Exam Type: No Exam
This seminar invites students to explore the theory and practice of interpretation in public and private law. We will begin with an introduction to the field of law and language—considering both legal and linguistic scholarship of relevance to the practice of legal interpretation. And we will extend this scholarship to an in-depth, comparative analysis of the law’s approach to interpretation in the fields of constitutional law, statutes, and contracts.
In each of these fields students will first be presented with legal scholarship on the premises of interpretation in that field. We will then explore tools of interpretation that may be used to resolve the interpretive problems that arise in each field. Among other tools, students will be introduced to methods used by linguists (including corpus linguistic analysis). Each unit will close with a practice problem allowing students to apply the theory and tools they have learned in analyzing a hypothetical problem of the sort that might arise in the field. Student performance will be assessed on the basis of class participation and, more significantly, short papers submitted in response to the practice problems.
Note: This seminar will meet on the following dates: 9/6, 9/7, 9/27, 9/28, 10/18, 10/19, 10/25, 10/26, 11/8, 11/9, 11/29, 11/30.