I teach four courses at New York Law School. Rather than handing out paper copies of syllabi and other materials in class, I use a Google Site for each course. Everything, from required reading, activities, and reading questions, are available online. To visit the website for each course, please click on the respective link below.
Information Privacy Law
Information Privacy Law is a 3-credit course that offers students an intense study of a rapidly changing and important area of the law. The class is structured around a single salient query: How, if at all, can we protect as private information already known to some? Answering that question requires us to address issues of new technologies, social norms, gaps in current law, and vanguard questions of internet life. We cover privacy theory, privacy torts, how the Fourth Amendment adapts to new technologies, consumer privacy, healthcare and confidentiality, and international privacy law, as well as “hot” topics like nonconsensual pornography, privacy by design, artificial intelligence, and robots. We spend a considerable amount of time discussing implicit bias, discrimination, and other social justice issues associated with privacy and new technologies. Students work in teams to design privacy litigation strategies, complete practical assignments on notice and choice, and learn how to represent victims of online harassment.
Torts is a 4-credit course that taught in the fall of a law student’s first year. We cover intentional torts, negligence, and some products liability. Each class ends with a review question like those students might see on the Bar Exam. We discuss the answer, and how to answer the question, in class the next day. We also finish every unit with an in-class, practice-based activity–litigating an injury claim, conducting witness interviews, trying to settle a dispute–as well as activities based on real-life scenarios, like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.
My Torts syllabi focus as much on lawyering and legal skills as on the substantive law of torts. We start with reading comprehension and identification of facts. Through a short (three-week) unit on intentional torts, students learn to tease out elements of a tort and are then able to distinguish irrelevant from relevant facts. We then proceed to negligence, where we continue to develop skills, particularly with respect to framing the legal question and holdings. We discuss how questions and holdings can be merely descriptive, but are also essential advocacy tools. We practice again and again how to frame questions in a given case differently given one’s role as counsel and how to marshal and manipulate (distinguishing or broadening) holdings from previous cases to support a position. I also use a diverse array of teaching techniques including digital technologies, interactive group exercises, relating old concepts to modern controversies through in-class case studies, and negotiation and dispute resolution exercises. After every class, I give students torts questions from previous Bar exams. This has two goals: (1) substantive review of material just covered and (2) reducing Bar exam anxiety by preparing students early.
Intellectual Property at New York Law School is a survey course that exposes students to the major intellectual property regimes — trade secrets, patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Students should take this class as a stepping stone to further enrichment in intellectual property or other law and technology courses. Many students not interested in pursuing a career in IP should also take this course: increasingly, business decisions involve considerations of IP and every business, no matter how small, has at least some IP to protect. Therefore, all lawyers should have some background knowledge in intellectual property.
My intellectual property syllabi emphasize advanced lawyering skills as well as substance. We spend roughly 1/3 of the semester on each of the three major IP regimes with a one week introduction to trade secrets. After each unit, all of which include guest lectures from distinguished practitioners, we work together on in-class exercises that allow students to practice what they have learned and also teaches them about IP litigation, negotiation, dispute resolution, and transactions. On most class days, students are given practice problems to review the material discussed and to prepare them for the exam.
Internet Law is a 3-credit course that asks a simple, but profound question: How have digital and network technologies created new questions and problems for the law? I separate this course into three distinct, yet related doctrinal areas–free speech, intellectual property (copyright and trademarks), and privacy–and challenge to students to see the effect of technology on these areas of law. Practical activities that simulate issues students may face in their professional careers are integrated with classroom work.
TEACHING METHODS AND INNOVATIONS
I use several strategies to make my teaching more effective. This is not an exhaustive list. Nor are all of these tactics unique to me. Plus, an approach to teaching is more than just a series of innovations. These tools help make an already engaging and interactive classroom more fun and substantive at the same time.
I design a Google Site for each class I teach. The websites include interactive syllabi, links to all outside readings, questions for students to consider as they read, goals for classes, all class policies, visualizations of the weights of class assignments, and an online discussion tool that allows students to reach out with questions at any time.
Traditional casebooks are costly and are updated every 5 years, on average. Where possible, I use e-casebooks. They are cheaper and are updated more regularly, which is especially helpful in fast changing disciplines. Semaphore Press publishes several e-casebooks that offer students outstanding substance without the cost.
Practice-Based Activities and Daily Multiple Choice Problems
Every unit in each class I teach includes at least 1 practice-based activity, whether a mock litigation, a negotiation, an issue spotter, or some other practical simulation that allows students to apply what they have learned to real situations and learn lawyering skills. I also assign multiple choice questions after each class, which we review together at the beginning of next class, so students can practice the material and begin to familiarize themselves with the format of the Bar exam.
I am proud of some of the excellent feedback I have received from students at the end of each semester. But any constructive criticism from students at the end of the semester cannot benefit those students. Therefore, I ask students to complete more informal mid-semester evaluations so I can adjust my teaching style, if necessary. I take student feedback seriously, and I respond to almost all the constructive comments. When I disagree with their suggestion, I explain why. Students appreciate that I am both listening to them and reasoning through pedagogical decisions.
General Audience Writing
I supplement students’ legal writing education by asking them to write short (600-800 word) general audience essays on topics related to classroom discussion. This assignment forces students to simultaneously distill complex concepts into language anyone can understand and maintain a professional writing style.