Friday, March 6, 2009
I've been teaching LRW for 19 years. In the spring semester, I give my students a problem of federal law to research and then write about in a trial brief and an appellate brief. Most years I end up using some kind of discrimination problem. I've used the ADA, ADEA, Title VII, Title IX, Fair Housing Act, and this year, the Fair Pay Act. The students end up getting familiar with a basic procedural scheme: These cases tend to require that the plaintiff make out a prima facie case, then the burden shifts to the defendant to prove an affirmative defense or some kind of applicable exception, then the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to argue why that's just a pretext for discrimination. This year for the first time I read a trial brief in which the student was explaining "the defendant's burden shifts ...." Only problem was, the "f" was missing from the verb. Let's hope inadvertently.