News Archive

Diverse Group of New Courses for Spring Semester

By Andrew Cohen

Berkeley Law’s curriculum will expand even further this spring with a diverse mix of new courses. Topics include Chinese law and legal institutions, renewable energy policy, mortgage lending, tobacco litigation, and employee benefits.

“These courses respond to student and faculty research interests in areas of the law that are experiencing rapid growth or change,” said Susan Whitman, Berkeley Law’s assistant dean of academic planning and curriculum coordination. “These cutting-edge classes enrich our curriculum and give our students a competitive edge in tackling emerging real-world legal issues once they graduate.”

Among the course highlights is Renewable Energy and Other Cleaner Fuels: Energy Policy to Save the Planet, the Country, and the Economy. The course will be co-taught by former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Steve Weissman, who directs the energy program for Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment.

When Granholm arrived on campus in the fall as a distinguished practitioner of law and public policy, she and Weissman discussed their teaching goals. “It quickly became clear that the things we wanted to do could work together very well,” Weissman said. “I wanted to offer students a clear understanding about national, state, and local policies to promote renewable energy, and Jennifer wanted to provide a hands-on experience crafting programs and policies to promote renewable energy in specific states and regions.”

As governor, Granholm developed a strategy that attracted 18 electric vehicle battery manufacturers and suppliers to Michigan. Those companies committed to invest over $5 billion and create over 60,000 jobs in Michigan—identified in August 2011 by the Gallup Organization and Newsweek as the nation’s top state for job creation.

“The class provides an extraordinary opportunity for those interested in our energy future to work with and learn from one of the nation’s thought leaders on energy and cleantech policy,” Weissman said.

Granholm and Weissman will help interdisciplinary teams develop a proposed national policy that offers incentives for specific state and regional solutions. Those recommendations will be conveyed to national energy policy leaders to inform the federal legislative debate. The course will explore the emerging field of alternative energy supplies. In doing so, it will review laws and policies that promote or impede such sources, and identify ways to empower laypeople to produce their own renewable power.

Innovative Offerings

Daniel Mulhern, a leadership coach and distinguished practitioner of business and law at UC Berkeley, will teach Holistic Leadership: Preparing Leaders to Be Fluent in Business, Politics, and Law. His course will examine the similarities and differences between government agencies and for-profit businesses and how they respond to a confluence of critical, shared issues.

Alex Wang, who worked in China for the Natural Resources Defense Council, will teach two new courses: Comparative Environmental Enforcement and Compliance, and Chinese Law and Legal Institutions. The former is a seminar for evaluating environmental enforcement and compliance and examining regulatory approaches and experiments across countries. Wang’s Chinese law course will provide an overview of Chinese legal topics including commercial and corporate law, environmental law, constitutional law and human rights, criminal law and procedure, and China’s engagement in public international law.

Mortgage Lending and Homeownership is a hot-button course that will cover federal and state housing policies pertaining to homeownership, discrimination and disparities in loan access, predatory lending, mortgage lending laws, and legal redress for lending abuses.

Ken Taymor and Eric Talley, who lead the law school’s Berkeley Center for Business, Law and the Economy, are teaming up to teach Mergers & Acquisitions. Their course will center on corporation law and securities regulations at the heart of mergers and acquisitions, the business incentives behind those deals, and M&A documentation and negotiation.

“A substantial portion of the coursework will include reviewing, analyzing, and drafting deal documents,” Taymor said. “This course differs from the traditional ‘Law of’ Mergers and Acquisitions course by its focus on the business drivers and objectives of the M&A transaction, and the substantial use of document review and drafting exercises.”

Lecturer and leading trial lawyer Elizabeth Cabraser ’78 will teach Tobacco Litigation: Legal Theories and Procedural Approaches. She will describe how tobacco litigation has advanced virtually every legal theory under U.S. law and explore the impact of constitutional issues such as free speech, federal preemption, and due process limits on punitive damages.

Lies and the Law, taught by David Sklansky and Sanford Kadish, will delve into a range of topics such as the criminality of lying, prosecutions for perjury and false statements, and lies by police in undercover investigations and interrogations.

Other new offerings include Skills of Exceptional Lawyers: Social Intelligence and the Human Dimension; Colorblindness: The Mind and the Law; Employee Benefits Law; and Mediation in Juvenile Dependency Proceedings.