Law School for Everyone

Taught By Multiple Professors
Law School for Everyone
Course Trailer
Litigation and Legal Practice: Litigation and the American Legal System
1: Litigation and Legal Practice: Litigation and the American Legal System

In this lecture, use a 1963 Supreme Court case, Gideon v. Wainwright, as a window into the relationship between litigation and the American legal system. You'll explore why we adopted this particular system, how it works, and why we teach law in America the way we do....

32 min
Litigation and Legal Practice: Thinking like a Lawyer
2: Litigation and Legal Practice: Thinking like a Lawyer

To think like a lawyer, you have to approach legal doctrine actively and critically. Here, Professor Shadel teaches you how to read cases with an eye for particular concepts every good lawyer must keep in mind, including the role of precedent, inductive and deductive reasoning skills, and the use of analogies....

30 min
Litigation and Legal Practice: Representing Your Client
3: Litigation and Legal Practice: Representing Your Client

All lawyers have responsibilities to their clients and to the integrity of the justice system. But what are the bounds of a lawyer's responsibility in representing a client? What's confidential and what's not? For answers to these and other questions, consider challenges arising in the State of Florida v. George Zimmerman....

31 min
Litigation and Legal Practice: Trial Strategy behind the Scenes
4: Litigation and Legal Practice: Trial Strategy behind the Scenes

Continuing with the case of George Zimmerman, explore the intricate nature of trial strategy that takes place away from the jury's eyes. Learn how lawyers operate before a trial, and how a jury is selected. Also, examine how media coverage impacts what happens inside (and outside) the courtroom....

30 min
Litigation and Legal Practice: Opening Statements: The Moment of Primacy
5: Litigation and Legal Practice: Opening Statements: The Moment of Primacy

A powerful opening statement requires many things: credibility, persuasion, logic. Using the George Zimmerman and O.J. Simpson trials as case studies, go inside the (sometimes tricky) art of crafting palpable opening statements that grab the jury's attention and leave it eager to hear the testimony to come....

31 min
Litigation and Legal Practice: Direct Examination: Questioning Your Witnesses
6: Litigation and Legal Practice: Direct Examination: Questioning Your Witnesses

Direct examination has been popularized by countless TV crime dramas. But how does it work in a real courtroom? In this lecture, learn how lawyers figure out whom to put on the witness stand, what questions they should ask, and how to prepare witnesses for their day in court....

29 min
Litigation and Legal Practice: The Art of the Objection
7: Litigation and Legal Practice: The Art of the Objection

During a trial, any lapse in a lawyer's attention could be extremely costly. Enter the task of voicing objections. Here, look at some of the most common types of evidentiary issues that might call for objections and learn why lawyers get only one shot at raising one....

29 min
Litigation and Legal Practice: Problematic Evidence
8: Litigation and Legal Practice: Problematic Evidence

Why are innocent people sometimes convicted of crimes they didn't commit? Often, it's because a jury is persuaded by problematic evidence. How do lawyers navigate these troubled legal waters? Investigate three of the most important kinds of flawed evidence: false confessions, mistaken eyewitness identification, and flawed "expert" evidence....

30 min
Litigation and Legal Practice: Controlling Cross-Examination
9: Litigation and Legal Practice: Controlling Cross-Examination

Explore how lawyers cross-examine a witness without losing control, without eliciting unexpected answers, and without offending the jury. Along the way, you'll learn tips for effective cross-examination, study the cross-examination skills of renowned civil and criminal defense attorney Roy Black, and learn about the process of conducting impeachments....

30 min
Litigation and Legal Practice: Closing Arguments: Driving Your Theory Home
10: Litigation and Legal Practice: Closing Arguments: Driving Your Theory Home

Closing arguments are a chance for lawyers to connect all the dots for the jury. In this lecture, study one powerful example of a successful closing argument: Johnnie Cochran's on behalf of O.J. Simpson. Then, consider some of the things a lawyer shouldn't do when closing a case....

29 min
Litigation and Legal Practice: Understanding the Appellate Process
11: Litigation and Legal Practice: Understanding the Appellate Process

When people criticize the United States as an overly litigious society, they're often referring to its system of appellate review. How, exactly, do appellate courts operate? How do lawyers file appellate briefs or make oral arguments for an appeal? Professor Shadel helps you make sense of the appellate process....

30 min
Litigation and Legal Practice: Arguing before the Supreme Court
12: Litigation and Legal Practice: Arguing before the Supreme Court

A case argued before the Supreme Court of the United States is one of great significance. First, consider the history and evolution of the Supreme Court over the centuries. Then, using Citizens United v. FEC, gain insights into how political and ideological dynamics within the Court affect the cases brought before it....

34 min
Criminal Law and Procedure: Who Defines Crimes, and How?
13: Criminal Law and Procedure: Who Defines Crimes, and How?

To understand how criminal law works, you first have to understand what a crime is. What are the purposes of criminal law? Why is textualism so important to distinguishing the bygone era of common-law crimes from those of the 21st century? Who are the key players involved in defining a crime?...

36 min
Criminal Law and Procedure: Crime and the Guilty Mind
14: Criminal Law and Procedure: Crime and the Guilty Mind

In this lecture, explore the fundamental requirement of mens rea, or the guilty mind. Topics here include: how criminal intent is traditionally defined, the relationship between malice and motive, what happens when a defendant claims to lack a guilty mind, and the concept of criminal liability without fault (known as strict liability)....

31 min
Criminal Law and Procedure: Homicide and Moral Culpability
15: Criminal Law and Procedure: Homicide and Moral Culpability

Homicides, according to Professor Hoffmann, are unique among crimes. In this lecture, examine the pyramid of homicidal crimes, including involuntary manslaughter, second-degree murder, and first-degree murder. Also, consider several real-world examples that highlight the issue of culpability in homicide, including the case of Dr. Jack Kevorkian's assisted suicides....

32 min
Criminal Law and Procedure: The Law of Self-Defense
16: Criminal Law and Procedure: The Law of Self-Defense

Turn to self-defense and get a better understanding of how criminal law tries to balance between the rights of the threatened and those who are threats. Along the way, consider issues including "the retreat doctrine," the "battered spouse syndrome," "stand your ground" laws, and the use of deadly force by the police....

31 min
Criminal Law and Procedure: Federal Crimes and Federal Power
17: Criminal Law and Procedure: Federal Crimes and Federal Power

The U.S. federal government might be the most powerful government in the world-but it's power to prohibit and punish crimes is relatively constrained. In this intriguing lecture, Professor Hoffmann reveals the important distinctions in scope, meaning, and effect between state criminal law and federal criminal law in the United States.

34 min
Criminal Law and Procedure: Cruel and Unusual Punishments
18: Criminal Law and Procedure: Cruel and Unusual Punishments

Pore over the "cruel and unusual punishments" clause of the Eighth Amendment in search of why the Supreme Court has had so much trouble applying this provision to real-world criminal cases. By the end of this lecture, you'll realize why the Eighth Amendment is considered by some legal experts to be a constitutional enigma....

34 min
Criminal Law and Procedure: Due Process and the Right to Counsel
19: Criminal Law and Procedure: Due Process and the Right to Counsel

Powell v. Alabama, better known as the Scottsboro case, is one of the most important in the history of American criminal procedure law. Where did the Supreme Court find the legal authority to force states to provide all criminal defendants, regardless of race or economic station, with fundamental rights?...

33 min
Criminal Law and Procedure: Government Searches and Privacy Rights
20: Criminal Law and Procedure: Government Searches and Privacy Rights

In the first of two lectures on the Fourth Amendment, go inside the fascinating history behind the topic of government searches and privacy rights. You'll consider the scope of the Fourth Amendment, learn what defines "search" and "seizure," and ponder the role of modern technology in affecting how the Fourth Amendment works....

33 min
Criminal Law and Procedure: The Shrinking Warrant Requirement
21: Criminal Law and Procedure: The Shrinking Warrant Requirement

Continue looking at the Fourth Amendment. How do search warrants work? Can police enter a home without a warrant? Topics include the exclusionary rule, which provides that evidence seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment be excluded from criminal prosecutions, and the vague standard of "probable cause."...

33 min
Criminal Law and Procedure: The Fifth Amendment Privilege
22: Criminal Law and Procedure: The Fifth Amendment Privilege

According to the Fifth Amendment, "no person...shall be compelled to be a witness against himself." Examine the history of this core aspect of the Bill of Rights. Learn how the amendment works in and out of court, how the privilege has become subject to compromises over time, and what "pleading the fifth" actually requires....

34 min
Criminal Law and Procedure: Miranda and Police Interrogations
23: Criminal Law and Procedure: Miranda and Police Interrogations

"You have the right to remain silent." These are perhaps the most famous words in American criminal justice. In this lecture, investigate the historical and legal background of the Supreme Court's 1966 Miranda decision. Professor Hoffmann builds his lecture around two key issues at the heart of this still-controversial decision....

33 min
Criminal Law and Procedure: Plea Bargains, Jury Trials, and Justice
24: Criminal Law and Procedure: Plea Bargains, Jury Trials, and Justice

Ninety-percent of all criminal cases, surprisingly, don't end in a trial but in a plea bargain. In this lecture, consider both plea bargains and criminal trials and how they complement one another. How-and why-did plea bargains come to dominate American justice? How does the jury system work?...

36 min
Civil Procedure: Procedural Rights and Why They Matter
25: Civil Procedure: Procedural Rights and Why They Matter

What makes civil procedure different from all other courses law students encounter in their first year of school? Using a hypothetical lawsuit and two Supreme Court cases, explore the broad set of issues and questions any system of litigation must address, including the procedures needed to clear a person's name....

32 min
Civil Procedure: Subject Matter Jurisdiction
26: Civil Procedure: Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Professor Smith discusses jurisdiction: the power of the courts to hear a case and to render a judgment. As you'll discover, there are really two different types of jurisdiction, one of which is subject matter jurisdiction, which refers to the court's authority to hear cases concerning a particular subject matter....

32 min
Civil Procedure: Jurisdiction over the Defendant
27: Civil Procedure: Jurisdiction over the Defendant

Just because a court has jurisdiction over a case doesn't mean it has jurisdiction over the defendant. Enter personal jurisdiction. Learn why this doctrine hasn't been constant over time, the importance of the (eventually replaced) Pennoyer ruling, and when an out-of-state defendant should be subject to personal jurisdiction....

32 min
Civil Procedure: A Modern Approach to Personal Jurisdiction
28: Civil Procedure: A Modern Approach to Personal Jurisdiction

Continue your look at personal jurisdiction by examining how the approach evolved into its modern standard, as well as the limits this approach places on the power of a plaintiff to haul a defendant into court far from the defendant's home. Central to this: 1945's International Shoe Co. v. Washington....

33 min
Civil Procedure: The Role of Pleadings
29: Civil Procedure: The Role of Pleadings

Pleading is the process by which parties inform one another, and the court, of their allegations, claims, and defenses. Go inside the first step in the pre-trial process for a close look at the rules that govern pleading. As you'll learn, the rules governing pleading can make-or break-a suit....

32 min
Civil Procedure: Understanding Complex Litigation
30: Civil Procedure: Understanding Complex Litigation

Lawsuits today often involve multiple plaintiffs suing multiple defendants on multiple claims. How does this kind of complex litigation work? First, consider the rules governing "joinder"-when claims and parties can be joined in one suit. Then, turn to a familiar (and special) multi-party suit: the class action....

31 min
Civil Procedure: The Use and Abuse of Discovery
31: Civil Procedure: The Use and Abuse of Discovery

No, the discovery process isn't glamorous. But it's important in that it allows parties access to information to support their claims and defenses. How do we define the "scope of discovery," as well as terms like "substantial need" and "work product"? How can the process be used to wear down plaintiffs?...

31 min
Civil Procedure: Deciding a Case before the Trial Ends
32: Civil Procedure: Deciding a Case before the Trial Ends

In this lecture, consider the mechanisms of a motion for summary judgment, by which a judge can resolve a suit with something less than a complete trial. Central to this lecture are two important cases that highlight the nuances of this type of motion: Celotex v. Catrett and Denman v. Spain....

31 min
Civil Procedure: The Right to a Civil Jury Trial
33: Civil Procedure: The Right to a Civil Jury Trial

Juries undoubtedly play an important role in civil procedure, even in cases that don't end up having a trial before a jury. Here, consider the virtues and drawbacks of having juries decide issues in civil suits, then explore the scope of this right as guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment....

32 min
Civil Procedure: Determining What Law Applies
34: Civil Procedure: Determining What Law Applies

How does one tell whether a particular rule of state law is procedural or, instead, substantive? Which law applies-and when? Here, a famous case between two taxicab transfer companies offers an extreme and fascinating illustration of the procedural problems that can arise between federal and state courts....

33 min
Civil Procedure: Relitigation and Preclusion
35: Civil Procedure: Relitigation and Preclusion

The subject of this lecture isn't about getting a case right-it's about getting a case over with. Consider the rules that prevent parties from relitigating matters that courts have already decided. What's the difference between prior litigation and subsequent litigation? Several important cases offer illuminating insights....

32 min
Civil Procedure: Appeals and How They Are Judged
36: Civil Procedure: Appeals and How They Are Judged

Trial courts, intermediate courts of appeals, the Supreme Court-different courts play different roles in our legal system. First, consider when a party is allowed to appeal a decision by a trial court. Then, consider the standards of review that appellate courts apply when reviewing trial court decisions....

33 min
Torts: The Calamitous World of Tort Law
37: Torts: The Calamitous World of Tort Law

Start your whirlwind tour of torts with an exam question Professor Cheng gives to his own students: one that will introduce you to the history, complexity-and oddities-of this aspect of law. What behaviors does tort law expect from us? What harms can we be responsible for?...

32 min
Torts: Legal Duty to Others
38: Torts: Legal Duty to Others

While we're morally obligated to help others, we're not necessarily legally obligated to help, regardless of what religious and ethical authorities may advise. Welcome to the concept of affirmative duty. Here, learn why this rule exists, examine legislative efforts to change it, and consider some well-established exceptions to the rule....

29 min
Torts: Reasonable Care and the Reasonable Person
39: Torts: Reasonable Care and the Reasonable Person

In this lecture, investigate the concepts of reasonable care and the concept the legal system uses to determine it: the reasonable person. You'll consider the meaning of reasonable care, debates over the proper definition of "fault," the relationship between reasonable care and cost-benefit analysis, and more....

29 min
Torts: Rules versus Standards of Care
40: Torts: Rules versus Standards of Care

Lawyers define rules as the alternative to flexible, case-specific standards. Rules, as you'll discover in this lecture, have their advantages and disadvantages over standards-but they all take power and discretion away from the jury. Professor Cheng uses an example that hits close to home for many of us: speed limits....

29 min
Torts: The Complexities of Factual Causation
41: Torts: The Complexities of Factual Causation

Of all the doctrines in tort law, factual causation appears to be the most scientific and value-neutral. The truth, however, may surprise you. Learn why determinations about causation aren't simple, but do matter-a lot. Also, consider whether the causation question is more philosophical than scientific....

32 min
Torts: Legal Causation and Foreseeability
42: Torts: Legal Causation and Foreseeability

Cases involving legal causation and the foreseeability test are the favorites of many law professors. Using one of the most famous cases in the torts canon, Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad, discover why legal causation is so intricately linked to policy, our sense of justice, and moral responsibility....

31 min
Torts: Liability for the Acts of Others
43: Torts: Liability for the Acts of Others

First, take a closer look at vicarious liability, a tort doctrine that states an employer is strictly liable for torts committed by employees during the scope of their employment. Then, consider the related tort doctrine of joint and several liability, which deals with when multiple parties contribute to a tort....

31 min
Torts: When Tort Plaintiffs Share the Blame
44: Torts: When Tort Plaintiffs Share the Blame

The focus of this lecture is on negligence or other culpable conduct on the part of the plaintiff. What does tort law say about what happens when a plaintiff is at fault? Just how much of a two-way street is an issue like safety? For some answers, look to seat belts....

30 min
Torts: Animals, Blasting, and Strict Liability
45: Torts: Animals, Blasting, and Strict Liability

Explore traditional strict liability through the lens of two common kinds of claims that don't require negligence: damage caused by animals and damage caused by ultra-hazardous blasts and explosions. Along the way, examine whether or not strict liability really is all that different from conventional negligence....

33 min
Torts: The Rise of Products Liability
46: Torts: The Rise of Products Liability

Tort law isn't fixed in stone but instead evolves to meet a changing society. Case in point: the development of modern products liability law. In the first of two lectures on the subject, walk through some elegant cases in torts to determine why products liability has promoted litigation on a massive scale....

32 min
Torts: Products Liability Today
47: Torts: Products Liability Today

Here, Professor Cheng dives into modern products liability doctrine. What kinds of product defects qualify for this treatment? What kinds of products and manufacturers qualify? What's the effect of government regulations in certain cases? How are these massive cases, sometimes involving thousands of plaintiffs, resolved?...

33 min
Torts: Punitive Damages and Their Limits
48: Torts: Punitive Damages and Their Limits

What are punitive damages? Why do we have them? How can the legal system rein in out-of-control juries? To get answers to these three questions, look to a case that's long been the symbol of a legal system run amok: Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants, or the case of the spilled hot coffee....

34 min
Edward K. Cheng

In a sense, tort law is the law of everyday life, and so many cases seem strikingly familiar, or at least relatable.

ALMA MATER

Harvard Law School

INSTITUTION

Vanderbilt Law School

About Edward K. Cheng

Edward K. Cheng is a Professor of Law at Vanderbilt Law School, where he focuses on scientific and expert evidence and the interaction of law and statistics.

Professor Cheng holds a J.D. (cum laude) from Harvard Law School, where he was the Articles, Book Reviews & Commentaries Chair of the Harvard Law Review; an M.A. in statistics from Columbia University; an M.Sc. (with distinction) in information systems from the London School of Economics, where he was a Fulbright Scholar; and a B.S.E. (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in electrical engineering from Princeton University. He clerked for Judge Stephen F. Williams of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and previously taught at Northwestern University and Brooklyn Law School.

Professor Cheng is a co-author of the five-volume treatise Modern Scientific Evidence: The Law and Science of Expert Testimony. His research has appeared publications including the Yale Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, and Columbia Law Review.

A six-time winner of the Hall-Hartman Outstanding Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching at Vanderbilt, Professor Cheng is a former chair of the Section on Evidence of the Association of American Law Schools and is the host of Excited Utterance, a podcast on scholarship in evidence and proof.

Also By This Professor

Molly Bishop Shadel

If you can think like a lawyer, you have gained valuable insight into how things get done in this country.

ALMA MATER

Columbia University

INSTITUTION

University of Virginia School of Law

About Molly Bishop Shadel

Molly Bishop Shadel is a Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law, where she teaches negotiations and advocacy classes and is a senior fellow at the Center for National Security Law. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with an A.B. in English and American Literature and Language. Professor Shadel earned her J.D. from Columbia University.

Professor Shadel clerked for the Honorable Eugene H. Nickerson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Before joining the faculty of the University of Virginia, Professor Shadel worked as an attorney at the law firm of Covington & Burling, and then at the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review. Professor Shadel joined the faculty at the University of Virginia School of Law in 2005.

Professor Shadel is the author of two books: Finding Your Voice in Law School: Mastering Classroom Cold Calls, Job Interviews, and Other Verbal Challenges and Tongue-Tied America: Reviving the Art of Verbal Persuasion. Professor Shadel is also a planning faculty member of the Leadership in Academic Matters program, a biannual, semester-long leadership course for University of Virginia professors and administrators.

Also By This Professor

Peter J. Smith

Whether you realize it or not, we think about the substantive law all the time in our daily lives. Every time we get behind the wheel of a car, or go outside to shovel snow from the sidewalk in front of our house, or decide whether to look at a text message while we're driving, we're thinking about the obligations we have to avoid causing injuries to others.

ALMA MATER

Harvard Law School

INSTITUTION

The George Washington University Law School

About Peter J. Smith

Peter J. Smith is the Arthur Selwyn Miller Research Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. He received his B.A. (magna cum laude) from Yale University and his J.D. (magna cum laude) from Harvard Law School, where he received the Sears Prize for highest academic performance.

Before joining the faculty at GW Law, Professor Smith was an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he represented the government in the U.S. Courts of Appeals. At the Department of Justice, he defended the constitutionality of a number of federal statutes, including the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act (cases ultimately resolved by the Supreme Court). Before he worked at the Department of Justice, Professor Smith clerked for Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Professor Smith has twice received the Distinguished Faculty Service Award for outstanding teaching at GW Law. He has published dozens of scholarly articles and is the co-author of a popular casebook on constitutional law, Constitutional Law: A Contemporary Approach. His research focuses on constitutional law, constitutional interpretation, and civil procedure.

Also By This Professor

Joseph L. Hoffmann

Criminal law has become the sole province of the government acting on behalf of society as a whole, rather than on behalf of the crime victims.

ALMA MATER

University of Washington School of Law

INSTITUTION

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

About Joseph L. Hoffmann

Joseph L. Hoffmann is the Harry Pratter Professor of Law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, where he has taught since 1986. He received a J.D. (cum laude) from the University of Washington School of Law. After law school, Professor Hoffmann clerked for the Honorable Phyllis A. Kravitch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and for then-associate justice William H. Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court. Professor Hoffmann is a nationally recognized scholar in the fields of criminal law, criminal procedure, habeas corpus, and the death penalty. He was a co-principal investigator for the Capital Jury Project, the largest empirical project ever to study jury decision making in capital cases, and has been a consultant in criminal and death penalty cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. At Indiana University, Professor Hoffmann has been recognized with the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, the Leon H. Wallace Teaching Award, the Trustees’ Teaching Award, the Teaching Excellence Recognition Award, and the Gavel Award. Professor Hoffmann is the co-author of two of the leading casebooks used by law students across the United States: Defining Crimes and Comprehensive Criminal Procedure. In 2007, Professor Hoffmann appeared in the PBS series The Supreme Court.

Also By This Professor