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Law Classes Now an Undergraduate Opportunity

Prof. Ann Hubbard teaching

UC undergraduates can get an early taste of law school and gain insights into everyday legal issues this spring, when the College of Law offers courses designed especially for them for the first time. 

College of Law professors will teach Constitutional Landmarks and Disability Rights Law, both of which are open to students from any college. Both also count as electives toward the Certificate in Legal Studies, a program expected to launch in 2016.

"We are delighted to welcome UC undergraduate students to our building and look forward to continuing to build connections in the months to come," said Dean Jennifer S. Bard.

“Both courses were created with undergraduates in mind, so they don’t replicate traditional law school classes. Instead they expose students to aspects of the law and the legal system that they are likely to encounter in school, at work or elsewhere,” said Professor Michele Bradley, Special Assistant to the Dean for Strategic Initiatives at the College of Law. Bradley is helping to coordinate this initiative.

Students from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds can benefit from familiarity with legal concepts introduced in these courses, Bradley said. “Whether you’re studying business, engineering, social work, education or journalism, for example, it’s helpful to understand how the law and the legal system work.”

Disability Rights Law

The Disability Rights Law course, taught by Professor Ann Hubbard, will examine how society and laws both define and respond to individuals with diverse disabilities. A large focus will be on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“One in five Americans have a disability, and one in 10 college students do, so it’s a fact of life,” Hubbard said. “You will have clients, patients or customers with disabilities, you will have employees with disabilities, and you may need to make your place of business accessible to those with disabilities.”

Students will examine specific disabilities—including HIV, depression and visual impairment—exploring if and how they limit one’s ability to work, learn, or take part in a community. “If you let go of your assumptions, you find that many conditions are not as limiting as you first thought,” Hubbard said.

Constitutional Landmarks

Constitutional Landmarks, taught by Professor Chris Bryant, will introduce students to some of the U.S. Supreme Court’s most pivotal and controversial rulings, including debates from the cases as well as the context in which rulings were made.

Students will not merely be reading about the decision, they will immerse themselves in substantial excerpts from opinions of the case, which are what often spark substantial debate and controversy.

“In addition to the opinions, there will be supplemental material to help the students in cracking these cases...because some of them are jawbreakers,” Bryant said.

Broad appeal to legal insights

Both Hubbard and Bryant agree that students with no interest in law school can still benefit from enrollment.

"Professionals in every field follow a host of laws every day: about contracts, privacy, workers' rights, taxes and the like,” Hubbard said. “The better you know the law and follow the law, the less you'll have to call in the lawyers. But you will know when you do need to consult a lawyer, and you'll know what questions to ask that lawyer."

Bryant said that an understanding of past Constitutional law cases is important for general citizenship purposes. Legal doctrine should be accessible to all well-informed and thoughtful citizens, he said, and this course will offer important context about Supreme Court rulings.

“It will be extremely engaging for the students,” Bryant said. “They’ll be surprised at how quickly they take to what these old fogies in robes have to say.”

Both courses signal an exciting expansion in the College of Law, which just boasted the second-highest Ohio Bar passage rates in the state; UC students boast an 88 percent passage for first time takers and 87 percent overall compared to the state’s 80 percent and 74.5 percent, respectively.

“We are so excited to welcome undergraduate students into the law school to see what a dynamic community and engaging professors we have,” Bradley said. “There is a rapidly growing need for legally educated people, short of having a JD, and I see this as filling a really important need in society.”

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