ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Monday, April 1, 2013

ABA Adopts Radical, Contracts-Based Curricular Reform

ABA LogoHaving recieved comments from numerous quarters, including from this blog's own Meredith Miller, the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, has announced that it is recommending that all areas of law now be understood as subsidiaries of contracts law. In addition to recommending that all law schools require their students to take six hours of contracts in the first year, the Task Force is recommending that second year students take required courses in Sales, Leases, Licensing and International Sales.  Those courses, including related live-client courses, simulations, moot court and trial advocacy competitions, and practica, will constitute much of the second year curriculum. 

According to the Task Force sources who asked not to be named because the Task Force's report has yet to be released officially, those elements of the reform proposal were uncontroversial.  "Everyone recognizes that all lawyers need a firm grounding in contracts and contract-related areas.  The only question disagreement on the Task Force was over whether six credits in the first year was enough.  Some members wanted 24."

Somewhat more controversial is the Task Force's recommendation that other areas of law be subsumed within the law of contracts.  According to our source, the Task Force is recommending that both Constitutional Law and Criminal Law be re-conceptualized as constituting either actual contracts or social contracts best understood with the traditional doctrinal tools of contracts law.  The Task Force concedes that this innovation was in part driven by a desire to reduce students' text book costs.  "All they have to buy is one, maybe two books by Randy Barnett, and they are covered," according to our source.  In addition, the Task Force recommends that International law courses will now be divided into Private International Contracts and Public International Contracts (Treaties). 

When asked if the Task Force anticipated difficulties persuading faculty members from other doctrinal areas to re-conceive those areas in terms of contracts law, our source told us that the Task Force considered the question and could not conceive of a doctrinal area that would not be better understood through contracts doctrine. 



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