ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Trump: Contractual Landlord and Lessee at the Same Time

The lease for the Trump International Hotel, housed in Washington’s historic Old Post Office Pavilion owned by the federal General Services Administration (“GSA”), contains a clause forbidding elected officials from involvement. Trump, as president, essentially would be both landlord and tenant.

That may be an ethical problem as well as a federal contract law violation. Trump would oversee the GSA and appoint its administrator ― a conflict of interest with his hotel interest. GSA officials are looking into the matter.

Steven Schooner and Daniel Gordon, former government officials who specialize in federal contract law, have recommended that GSA “immediately end the hotel lease relationship, before Trump becomes president” to avoid ethics problems. Of course, if GSA terminates the lease contract, it risks litigation potentially with… Trump as a winner.

However, says Schooner, that’s a risk worth running. “In the end, it’s just a frigging lease.” It would also be a president heavily involved in private business affairs over which he would exercise significant power, real and perceived. But that may just be how our country is developing these days. We frown on similar behaviors in relation to other countries, but when it comes to our own, we are apparently either becoming accepting of unacceptable behaviors or powerless to do much about them.

November 30, 2016 in Celebrity Contracts, Commentary, Contract Profs, Government Contracting, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Sad and Regrettable Loss to Contract Law Academia

As our friends on the Faculty Lounge just announced, Dean Schwartz was just forced to step down as Dean of the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, School of Law. Why? After the recent presidential election, he sent an email to students offering counseling to those upset by the results. Similar initiatives were undertaken around the nation in places so politically and geographically different as the University of South Dakota and Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Apparently, what really cost Dean Schwartz his position was his personal opinion given in the email, namely that the services would be offered to students who “feel upset” following the “most upsetting, most painful, most disturbing election season of my lifetime.”

A colleague of Schwartz's, Robert Steinbuch, who previously tussled with Schwartz over diversity in admissions, explained [cite to FL]: “If you tell people every time they lose they’re entitled to counseling, you elevate the perceived level of wrong beyond what it is. Most assuredly, Democrats are disappointed a Republican won. I recall when the Democratic Party won the Presidency twice each of the previous two elections. I knew plenty of people who were disappointed at that time, but I didn’t know anybody that needed grief counseling. I think when we tell people that they need some form of grief counseling we are normalizing hysteria and suggesting there’s something immoral or wrong about our democratic process.”

How incredibly misunderstood and off point. First, there really is something wrong about our democratic process when repeatedly, the person winning most of the popular votes in an election does not become the president. Similarly, our two-party only, “winner takes it all” system is arguably not a sufficiently faceted system that can be considered to be a true representative, deliberative democracy. But I get that, the system should then be changed before the next election. That won’t happen, just like time after time, mass shooting episodes don’t cause a change to our gun laws or the mass murder situation in general. Such is our country, and so be it, apparently.

What is incredible to me in relation to the above is not Schwartz’ alleged normalization of “hysteria” (read: justified outrage), it is attempts to make this particular election appear normal. It simply was not. Everyone seems to agree on that, Democrats and Republicans alike. In fact, note that many Republicans were outraged as well – and for good reason. Should it be acceptable that we now have a President who, for example, is proud that he “grabs women by the pussy” and “just start[s] kissing them” whether or not they want it? Someone who claims that he is “smart” for not paying taxes for, apparently, many years to a country that he wants to lead, even though he could easily afford doing so? A person who, in spite of sound science proving otherwise until at least yesterday claimed that climate change is a “hoax made up by the Chinese”?

I would hope not. But as we see, apparently that is what we just have to put up with and not even opine about, even in legal academia, in the form of a sentence as innocuous as one that refers to simple, but honest, feelings shared by millions of other people as well.

Throughout history, censorship has never proved particularly effective. As a nation, if we seek to revert to such strategies, we are truly in trouble. Schwartz’ comments may well have upset Republican law students, but maybe that in and of itself would have had some value, especially in an academic setting where thoughts are valued for being just that; thoughts that just might help improve our nation.

On an up note: Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks to Michael Schwartz for being a such a courageous, thoughtful dean and legal scholar!

Greetings from Berlin.

November 24, 2016.

November 24, 2016 in Commentary, Contract Profs, Current Affairs, In the News, Labor Contracts, Law Schools | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Scholarship highlight: Climate change and the "Act of God" doctrine

Allow me to highlight my most recent article, An “Act of God”? Rethinking Contractual Force Majeure in an Era of Anthropogenic Climate Change.

Given anthropogenic climate change, what were previously considered to be inexplicable and unpredictable “acts of God” cannot reasonably be said to be so anymore. They are acts of man. “Extreme” weather events have become the new normal. Accordingly, the contractual force majeure defense, which largely rests on the notion that contractual parties may be exculpated from liability for failed or delayed performances if supervening unforeseen events that the party could not reasonably control or foresee have made a performance impracticable, is becoming outdated in the weather context. It makes little sense to allow contractual parties to escape contractual performance liability for events that are highly foreseeable given today’s knowledge about climate change. Parties can and should take reasonable steps to contractually assess and allocate the risks of severe weather events much more accurately than ever before. Further, they should be better prepared to take reasonable steps to alleviate the effects of severe weather on their contractual performances instead of seeking to avoid liability at the litigation stage.

Time has come for the judiciary to rethink the availability of the impracticability defense based on “extreme” weather for public policy purposes. Perhaps most importantly, by taking a hard look at the doctrine and modernizing it to reflect current on-the-ground reality, the judiciary may help instigate a broader awareness of the underlying pollution problem and need for action at many scales. Meanwhile, a more equitable risk-sharing framework that might become known as “comparative risk sharing” and which would resemble the notion of comparative negligence in torts could be introduced where parties have failed to reach a sufficiently detailed antecedent agreement on the issue. This is surprisingly often the case. Parties often use mere boilerplate phrases that do not reflect today’s highly volatile weather and appurtenant risks.

The law is never static. It must reflect real world phenomena. Climate change is a super-wicked problem that requires attention and legal solutions at many fronts to many problems, including contractual ones. The general public is often said to have lost faith in the judiciary. Given this perception, courts could regain some of that faith in the context of contracts law and force majeure caused by events for which no “God,” other supernatural power, or even nature can be blamed.

The article can be downloaded here.

I apologize that I have not been able to post very many blogs recently and that I will, for family and work reasons, also not be able to do so until January.  I trust it that my lovely assistant Ashley and my co-bloggers will keep you intrigues until then!

November 13, 2016 in About this Blog, Commentary, Contract Profs, Current Affairs, Legislation, Miscellaneous, Science, True Contracts | Permalink

Monday, October 10, 2016

JOTWELL - Contracts section

Exciting news!  JOTWELL (the Journal of Things We Like - Lots!) has a new Contracts section - and it has just gone live!  David Hoffman (Temple) and I are the Section editors.  Aditi Bagchi (Fordham), Dan Barnhizer (Michigan State),  Shawn Bayern (Florida State), Omri Ben-Shahar (Chicago), Martha Ertman (Maryland),  Robert Hillman (Cornell), Hila Keren (Southwestern), Florencia Marotta-Wurgler (NYU), Eboni Nelson (South Carolina), Robert Scott (Columbia), Tess Wilkinson-Ryan (Pennsylvania) and Eyal Zamir (Hebrew University) are contributing editors so expect to see articles from them over the next few months. 

The inaugural article is by Prof. Robert Hillman of Cornell and reviews Aaron Perzanowski & Chris Jay Hoofnagle's article, What We Buy When We Buy Now, (forthcoming U. Pa. L. Rev.).  The article raises interesting issues about ownership of digital "goods" and has already sparked interest in the popular press.

Welcome to the world of contracts JOTWELL!

 

 

October 10, 2016 in Commentary, Contract Profs, Miscellaneous, Recent Scholarship, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 5, 2016

More on Alleged Property Shark Amtrak

A few days ago, I posted a blog here on Amtrak raising the rent on backyard lots neighboring Amtrak's railroad lines in New York.  The rent in some cases went up by 100,000% (!) according to the website of Congressman Joseph Crowley

Professor Bruckner posed the relevant question of whether the now hotly contested leases are truly new leases or the renegotiation of existing ones.  I've been trying to find out, but not having seen the actual letter from Amtrak (yet), I've dug through news reports and website of legislators.  This is the upshot as best as I can find out right now: It looks like Amtrak is upping the price on _existing_ leases after having had very low prices for years.  See, e.g., these statements: "For decades, Amtrak has leased the property underneath the trusses to homeowners for a nominal fee which releases the agency from the burden of maintaining the premises. Residents were given a 30-day notice to accept an unconscionable annual rent increase – in some cases as much as 100,000 percent or tens of thousands of dollars" and "[i]n a letter addressed to homeowners, Amtrak argues that a review of the lease and the premises it covers, indicates the lease is substantially undervalued. For some, the rent will go up from $25 annually to over $26,000 annually. Failure to approve the new rental amount would result in the termination of the lease 30 days from the notice."

To me, that does indeed seem if not outright unconscionable, then certainly in violation of reasonable contractual expectations and the contractual terms what appears to be an already existing contract. 

As mentioned, Amtrak does have a good argument in its prices having been exceptionally low for decades, but perhaps market prices should be introduced over time as the lessees get replaced over time with the existing leases somehow being grandfathered in?  Granted, the turnover in the NYC real estate market may  not be high in the case of lucrative deals, but on the other hand, nobody lives in any home forever.  Underlying this story does seem to be the fact that Amtrak got upset not so much about the low rents per se, but the fact that some renters were making profits off them.

September 5, 2016 in Commentary, Contract Profs, Current Affairs, In the News, Miscellaneous, True Contracts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Do Law Profs Breach a Commercial Educational Agreement by Wearing T-Shirts with a Social Message?

A group of 1L students recently caused a stir-up at an anonymous law school by posting an anonymous complaint after their criminal law professor wore a "Black Lives Matter" t-shirt "on campus" (not "to class," apparently).   See the letter and the professor's great response here.  (For full disclosure, our colleagues on the TaxProf Blog also wrote about the story here Images).

Do students, because they enter into a contract with a private law school (or even a public one), have a legitimate reason to complain that their professors wear t-shirts with a socially and legally provocative or at least thought-provoking message?  The students wrote, "We do not spend three years of our lives and tens of thousands of dollars to be subjected to indoctrination or personal opinions of our professors."

Is this reasonable, in your opinion?  First, this comparison is not apt.  In fact, it is an extreme over-exaggeration that barely needs commenting on.  The students also comment that the "BLM" movement does not have anything to do with the law, which demonstrates the sad state of ignorance about the law and society in which many of our students - and perhaps especially those in conservative areas such as Orange County, California - find themselves (that's where the anonymous law school is thought to be located).  The movement is clearly about very little but the law and policy.  Second, students can and should expect to get a quality legal education when attending an ABA-accredited law school, but simply because they pay money for it does not entitle them to only hear about the version of the law that _they_ prefer.  In fact, as the professor so correctly notes in his response, the consumer theory should not apply to the content of one's legal education. In other words, students don't pay to only hear part of the message.  And as the professor said: students certainly don't pay us _not_ to have an opinion about the classes we teach (note that the Tshirt was worn in connection with a criminal procedure class).

What are your thoughts on this?  And why does the law school not publish its name?

July 11, 2016 in Commentary, Contract Profs, Current Affairs, In the News, Law Schools, True Contracts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Emory Announces Tina L. Stark Award for Excellence in Transactional Teaching

As a many-years user of Drafting Contracts: How and Why Lawyers Do What They Do, I was pleased to see the following press release from Emory University Law School.

Tina StarkEmory University Law School is proud to announce the creation of the Tina L. Stark Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Transactional Law and Skills. The award will be presented at Emory’s sixth biennial conference on the teaching of transactional law and skills in June of 2018.

Tina L. Stark, the founding director of Emory Law’s Center for Transactional Law and Practice and the author of the groundbreaking textbook “Drafting Contracts:  How and Why Lawyers Do What They Do,” has worked tirelessly to assure that law students have the opportunity to graduate as practice-ready transactional attorneys. Through her enthusiasm and perseverance, and with considerable grace and vision, she has nurtured the efforts of transactional law and skills educators the world over.

In honor of Tina’s considerable achievements, and in further recognition of her continued service as a beloved teacher and a cherished mentor, the Tina L. Stark Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Transactional Law and Skills will be awarded to an educator who is:

  • committed to training students to be practice-ready transactional attorneys Drafting Contracts by Stark
  • dedicated to engaging, inspiring, motivating and nurturing students
  • devoted to teaching with passion, using creative and innovative methods
  • known for achievement in curriculum or program development and pedagogy
  • pledged to advance the cause of transactional law and skills education

Nominations for the 2018 Tina L. Stark Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Transactional Law and Skills will be accepted beginning in June of 2017. Please see the Center for Transactional Law and Practice website for further details about the nomination and selection process in 2017 when the nomination window opens.

If you have any questions about the award, please contact Sue Payne at sue.payne@emory.edu.

H/T:  D.C. Toedt, On Contracts

July 4, 2016 in Books, Contract Profs, Law Schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Welcome to New Blogger, Administrative Judge Maravilla

I am proud to announce that Judge Maravilla of the Office of Dispute Resolution of the FAA will be joining our team of bloggers.  Judge Maravilla will introduce himself, but for now, here is a link to his biography.

 

Welcome!

July 3, 2016 in Contract Profs | Permalink

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How Bad Can a New Law Graduate’s Representation Be?

Pretty darned bad! Imagine this: A law student starts giving professional legal advice while still in law school. The advice is rendered to a 78-year-old Chinese-American with limited English skills and experience with the American legal system. The student renders the advice in person, over the phone, and in extensive e-mail exchanges. He even persuades the client to “assign” the lawsuit to the student so that the student would be “better able to control the suit and properly advise” the client. In doing so, the student promises to “minimize any legal costs to [the client] before [the student] getting [sic] his license by doing all the work he can carry on for said case.” The students subsequently graduates (from a California law school not accredited by the ABA, according to the website of the State Bar of California), passes the bar, and becomes the formally retained lawyer for the client.

The new graduate sues a party on behalf of his client. The graduate also names his own client on a lawsuit for an unrelated matter “only as a matter of legal procedure.” Additionally, the graduate sues his client’s defendants! The advice he renders is thought to be legally incorrect by a mediator. The client thus fires the graduate. The State Bar of California brings disciplinary proceedings against the new graduate for conflict of interest matters as well as the unauthorized practice of law. The graduate stipulates to the charges and is suspended for some time.  Trial is brought against the graduate by his former client for professional negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, unlawful business practice, breach of contract, and fraud. The client wins a judgment of $552,412.

You guessed it! The graduate does not pay. Rather, he appears in some subsequent judgment debtor proceedings, but disputes the court’s personal jurisdictions (that argument is waived once an appearance has been made, by the way). He submits briefs to the court misciting passages from outdated Matthew Bender Civil Procedure practice treaties. He refuses to produce tax returns to show his income. The court has to order him to do so. He goes bankrupt, and produces a “myriad” of inconsistent stories in the case. As the court said, “a few examples should suffice:

  • Yan testified he sold his membership in an LLC to two persons for $650,000, but could not remember their names.
  • Yan testified that his mother provided him checks, but could not remember: whether the checks numbered more than a hundred; when the most recent check was received; or when his mother last worked or her last job.
  • Yan testified that he was the sole support for his children, supported solely by his income, which for 2014 was “less than [$]10,000.” The support included rent, which included $8,400 in 2014, but he refused to provide the identity of the person to whom the rent was paid. Yan was asked the source of the money to pay his children's rent, and he said it was from his “income.” Asked if that was from legal fees, Yan said, “I don't know.”
  • Enough is enough.”

The monetary judgment against the graduate was affirmed. Years later, at least one other disciplinary matter has been brought against the graduate.

The question is: is this just one example of an unusually rotten apple? Or does this point to the assertion made by many that California really does not need a number of unaccredited law schools on top of the already large amount of ABA-accredited ones? (But note too that even the trial court record contains “no evidence of anything, only assertions as to what occurred, though [the plaintiff’s] assertions are supported by various exhibits” and not disputed by the defendant. There were, for example, “no reporter’s transcript, nor any real evidence – that is, sworn evidence….”

Comment below! The case Th is Charles Li v. Demas Yan, 2016 WL 1757283.

May 24, 2016 in Commentary, Contract Profs, Law Schools, True Contracts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

KCON Highlights VII: Intenational Contract Law; Public Policy Considerations

Southwestern-law-school-logoWe now reach the last of our series of posts highlighting the proceedings at the KCON XI: The Eleventh International Conference on Contracts, with videos covering the final concurrent sessions held on Saturday, February 27, 2016. This ending is a worthwhile moment point to note that KCON XII is set for next February at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. I hope we will get to see many of you in southern California next year! Details will certainly show up in this space.

International Contract Law

  • Moderator: Mark Burge, Texas A&M University
  • Pablo Lerner, Ramat Gan School of Law, Constructive Trusts in Israeli Land Contracts – Contract as Key
  • Dr. Lachmi Singh-Rodrigues, University of West of England, Avoidance of the Contract and the Seller’s Right to Cure Under the CISG
  • Qi Gao, Beihang University School of Law, Consumer Protection under Chinese Contract Law
  • Watch the panel video

Public Policy Considerations in Contract Law

  • Moderator: David A. Grenardo, St. Mary’s University School of Law
  • Wayne Barnes, Texas A&M University, Arrested Development: Rethinking the Age of Majority in the 21st Century
  • Mayanna Dellinger, University of South Dakota, Contracts to Kill Endangered Species: Public Policy Arguments
  • Joan MacLeod Heminway, The University of Tennessee College of Law, The LLC Operating Agreement and its Relation to Contract
  • Hao Jiang, Tulane University, Freedom of Contract Under State Supervision
  • Watch the panel video

March 16, 2016 in Conferences, Contract Profs, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

KCON Highlights VI: Neoliberalism; E-Commerce

Here, we continue our series of posts highlighting the proceedings at KCON XI, which are available courtesy of our friends at St. Mary's University School of Law. This set comes from the second concurrent sessions held on Saturday, February 27, 2016. You can view each video by clicking on the link following the applicable list of speakers.

Neoliberalism word cloudContract Law and Neoliberalism

  • Moderator: Dov Waisman, Southwestern Law School
  • Danielle Hart, Southwestern Law School, Contract Law & Ideology
  • Creola Johnson, The Ohio State Univesity Moritz College of Law, Contractual Duplicity: Creditors Force Consumers into Arbitration While Exploiting the Criminal Justice System to Arrests Consumers Who Cannot Pay
  • Hila Keren, Southwestern Law School, Scalia on Contracts: The Dissemination of Neoliberal Logic
  • Matthew Titolo, West Virginia, Neoliberalism’s Fine Print
  • Watch the panel video

Ecommerce globeE-Commerce

  • Moderator: Colin P. Marks, St. Mary’s University School of Law
  • Daniel Barnhizer, Michigan State University College of Law, Contracts and Automation: Exploring the Normativity of Codability
  • Stacy-Ann Elvy, New York Law School, The Internet of Things (IOT) and Bargaining Disparity
  • Max N. Helveston, DePaul University, Regulating the Digital Marketplace
  • Watch the panel video

March 15, 2016 in Conferences, Contract Profs, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 14, 2016

KCON Highlights V: Contract Theory; Remedies Beyond Expectation Damages

KCON GraphicVideo recordings of most of the proceedings at KCON XI are available courtesy of our friends at St. Mary's University School of Law, and we are pleased to highlight and share those with you here. This set comes from the first concurrent sessions held on Saturday, February 27, 2016. You can view each video by clicking on the link following the applicable list of speakers.

Contract TheoryTheoretical Perspectives on Contract Law

  • Moderator: Jennifer Martin, St. Thomas University
  • Shawn Bayern, Florida State University, The Failure of Law and Economics
  • Sidney DeLong, Seattle University, Jephthah’s Daughter and Morally -Efficient Breach
  • Orit Gan, Sapir College, Peres Academic Center, The Many Faces of Contractual Consent
  • Val D. Ricks, South Texas College of Law, Contract Doctrine as Contract Theory
  • Watch the panel video

Breach of contractRemedies: Beyond Expectation Damages

  • Moderator: Nancy Kim, California Western School of Law
  • Yehuda Adar, University of Haifa, Pre-Contractual Disgorgement
  • Moshe Gelbard, Netanya Academic College School of Law, Pre-Contractual Disgorgement
  • Roger Halson, University of Leeds, UK, Liquidated Damages and “Penalty” Clauses in the UK: A New Approach

Watch the panel video

March 14, 2016 in Conferences, Contract Profs, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

KCON Highlights IV: Peter Linzer Lifetime Achievement Award; Consumer Protection and the CFPB

Peter LinzerVideo recordings of most of the proceedings at KCON XI are available courtesy of our friends at St. Mary's University School of Law, and we are pleased to highlight and share those with you here. This set comes from the presentation on Friday, February 26, 2016, of the conference's Lifetime Achievement Award to Professor Peter Linzer of the University of Houston Law Center.  In keeping with the theme of honoring Professor Linzer, the presentation is paired with a panel that he moderated on Saturday, February 27, 2016 on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You can view each video by clicking on the link following the applicable description.

Lifetime Achievement Award Ceremony Honoring Peter Linzer (held at the Plaza Club)

Cfpb-logo-squareConsumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Consumer Contracts, and Arbitration

  • Moderator: Peter Linzer, University of Houston
  • Richard Frankel, Drexel University
  • Ramona Lampley, St. Mary’s University School of Law
  • Jean Sternlight, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Watch the panel video

March 13, 2016 in Conferences, Contract Profs, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

KCON Highlights III: Virtual Currencies & Emerging Payment Systems; Contract Drafting

Video recordings of most of the proceedings at KCON XI are available courtesy of our friends at St. Mary's University School of Law, and we are pleased to highlight and share those with you here. This set comes from the third concurrent sessions held on Friday, February 26, 2016. You can view each video by clicking on the link following the applicable list of speakers.

Bitcoin_logo1The Impact of Virtual Currencies and Emerging Payment Systems

  • Moderator: Daniel Barnhizer, Michigan State University College of Law
  • Mark Edwin Burge, Texas A&M University, Contract Law in Emerging Payment Systems
  • Catherine Christopher, Texas Tech University, Virtual Currency
  • Angela Walch, St. Mary’s University School of Law, Blockchains as Infrastructure
  • Watch the panel video

Contract DraftingContract Drafting

  • Moderator: Danielle Hart, Southwestern Law School
  • Nadelle Grossman, Marquette University, Transactional Contracts and Textbook Simulation Discussion
  • Russell Korobkin, UCLA School of Law, Bargaining with the CEO: The Case for “Negotiate First, Choose Second”
  • Jane Winn, University of Washington, Framework Contracts and the New Managerial Revolution
  • Watch the panel video

March 12, 2016 in Conferences, Contract Profs, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 11, 2016

KCON Highlights II: Teaching & Mentoring Innovations; Contract Law in the Administrative Context

KCON GraphicVideo recordings of most of the proceedings at KCON XI are available courtesy of our friends at St. Mary's University School of Law, and we are pleased to highlight and share those with you here. This set comes from the second concurrent sessions held on Friday, February 26, 2016. You can view each video by clicking on the link following the applicable list of speakers.

Innovations in Teaching and Mentoring

  • Moderator: Robert D. Brain, Loyola Law School Los Angeles
  • Keith A. Rowley, UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law
  • Frank G. Snyder, Texas A&M University
  • Ben Templin, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, The New Pedagogy: Here’s the ball. Let’s play catch
  • Watch the panel video

Contract Law in an Administrative and Regulatory Context

  • Moderator: James W. Fox Jr., Stetson University College of Law
  • Hazel Beh, University of Hawai’i, Insurance as the AntiContract
  • David Friedman, Willamette University College of Law, Refining Advertising Regulation
  • Peter Marchetti, Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Bankruptcy “Clawback” Provisions: Congress Needs to Amend Section 546
  • Chris French, Penn State Law, The Illusion of Insurance Contracts
  • Watch the panel video

March 11, 2016 in Conferences, Contract Profs, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

KCON Highlights I: Student-Centered Contracts Classroom; UCC Article 2 Remedies

KCON GraphicVideo recordings of most of the proceedings at KCON XI are available courtesy of our friends at St. Mary's University School of Law, and we are pleased to highlight and share those with you here. This set comes from the first concurrent sessions held on Friday, February 26, 2016. You can view each video by clicking on the link following the applicable list of speakers.

Professorial Professions: Creating a Student-centered Contracts Classroom

  • Moderator: Hazel Beh, University of Hawai’i
  • Charles Calleros, Arizona State University
  • Myanna Dellinger, University of South Dakota
  • Frank G. Snyder, Texas A&M University
  • Adrian J. Walters, Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Deborah Post, Touro Law Center, Politically Conscious Pedagogy
  • Watch the panel video

What You Thought You Knew About Remedies in Sales Transactions May Not Be True: Highlights in Article 2 Remedies and Contracting for Limitations

  • Moderator: Mark Burge, Texas A&M University
  • Sidney DeLong, Seattle University, The Notice of Breach Dilemma: Conflict and Cooperation in Eastern Airlines v. McDonnell Douglas
  • Nancy Kim, California Western School of Law, Teaching UCC Remedies from Concept to Clause
  • Colin Marks, St. Mary’s University School of Law, On-Line and As Is
  • Jennifer Martin, St. Thomas University, Opportunistic Resales and the UCC
  • Watch the panel video

March 10, 2016 in Conferences, Contract Profs, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

On Artificial Intelligence and Contract Law

SmartcontractsIan Kerr of the University of Ottawa's Centre for Law, Technology and society has an interesting post from last September on a topic of that has been of occasional discussion on this blog, and which I came across only recently.  In "The Arrival of Artificial Intelligence and 'The Death of Contract,'" Kerr outlines some of the foreseeable challenges facing today's students of contract law due to disruptive technology:

On the market today are a number of AI products that carry out contract review and analysis. Kira, an AI system used to review and analyze more than US$100 billion worth of corporate transactions (millions of pages), is said to reduce contract review times by up to 60%. Likewise, a Canadian product called Beagle (“We sniff out the fine print so you don’t have to”) is faster than any human, reading at .05 seconds per page. It reads your contract in seconds and understands who the parties are, their responsibilities, their liabilities, how to get out of it and more. These are amazing products that improve accuracy and eliminate a lot of the “grunt work” in commercial transactions.

But hey—my Contracts students are no dummies. They can do the math. Crunch the numbers and you have a lot of articling students and legal associates otherwise paid to carry out due diligence who now have their hands in their pockets and are looking for stuff to do in order to meet their daily billables. What will they do instead?

In some ways, such concerns are just teardrops in an ocean full of so-called smart contracts that are barely visible in the murky depths of tomorrow. Their DRM-driven protocols are likely to facilitate, verify, and enforce the negotiation and performance of contracts. In some cases, smart contracts will obviate the need for legal drafting altogether—because you don’t actually need legal documents to enforce these kinds of contracts. They are self-executing; computer code ensures their enforcement.

Kerr's concludes that smart contracts and their technological relatives are no more the death of contract than what Grant Gilmore pronounced, but that the change is worrisome, including to our relational understanding of contract doctrine and its practice:

I suspect we will face some significant changes and I am not sure that it’s all good. Self-executing contracts, like the DRM-systems upon which they are built, are specifically designed to promote the wholesale replacement of relational aspects of contract such as trust, promise, consent and enforcement. As such, they do injury to traditional contract theory and practice. While I have no doubt that an AI-infused legal landscape can to some extent accommodate these losses by creating functional equivalents where historical concepts no longer make sense (just as e-commerce has been quite successful in finding functional equivalents for the hand-written signature, etc.), I do worry that some innovations in AI-contracting could well have a negative effect on human contracting behavior and relationships.

The entire post is worth a read for anyone interested in the impact of technology on contracts.

January 31, 2016 in Commentary, Contract Profs, E-commerce, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Two-Credit Commercial Law Course?

I'm posting this proposal and solicitation of comments at the request of some valued contracts-prof colleagues named below. I hope you'll take them up on their request for feedback, which you can provide directly by clicking on the links associated with their names.

We – Wayne Barnes, David EpsteinPaula Franzese, and Kevin Tu – are asking for your help.

More law schools are no longer regularly or frequently offering courses in (1) payment systems, (2) secured transactions, and/or  (3) sales.  In part, this happens because these schools do not have faculty members who want to teach the courses.  And, in other cases, because students do not sign up for commercial law courses--even if the commercial law courses are taught from 11-12 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Most students do not need 42 class hours of payment systems, 42 hours of secured transactions, and 42 hours more of sales. ["What?! I'm appalled by this heretical statement!" - Ed.]  Lawyers in a general civil practice do, however, need to have familiarity with core commercial law concepts in order to master the specific statutory provisions that govern the transaction or litigation matter on which they are working. ["Okay, that's better." - Ed.] And, before that, there is a need to pass the state bar exam.

We propose that the needs of such students can best be meet in a two-credit course covering only core commercial law concepts, and we are working on course materials for such a course. We welcome your reasoned arguments against  this proposal.  Even more welcome would be your suggestions as to how 28 class hours can most effectively be used by students learning core commercial concepts.

We look forward to seeing you at the AALS and receiving your emails.

Luke Skywalker NoHmmm.  The idea of commercial law in two credits makes this teacher of payment systems and sales a little queasy (see my initial reaction in the selfie photo at left).  Still, I probably wouldn't argue with the proposition that some exposure to commercial law is better than none. I'm curious what the broader contracts community thinks, so I've opened up the comments below.  Meanwhile, take advantage of this opportunity to help our colleagues with an interesting project.

December 16, 2015 in Contract Profs, Law Schools, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Joining the Team: Stacey Lantagne (Ole Miss)

Greetings! I am very excited to be joining the fantastic ContractsProf Blog team, and I am especially grateful to Myanna Dellinger for providing the opportunity. I can't wait to get started digging into contract law issues here.  

I am an Assistant Professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law, and my specialty is actually intellectual property, with a focus on copyright and trademark. In addition to dealing with IP and entertainment law contracts in my classes, I also teach first-year Contracts.

I've devoted a lot of my scholarly energy to the IP implications of fandom (if you want to talk to me about fanfiction, my inbox is always open!) and am more broadly interested in the ways in which legal regimes get practically interpreted by laypeople in everyday life. Of course, in our contract-heavy lives in which every website we visit assumes we've read their terms and conditions, inexpert understandings (and misunderstandings) of contract law arise all the time (my favorite is the citation to the UCC to protect the privacy of Facebook statuses that circulates every once in a while). I am really looking forward to blogging about these and other contract law issues and exploring contract law with all of you and the rest of the awesome contributors!

December 2, 2015 in About this Blog, Contract Profs | Permalink | Comments (0)

GLOBAL K: In memoriam – Louis F. Del Duca

I have been looking forward to the resumption of my posts on ContractsProf blog, but sometimes events overtake us. It is with the greatest regret that I report that our colleague Louis F. Del Duca, Professor Emeritus at Penn State Law, died suddenly on 30 November 2015. An announcement from his law school is available here.

Lou was one of my co-authors on Global Issues in Contract Law (“GICL”), and a beloved friend and colleague for all of us. He was the longest-serving faculty member in the history of Penn State – Dickinson Law, and an internationally recognized scholar in commercial and comparative law. His influence in the “internationalization” of American legal education was profound. His inspiration on the development of West Academic’s Global Issues series was palpable.

At the time of his passing, Lou, I and our coauthors were finishing up the preparation of the GICL second edition. We all feel fortunate to have had this one last interaction with Lou, and I look on GICL second as a small remembrance of our friend and colleague. Godspeed Lou!

GICL

 


Michael P. Malloy

December 2, 2015 in Books, Contract Profs | Permalink