Introductory Classes

Professor Irene Ayers
Professor Irene Ayers

Introduction to US Law and Introduction to US Legal Practice

Introduction to US Law is an intensive course that reviews the fundamentals of the US legal system, including an overview of the US Constitution, federalism, the structure and function of courts, sources of legal authority, and common-law methodology.

Introduction to US Legal Practice teaches practical skills needed in the US legal environment including locating cases, statutes and other legal source materials; citing legal authority correctly; and checking the validity of case citations. In addition, these introductory classes help prepare students for study at a US law school by developing their skills in briefing cases, course outlining, and taking law school examinations.

All LLM students who received their first degree in law outside the United States must take Introduction to US Law and Introduction to US Legal Practice. Students beginning the LLM program Fall 2023 will take the Intro. classes beginning Monday, August 12 through Friday, August 23, 2024.

On the last day of the class there is an essay exam on the line of cases covered during the second week of Intro. Students have found studying for and writing the exam for Intro. to be important preparation for the fall semester.

Please note that credits earned for these classes do not count toward the 24 credits needed to earn the LLM degree. Students who need the LLM degree to qualify to take the New York Bar exam can use credits earned in Introduction to US Law and in Introduction to US Legal Practice toward fulfilling NY Bar eligibility requirements.

Introduction to US Law Sections

During the second week of Introduction to US Law, several days are devoted to exploring an evolving line of cases; the topic of these cases differs between sections as indicated below.  You will receive a registration link via email asking you to indicate your section preference. We will honor your preference to the extent possible, while maintaining classes of equal size. If you do not indicate a preference, we will place you into one of the Intro sections. Once you are assigned to a section of Introduction to US Law, you will be automatically enrolled in the summer course Introduction to US Legal Practice.

Just or Unjust? Punitive Damages and the American Judicial System
Section One: Professor Alice Estill Burke; Section Two: Professor Susan Chung

These sections will read cases examining how the U.S. Constitution, common law, and statutes might guide or limit punitive damages. The cases selected shine a spotlight on the roles of juries, federal and state court judges, and federal and state legislatures.

Just or Unjust?  Reproduction and the Constitutional Right of Privacy 
Section Three: Professor Rachael Liebert

This section will read cases about the expansion and contraction of reproductive rights in the United States. Focusing on cases from the U.S. Supreme Court and the highest courts of various states, we will consider how the judiciary's understanding of fundamental rights has changed over time, and we will explore critical questions about the relationships between the federal government and the states and between individuals and their governments.

Just or Unjust?  Private Arbitration and the American Consumer
Section Four: Professor Gerry Lebovits

Arbitration has been praised for being generally much faster, cheaper, and more efficient than litigation.  At the same time, arbitration has been criticized for protecting the contract drafter, usually a corporation, who typically chooses and compensates the arbitrators. This line of cases looks at how the Federal Arbitration Act has shaped the American judicial process.

Early Reading for Introduction to US Law and Syllabus 

Each section of Intro. to US Law reads a line of cases, as described above.  These cases are lengthy and complex; the faculty strongly recommends that you read the cases assigned for your section before the course starts. The faculty also recommends that you read in advance the article: “How to Read a Legal Opinion” (PDF: 851.53 KB).

To get a sense of the reading and assignments for Intro., review the syllabus from Summer 2023.  There will be minor changes to the syllabus for 2024, and an updated version will be posted in early August. Note that there is a reading assignment to complete before the first Introduction to US Law class meeting.  This assigned reading will be posted in advance on Brightspace, a web-based learning management system that enables NYU faculty to provide access to course content and communicate with class members. The textbook for the class is A Lawyer Writes:  A Practical Guide to Legal Analysis (4th ed.). It is available as an e-book, as well as on Kindle and in paperback.  You will need a copy of the U.S. Constitution.

Recommended Reading to Prepare for the Academic Year