By Andrew Cohen
Berkeley Law’s faculty act as a collective periscope, scanning the legal environment to locate emerging developments that merit attention. During the fall semester, students will benefit from that proactive process through several courses being offered for the first time.
“We’re lucky that with this faculty, it’s not difficult to find people who can take students right to the cutting edge of current legal challenges, which tend to be national and global challenges, too,” says Professor Jonathan D. Glater, associate dean for the J.D. curriculum and teaching. “Artificial intelligence, speech mediated by massive tech businesses, speech on campuses and in politics — all these and more besides are addressed in some of the exciting classes on offer this year. I am frankly jealous of our students because I want to take some of these classes.”
Here are a half-dozen examples of new classes that tackle timely topics and demonstrate the faculty’s innovative pedagogy.
IP and Human Creativity in the AI Age, taught by Professor Robert Merges and Berkeley Center for Law & Technology Senior Fellow Yuan Hao (who previously taught Patent Law at China’s prestigious Tsinghua University), aims to break new ground in examining how intellectual property should adapt to the artificial intelligence-fueled shift in creation to ensure that “machine creativity” is used to promote human creativity, rather than to replace it.
Topics include the patentability of AI technologies, the challenges they present to various patent and copyright doctrines, the defense of fair use and transformative use in the context of generative AI, IP’s role in addressing AI ethics, the theoretical framework of justifying IP in the AI age, and the interplay of IP and antitrust in this age.
Technology and Human Rights, taught by Human Rights Center Co-Executive Director Betsy Popken, prepares future attorneys to spot and solve human rights challenges in their future legal work. The seminar introduces students to a burgeoning area of law that reflects an increased focus by businesses on human rights issues.
Students will learn directly from human rights practitioners about some of the most pressing challenges businesses currently face, receiving assignments crafted to mimic the work of practitioners in this field. The course addresses substantive tech and human rights issues such as freedom of expression and right to privacy, as well as practical outputs including human rights policies, impact assessments, and responsible AI innovation.
How to Think and Write like a Judge, taught by retired California Court of Appeal associate justice Daniel Kolkey, will teach students how to analyze a case as an appellate judge would. It presents different methodologies judges have used to decide cases, how they organize and present their analysis in an opinion, and how lawyers should present their arguments in a brief given how judges typically approach their cases.
Students will review and analyze opinions of revered U.S. jurists, discuss their methodologies, and assess their analytical and literary techniques. The course will explore rhetorical devices that judges use in their opinions, which can also be used in briefs, helping students also learn a range of legal subjects and some legal history.
Organizing for Reproductive Rights and Justice, taught by Professor Kathryn Abrams, will survey the legal and political strategies being mobilized to protect reproductive rights — and secure the broader agenda of reproductive justice — following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last year.
The courses will focus on how coalitions are being constructed and how those not previously politically active are being engaged to craft and support ballot issues, support state judicial candidates, address restrictive state legislation, and address funding, disparities in reproductive health and maternal/infant outcomes, and birthing choices. Classes include presentations by organizers, legal professionals, and scholars involved in these issues in several state contexts.
M&A on the Ground: Hostiles, Proxy Fights and the M&A Ecosystem, taught by Gladstone Place Partners CEO Steven Lipin and MacKenzie Partners CEO Daniel Burch, will give students a real-world perspective on hostile takeovers, activist proxy fights, the marketing of M&A deal once concocted by bankers, and the rise of special purpose acquisition companies as an M&A alternative to initial public offerings.
Students will examine case studies of deals and contested transactions and hear from guest speakers in the M&A ecosystem, including media, bankers, arbitrageurs, and shareholder activists. Preparing students to work on M&A transactions, the course will explain how corporate law interacts with transaction work, the value deal advisors provide and their role in a transaction, and the storytelling aspect of deal-making.
Advanced Topics in Delaware Corporate Law, taught by Delaware Court of Chancery Judge Lori Will and Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon, will explore current hot topics in Delaware corporate law. Relying mainly on judicial decisions and academic or practitioner commentary, the course focuses on how corporate law is made in Delaware and the policy reasons underlying that law.
Students will probe why Delaware holds a dominant position in corporate law, and explore aspects of that law. Those aspects include judicial standards of review, common law fiduciary duties of managers and directors, change of control transactions, conflict transactions, poison pills, and defensive mechanisms — all in the context of certain decisions by Delaware’s Court of Chancery and Supreme Court.