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206 sec. 1 - Introduction to Legal Scholarship I (Fall 2012)

Instructor: Kathryn Abrams  (view instructor's teaching evaluations | profile)
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Units: 2
Meeting Time: Tu 3:35-5:25
Meeting Location: 10

Course Start: August 28, 2012
Course Control Number (Non-1Ls): 49472

This year-long seminar will provide students who have an interest in legal academic careers with an introduction to legal scholarship as a genre and as a practice. All students who potentially aspire to become law professors should, ideally enroll in at least the first semester of this course during their 2L years.

Students who were unable to take this course as 2Ls are welcome to enroll in their 3L year. JSP students, and other Berkeley graduate students interested in legal academia are also welcome, and there is likely to be room for students in these categories.

During the first semester, the seminar will aim to build a critical appreciation of legal scholarship through reading, discussion and analysis of published works. Students will learn about the attributes and merits of full-length articles, symposium pieces, exchanges, review essays and more. They will also study distinct methodological schools or sub-genres of legal scholarship, including doctrinal or policy analysis, various forms of critical legal theory and empirical scholarship and interdisciplinary approaches such as law and economics, sociolegal studies or various humanistic approaches to the analysis of law. At the same time as students are discussing the work of others in class, they will be beginning work on their own papers, identifying a topic, undertaking the initial research, and narrowing and refining the focus of their inquiry until they are able to frame a specific thesis and argument. By the end of the first semester, each student will be expected to formulate the basic argument of their paper and share it with their classmates.

During the second semester, students will write the papers that they have researched and outlined in the first part of the course. Toward the end of the second semester, each student will be matched with a faculty mentor who writes in the area the student is interested in, so that the faculty mentor can advise the student's ongoing preparations for a legal academic career.

Students are strongly encouraged to enroll in both semesters of the year-long course. Students who enroll for both semesters will be graded primarily based on the paper they complete in the second semester. Alternative grading options are available for students who are only able to enroll for one of the two semesters.

Interested students with questions should e-mail professors Abrams ( and Merges ( This course is intended to be the core of Berkeley Law's new program for preparing law professors. All students who are interested in becoming law professors should consider enrolling in this course.

Exam Notes: P+
This is a credit only course
Course Category: General Courses

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