Saturday, August 28, 2004

Baby's First Week at Law School

It's been good. Which class we talk about what in is kind of blurring together, since many of the cases we chew over overlap their subject matter from one class to another. Like, maybe we talk about a contract in Civil Procedure - so we can talk about the *procedure* - as well as a contract in, you guessed it, Contracts.

I can see it's *very* easy for my fellows to get bogged down in the details of the case, as opposed to what the case tells us about the system. I probably only think I'm not suffering from that as greatly as everyone else. (Hopefully, my arrogance will tip me on my ass quickly and I can get over myself without too much damage.)

Some of the stuff we're reading right now dates back to the 1800's, so that we're seeing evolution of thought on property, contractual obligations, jurisdiction, and what harm really means (for my classes Property, Contracts, Civil Procedure, and Torts - all fascinating, btw). Because it changes with time.

I mentioned we touched on contractual obligations in both Contracts and Civil Procedure. Well, what we (the American system) inherited from the British system was a very formal approach with little room for intent.

Did you sign the contract? Is that your mark? Does it say you will perform X? Then you must perform X. Even if you *meant* at the time to sign a document that said Y - which was very similar to X, but not X - still, you promised X. Tough. Too bad for you.

But, things evolve, and today, there is some room in the rule (which is still the formal approach) for misrepresentation, or the inability to have a "meeting of minds" - in short, for trying to determine if an "honest mistake" has occurred.

Similarly, just in the past 40 years, there's been a shift in permitting lawsuits for emotional distress, even when no physical harm has resulted from some party's actions. Used to not be the case. Now, battery means to touch someone with intent to cause harm or offense, and to actually cause harm or offense, and the phrase emotional distress has some - certainly still fuzzy - meaning in a courtroom.

Baby's First Week: pretty good.