February 15, 2006
Theory In First Year Property
So yesterday was ABA inspection day here in Harrisburg. On Tuesdays, I teach both Bus Orgs and Property 2 (the second half of our full-year 6-credit property course). Arthur Gaudio, the chair of the inspection team and a serious property expert, sat in on both classes. In Property, I covered Moore v. Regents, which is probably the most fun case to teach in the first year Property curriculum. You might ask why I was teaching Moore in the middle of Property 2, rather than at the beginning of the course where most texts (including D&K, which I use) put the case. The answer is that this year, I've moved the entire theory unit to go right before nuisance, which is where the economic theory (Coase, Externalities, Demsetz, Property Rules v. Liability Rules, etc.) has the most impact. It seems to be working well so far, in part because my students are better equipped to discuss theory issues after having had a semester of property law as background.
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Very interesting placement of the theory material, Ben. I may try that next year. But just a minute; I'm not sure Moore's the most fun. I'd put it behind Johnson v. McIntosh (which I is the case I most enjoy teaching); Shelley v. Kraemer and Euclid are pretty high on my list, too. But there's also a really strong case for Stambovsky as the most fun for the students and I've found for a lot that the most entertaining is O'Keefe v. Snyder. Come to think of it, this might make for a good subject for a poll of property prof readers....
Posted by: Alfred L. Brophy | Feb 15, 2006 11:33:27 AM
I suppose it has something to do with scholarly interest -- I'm doing some work on property in the body, so I really like Moore (even if the majority opinion is weak). Here's the interesting thing: this year, I'm not teaching Johnson v. M'Intosh, Shelley or O'Keefe v. Snyder (gasp!), though I'm lecturing on the points made by each of them -- I've found that the payoff from each isn't really worth the time each takes to teach. I'm thinking of doing the same thing with Stambovsky next year. Each of these cases has great facts but limited legal significance. Actually, the same thing could be said for Moore. Maybe I just find the policy issues in Moore more interesting than in the others, which is just a personal preference. I think it is important to get into some policy issues in some depth with students; I'm not sure it matters that much about which issues a particular prof chooses.
Posted by: Ben Barros | Feb 15, 2006 12:11:50 PM