies that mark our time. Designed as an advanced course in Property, it has also been designed to be taken during the 1L year in order to deepen and enrich understandings, through an extended, real-world emphasis, of topics that may or may not get introduced in the jam-packed, heavily-doctrinal introductory course. The course will examine aspects of property law and policy in contexts that have powerful and immediate consequences, ones where we can see courts and other institutions, including local ones, doing what is often, and unavoidably, highly controversial work. Our focus will be practical, on-the-ground conflicts in which law and politics tend to mix; where community and/or individual welfare is strongly perceived to be at stake; and where institutional effort across differing levels of government doesn't always or easily cohere. These are situations that lawyers often shape and that litigation sometimes drives. As we explore them, we will attend not only to emergent property doctrine and policy and to the governance issues we will find, but, in notable instances, to the lawyer's role. Subjects for this year's course are likely to include: solar and/or wind power controversies; the mortgage foreclosure crisis in the courts; tax-increment financing and inter-regional rivalries; recent developments in takings law (very recent!); and disaster management, with special reference to post-Katrina developments and to the Gulf oil spill. We will use an eclectic mix of materials that will include case law, case studies, popular accounts, film, and guest-participants who have been involved or are currently involved in shaping our topics as lawyers, interested parties, or political decision-makers themselves. This is a writing course. Students will write a supervised research paper in lieu of an exam, on a topic selected by the student with the instructor's permission or on a topic recommended by the instructor. Papers written for this seminar may satisfy the upper-level writing requirement. Papers may develop into published law review Notes, as has happened in prior years, or into a publishable article. Papers may be group-based projects involving two or more students, so long as participants write individual contributions on a common theme approved by the instructor. If a student has already satisfied the writing requirement, he or she may write two shorter papers, with the permission of the instructor. There is no prerequisite for this seminar. It will meet together with the 1L course of the same name, but the 1L group and the upper-level group will be graded independently of each other.