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Legal Commentary: Prawfs
Something You Ought To Know if You Teach a Class that Sounds "Sexy"
By Dan Markel, Ethan Leib, Rick Garnett, Matt Bodie, Paul Horwitz , Steve Vladeck, and Orly Lobel
If you teach a class like Mass Media Law, or Entertainment Law, or Sports Law that sounds "sexy" or "fun" to students, you owe it to the students and yourself to go in the first day of class and dramatically lower students' expectations before the class begins. In Mass Media Law, for example, I give a speech that goes something like this.
Mass Media Law is about the law that affects the mass media as a business. This is not primarily a media policy class. We will discuss new technologies and the changing role of mass media in society, but only as it relates to legal developments. You will leave this class having been administered a heavy dose of First Amendment law and First Amendment theory, so if you hated Constitutional Law, you will probably hate this class, too. You will read Supreme Court cases as difficult and complicated as any of those you've studied in law school so far. So I don't want to hear any complaints that I didn't warn you when we are piecing our way vote by vote through long and complicated constitutional cases. On the other hand, if you are taking this class because you love Constitutional law, you may be disappointed to find out that you will have to learn about several other bodies of law, too. Media Law, for example, has a heavy tort law component. Some of the torts we will study, such as defamation, are more complex and convoluted than any you studied in your first-year Torts class. Again, don't say I didn't warn you when we get there. And if you are happy with the torts and constitutional law aspects of Media Law, you may be disappointed that we will also address various other bodies of law, including statutes and administrative regulations that affect the media. Finally, at the end the day, if you do find you love Media Law as much as I do, you'll probably be depressed to find that there are very few jobs in the area. That said, Media Law will definitely improve your ability to analyze constitutional cases. For some of you, it will be the only First Amendment Law you ever study in law school. And a number of the things we will discuss may appear on the Bar exam in some way, shape or form. But that's really all I can promise.
By the time I've finished this grim speech, I've no doubt driven a number of students to drop/add. The remaining students and I then get to have all the fun!
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