Introduction to the U.S. Legal System
Fall 2000
Professor Joel R. Reidenberg
Email: <>
Home page: <>

Course Description
Required Reading
Office Hours
Class Schedule/Readings
Aug. 14/18 Aug. 24 Aug. 31 Sept. 7 Sept. 14
Sept. 21 Sept. 28 Oct. 5 Oct. 12 Oct. 19
Oct. 26 Nov. 2 Nov. 9 Nov. 16 Nov. 30

Course Description 

This course provides an introduction to the legal system of the United States and will explore a series of representative topics in American law. In particular, the course will examine the basic structure of the US consitutional system, the powers of each branch of government, basic rights and liberties of citizens, jurisdiction, the litigation process and the substantive law fields of contract and tort law. The course is designed as a survey course for foreign law students and will not provide an in-depth treatment of the topics.


This course will have a letter-graded, open-book final examination covering all the materials assigned for the course. Class participation will be graded PASS/FAIL. A "FAIL" in class participation will result in a failing grade for the entire course. Attendance and advance class preparation are mandatory. More than three unexcused absences will result in an automatic failure for the course.

Required Reading 

Charles F. Abernathy, LAW IN THE UNITED STATES: CASES AND MATERIALS (1996 edition)

Internet Class Discussion Group at <>

Office Hours 

My office is Room 334 (tel: 212-636-6843). I am usually available in my office before  class for conferences as well as other times by appointment . In addition, I will hold "virtual office hours" and can be reached via e-mail, 24 hours/day at <

Class Schedule/Readings

Aug. 14/18 Aug. 24 Aug. 31 Sept. 7 Sept. 14
Sept. 21 Sept. 28 Oct. 5 Oct. 12 Oct. 19
Oct. 26 Nov. 2 Nov. 9 Nov. 16 Nov. 30
Revisions to these assignments may be posted during the course of the semester.
Be sure to check for each class.

Orientation Week: Aug. 14-18

US Legal Education                 pp. 117-132; 11-18
Sources of US Law                 pp. 3-52
Common Law System             pp. 53-87
The Judiciary                          pp. 93-103; 110-116

Aug. 24

Judicial Powers                       pp. 139-159
Executive Power                     pp. 195-208

Aug. 31

Executive Power                      pp. 218-224; 233-235; 239-247; 259-263; 270

Sept. 7

Legislative Powers                  pp. 315-340

Sept. 14


European Takeovers
Dominique Carreau
William Hughes Mulligan Visiting Professor of
      International Legal Studies (Fordham)
Professor of Law and Director of
     International Economic Law Studies (Univ. de Paris-Sorbonne)

Sept. 21

Legislative Powers                                    pp. 340-372

Sept. 28:    Internet Discussion Group Class

Oct. 5

Constitutional Rights and Liberties        pp. 453-472; 479-484

Oct. 12

Constitutional Rights and Liberties    pp. 506-511; 518-521; 532-536; 574-578
Practice Exam Review

Oct. 19

Civil Procedure                pp. 641-648

Oct. 26

Contracts pp.  699-730

Nov. 2

Torts                            pp. 730-754

Nov. 9


Nov. 16

Nov. 30

Exam Discussion


Page last updated Sept. 21, 2000.