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220.3 sec. 1 - Bureaucratic Justice (Spring 2014)

Instructor: Karen Tani  (view instructor's teaching evaluations | profile)
Instructor: Ed Barnes  
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Units: 2
Meeting Time: W 6:25-8:15
Meeting Location: 141

Course Start: January 08, 2014
Class Number (formerly Course Control Number) (Non-1Ls): 49571

In the twenty-first-century United States, much of the work of lawyers involves administrative agencies and other bureaucracies. Corporate clients must interact regularly with the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and other state and federal regulatory bodies. Similarly, low-income clients often encounter law in the form of administrative agencies. For them, bureaucrats, not judges, make crucial decisions about housing assistance, food stamps, disability benefits, and other forms of government support. In fact, for a wide range of legal claims “ ranging from employment discrimination to consumer fraud “ an administrative agency is often the first and final stop.
In the course of interpreting statutes, crafting regulations, and making individual claims determinations, bureaucracies demonstrate predictable behaviors. Lawyers who become enmeshed in bureaucracies should expect to encounter, for example, delay, political infighting, employment practices that protect incompetence, and myriad forms of “bureaucratic disentitlement.” Other common behaviors include “passing the buck” to some other institution or branch of government and constructing an edifice of “deniability” to shield bureaucratic actors from criticism. Effective lawyers must anticipate these problems and understand their sources.
By focusing on the lawyer’s day-to-day encounters with administrative agencies, this course aims to prepare students for the situations described above, as well as to round out a legal education that often privileges the work of courts. The goal is not to explore agencies’ role in our constitutional system (a topic amply covered by Administrative Law), but rather to give students greater exposure to the layers of law-making that they will encounter in the world of practice (statutes, regulations, sub-regulatory directives), to help them learn how to navigate administrative bureaucracies, and to encourage reflection about what it means to pursue justice in these settings. To that end, students will learn not only about how to act as advocates within bureaucracies, but how to advocate for their clients outside of them, through lobbying, community outreach, social scientific research, and media campaigns.
This course will be of interest to students of public benefits and social justice, to students who plan to work in or with government agencies, and to students interested in affecting the behavior of bureaucracies. This course will also appeal to students seeking to understand how to address complex legal problems in creative but concrete ways.

Exam Notes: TH
Course Category: Social Justice and Public Interest
This course is cross-listed in the following categories:
Law and Society
Legal Theory and History
Public Law and Policy
Simulation Courses

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Required Books are in blue

  • Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Service, 30th Anniversary Expanded
    Michael Lipsky
    Edition: 2010
    Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
    ISBN: 9780871545442
    Copyright Date: To Be Determined
    Price: $18.95
    Price Source: user provided

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