Anglo-American Legal Concepts

Course Description: 

The structure, methodology, and some institutions of the Anglo-American legal system differ considerably from those of the ‘civil law’ tradition of Europe, South America, and parts of Asia. Since the CEU International Business Law program introduces many substantive law subjects from the perspective of US law, it is important to become familiar early with how a common law legal system works, so that students will be able to understand US policy, legislation, and cases. The most important of these differences include the central role of ‘case law’, the analysis of cases to determine their ‘holdings’, the reach of ‘precedent’ and of ‘res judicata’, the concept of ‘equity’, as well as the structure of the American court system and the conduct of trials in the US. This course explores these and other issues, illustrated by cases. The course will be very ‘hands-on’, giving students the tools they need to work with US law, and asking them to apply these tools in in-class activities.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of this course, students should:

  • Be familiar with a variety of basic Anglo-American legal terminology and concepts.
  • Gain an understanding of the most important differences between civil law and common law, both historically and in the present day.
  • Understand how to read a case, map it using the IRAC method, and apply its holding to new fact patterns.
  • Be familiar with the US judicial system and the trial, understand the role of precedent and res judicata, and discuss the importance of judges, lawyers, and trials in the US cultural landscape
  • Be familiar with the landscape of US statutory law, and the way in which statutes and case law interact.
  • Understand the importance of equity, and gain an appreciation for the indeterminate nature of much of the common law.

In addition, students should develop their skills, including:

  • Interpersonal communication skills – mastering Anglo-American legal terminology through exposure, repetition, and use in class
  • Technology skills – learning to work with resource databases
  • Cultural sensitivity and diversity – feeling comfortable working with different legal systems and traditions, applying comparative principles
  • Critical thinking – developing the ability to analyze, compare, and critique different legal approaches to problem solving.

Because it is part of the introductory session, this course will be graded pass/fail. However, a letter grade will be assigned on the basis of adequate attendance, preparation, and participation as well as a final paper that will take the form of a legal memo.

Class participation will make up 30% of the final grade.

  • The class participation grade includes attendance and active contribution during class, preparation for and completion of in-class activities, and pre-class preparation of readings.
  • As a general rule of thumb, silent and non-disruptive participation in all classes will result in a 'B' grade. Positive contributions to the learning experience will raise this grade according to the level and quality of participation. Disruptive behavior, lateness, or lack of preparedness will lower the grade in proportion to the level and frequency of the undesirable behavior.

The final memo will make up 70% of the final grade.

  • Instructions for the legal memo, as well as notes on grading, will be distributed in the final class.