Monday, August 13, 2007
So asks Ilya Somin at the VC:
In legal circles, the RAP is virtually a byword for abstruse complexity, and is traditionally one of the most hated parts of the law school curriculum. Forcing law students to learn it is almost a form of hazing, much like making them learn the Blue Book.
But that's not why I'm considering dropping it. I think it should probably be dumped from introductory property courses because virtually every state and most foreign common law jurisdictions have essentially abolished it - either by providing for the creation of "perpetual trusts" or by enacting statutes suspending its operation for 90 years after the death of the previous owner. The RAP takes a good deal of time to read about and explain, and causes endless frustration for both students and property professors. I suspect that that time and energy can be better spent on more productive activities - much like the time we spend learning and applying the Blue Book.
Ilya's point about the changes to the RAP is an important one. Pennsylvania just abolished the RAP for newly created interests (wait-and-see will continue to apply to pre-2007 interests), and I'd bet that the RAP will be abolished completely within the next twenty years. Many of the statutory changes, however, still involve some application of the common law rule, which suggests that keeping the RAP in first year Property is a good idea. The RAP is also something that might be hard to grasp without having some exposure to it in law school, and the Rule does come up in some odd contexts. On the other hand, teaching it well takes at least four hours of class time. With time scarce, I wouldn't be surprised if the RAP is increasingly cut out of Property.
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