Spring 2022 Course Schedule

American Legal Institutions (LLM Only) (LAW-580-001)
William Berenson

Meets: 01:00 PM - 02:50 PM (W) - Warren - Room N101

Enrolled: 22 / Limit: 30

Administrator Access


There are no notices at this time.


All of you are already lawyers. Most of you will be returning to your own countries where you will represent clients doing business in the United States. A small minority of you will stay in the United States, take a U.S. bar exam, and establish careers here. For those of you returning home, this course intends to furnish you with a working knowledge of the vocabulary and fundamental concepts of U.S. practice so that you may: (1) orient your clients doing business in the United States to the problems and challenges they may face in interacting with the U.S. legal system; and (2) communicate effectively with counterpart counsel representing your clients in the United States. For those of you staying to take a U.S. bar exam, this course will provide you with a foundation in select areas of law tested in most U.S. jurisdictions: professional responsibility (ethics); constitutional law; federal courts and jurisdiction; civil procedure; torts; contracts; business organizations; and statutory interpretation. Whatever your long-term career objectives, this course will in the short term help you hone your basic analytical skills and make it easier for you to get through your other courses having a high U.S. domestic law content here at the law school. In a broader sense, however, my objective is to impart in you additional skills, knowledge, and sensitivities which will boost your ability to serve your clients capably and confidently, whomever and wherever they may be.

Textbooks and Other Materials

The textbook information on this page was provided by the instructor. Students should use this information when considering purchases from the AU Campus Store or other vendors. Students may check to determine if books are currently available for purchase online.

The primary text for this course is Abernathy, Law in the United States: Cases and Materials, 2nd Edition, published in 2016 by the International Law Institute in cooperation with Georgetown University Law Center (hereinafter, "Abernathy"). It is far from ideal, but it is the best text currently available for treating the wide range of topics covered in this course. Additional required reading for the course is in American Legal Institutions, Supplementary Reading Materials – Fall 2020, (“Supplement”),1 and on the class MYWCL Webpage (“MYWCL”), as assigned below.

You may want to purchase for reference and background reading K. Hegland, Introduction to the Study and Practice of Law In a Nutshell, 7th Ed.(West, St. Paul 2017). We will not discuss this book directly in class; however, it should be of great use to those who are not familiar with common law analysis techniques and it is a good simplification and synthesis of those techniques for those who are. The entire book, and particularly the pages recommended herein, will assist you greatly in reading the other materials assigned in this class and in your other classes. If you want to economize, you may be able to buy the 3rd Edition (2000) or the 4th (2003) used. There are few differences between the three.

The weekly readings “marked “Required” under the heading in Abernathy, the Supplement, and the Class MYWCL Webpage are mandatory. Those marked “Of interest” are for your further edification. Many of the “Of interest” materials are on the MYWCL page, the Supplement, or otherwise available on line, at the reserve desk at the library, or in the general library collection.

We will not discuss every case in the required readings and you will not be responsible on the Final Exam for cases and other materials listed as required that we do not discuss in class. Nonetheless, reading what is required will be necessary for most of you to get the most out of my lectures and class discussion. And by the way, you do NOT have to memorize case names.

You should purchase a good legal dictionary for use in this course and your other studies at the Law School. I suggest Blacks. Many of you will want to purchase bilingual English/your native language) legal dictionaries as well.

Finally, you should consult MYWCL/ALI regularly for announcements, modifications to the Syllabus, and podcasts of make-up classes. Also, I may post on the page additional materials of interest. for your reference.

First Class Readings


Video, “Staying Healthy,” on class MYWCL page. Supplement or MYWCL: Bates v. Arizona, Syllabus; Goldfarb v. Virginia, Syllabus; Supreme Court of New Hampshire v. Piper; ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Preamble and Scope, Rules 8.3 -8.5, 5.1 -5.3, Preamble, 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 4.1, 1.13, 1.18, 3.3; Summary Sheet -- “Pillars of Rules of Professional Conduct”

Of interest:

Hegland, Introduction to the Study and Practice of Law in a Nutshell (hereinafter "Hegland"), any edition (1-7): Section 20 to Rule XI of the Rules Governing the District of Colombia Bar, at MYWCL; 2020 Bar Admissions Requirements on class MYWCL page; Statistics on Malpractice and Discipline, class MYWCL page.


Use your MyAU username and password to access the syllabus in the following format(s):