Thursday, January 27, 2011
I teach a lot of M&F crisis -- or at least I think I do. Property is (for the time being, at least) a two-semester, 6-credit odyssey at William Mitchell, so I have time I can devote to the crisis, and I seem to be spending more and more time on it. This semester, we'll devote close to 3 weeks to mortgages, foreclosures and evictions, as the conclusion of our section on real estate transactions.
It seems to me that the M&F crisis is the property law issue of the day, and we'd be remiss in not adding it to the property law curriculum. The students obviously know it's out there and are very curious. It's relevant, timely, compelling and a great teaching tool.
The problem is that for those of us whose background isn't in the mortgage and housing-finance industry, there's a lot to learn, and it can be difficult to find good class materials. I'm learning, and slowing piecing together some good usable materials (a case here, a primer there, a newspaper article there, etc.), and would be happy to share if anyone is interested.
I teach it in several pieces:
(1) what a mortgage is; the history of the secondary and tertiary mortgage markets in the U.S.; the mortgage-backed securities crisis;
(3) the foreclosure process generally;
(4) the current foreclosure crisis, and flaws in foreclosure proceedings; and
I've also been linking up with Mitchell's Community Development Clinic (run by Professor Diane Dube, resident adjunct extraordinaire), bringing people from the clinic into the classroom, and sending interested students into the clinic, and through the clinic into local public interest groups working on the front lines of the crisis. It's an opportunity for them to do good work, in both senses. And in addition to the obvious benefit of some practical experience for the students, it's my hope that some can find work in foreclosure law after graduating -- sadly, one of the very few growth areas for the legal profession at the moment.
I'd love to hear your ideas on how, and how much, to teach about the crisis.
Mark A. Edwards
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