UW 2031 W
upper-level course in the law and society minor
Equality & the Law: Introduction to legal research and writing
This course offers an introduction to how lawyers and legal scholars research and write about specific disputes that arise in the context of complex social issues. It is one of the required courses for the new minor in law and society, and satisfies a WID requirement.
Legal writing, like all forms of scholarly writing, is best understood in context and in practice. In this course, we have the opportunity to explore an ongoing challenge to our society in general and the legal system in particular: what is the promise of equality, and how does government relate to it. We will examine the revolution brought about by the civil rights movement, how the law is different as a result, and contemporary issues related to law and equality – including race relations and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the disabled, and others who continue to advance major challenges to the system’s ability to realize legal and civil equality. By researching and exploring these concepts in specialized forms of writing, students will learn about the nuances of argument in the interdisciplinary field of law and the requirements of legal research and writing.
Law as a Force for Social Change
This course uses the theme of law and its role in progressive social movements to introduce students to university-level research and writing. Understanding that law is an important means by which we structure social relations consistent with shared values, this course will examine historical and contemporary social movements that have used the language of rights and turned to legal systems for solutions. We will explore how advocates for social change—in the streets, in courtrooms, and in academic journals—have challenged and redefined bedrock concepts, invoking history and law in order to challenge the status quo. Throughout all of this, we consider how to evaluate arguments, what makes for effective advocacy, and the ways in which thoughtful analysis contributes to our understanding of contentious social issues.
Each student’s own research and reflection will form a major part of this course, particularly in the final weeks. This course culminates in a research paper on a subject for which advocates today employ law to advance their cause. Within those general parameters, the specific topic is selected by each student, so this course will reflect intense research on a variety of subjects. While finalizing the research paper, each student will contribute to the others’ understanding of their respective topics through participation in an in-class conference.