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Fall 2023 Course

Conflict of Laws

Prerequisites: Open to upper-level JD students. For LLM students: this upper-level course assumes that students have prior knowledge of the basic principles of American law of contracts, torts, property, and procedure (including personal jurisdiction law), as well as knowledge of common law reasoning and argument. LLM students may take this course only if they concurrently take a course at Harvard Law School in contracts, torts, or property law in the fall semester of 2023.

Exam Type: No Exam. The grade will be based on papers and moot court oral exercises.

This course examines how courts choose which law should be applied to transactions, relationships, or occurrences having contacts with more than one state in the United States, or with a state in the United States and a foreign nation. The course will also touch on adjudicatory jurisdiction, recognition of foreign judgments, and tribal sovereignty of American Indian nations. We will address the various approaches adopted by states and/or advocated by scholars, focusing on cases involving torts, contracts, property, family law, procedure, and tribal sovereignty. Roughly one-half of the class days will be devoted to a series of moot court exercises. Students will present oral arguments and act as judges, both asking questions and meeting in conference to decide the cases. Students will be required to write short, two-page single-spaced memoranda on five or six of the problem cases over the course of the semester, as well as  two 5-page single-spaced proposed opinions on two of the moot court cases.