Law 798:  Legal Issues in Higher Education

Higher education composes a significant part of the American institutional scene with an enormous economic impact. There are about 4,000 public and non-profit degree-granting institutions: doctoral and research universities, four-year colleges, two-year associate degree-granting institutions, and specialty four-year colleges – apart from the less traditional proprietary (for-profit) sector. These institutions enroll over 19.7 million students. In 2019, over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt was outstanding.

The world of higher education shares certain characteristics that distinguish these institutions from commercial enterprises and even other philanthropic and non-profit institutions, especially in the institutions’ relationship to faculty and students. They are subject to state and a complex web of federal regulations as well as, for public institutions, constitutional and administrative law controls. In other words, there is a lot of legal work to do. The Chronicle of Higher Education has recently reported on the demand for knowledgeable lawyers. (Feb. 21, 2020). A Journal of College and University Law, sponsored by an association of college and university attorneys, is devoted to the special legal problems of these institutions – and may well be a venue open to the publication of student work of sufficient quality.

Prerequisites: None

Evaluation: This is a research seminar in which students will identify, research, and write about a salient legal problem particular to higher education. The paper will propose and defend a solution for it. The topic is of the student’s choice; a list of possible subjects will be circulated in due course. The paper should be between thirty and forty double spaced pages inclusive of footnotes – about the length of a solid law review student note.

The grade in the course will be based primarily on the quality of the paper, its thoroughness – this includes both non-legal as well as legal sources – analytical sophistication, and persuasiveness; and secondarily on the quality of the student’s presentation of and defense of the paper in the class. It is hoped that students will register their topics early and commence research in earnest during the summer.

This course is eligible to satisfy the Upper-Level writing requirement.

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