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Lawyers are charged with prosecuting and defending the civil and criminal failings of others. In client counseling and transactional representation, we are charged with helping our clients avoid failure. And as professionals, we are enjoined to avoid failures ourselves. So we spend our careers in and around failure - anticipating it, reconstructing it, and seeking to prevent and remedy it. This seminar explores the human experience of failure in both legal and non-legal settings. What are the circumstances (structural and cognitive) that appear to lead to personal, professional, legal, political, and moral failures? How does the law shape social understandings of what failure is? What kinds of failures appear to support the belief that failure is (almost always) avoidable, and thus the fault of individuals who experience failure? Why do other failures seem inevitable? What is the narrative structure and allure of representations of failure as a condition of success? How are failure and the harms that flow from the experience of failure remembered or forgotten by individuals and groups who cause failure and those who attempt to redress it? Sources for the seminar will range from cases dealing with professional malpractice and cultural histories of professional ideology to poetry, constitutional history, theories of creative destruction, and responses to mass atrocities. Begins in Winter Quarter and runs through Spring Quarter. Class meeting dates: Five evening sessions to be determined by instructor in coordination with enrolled students. Elements used in grading: Class attendance at all sessions and class participation. To apply for this course, 2L, 3L and Advanced Degree students must complete an application form available on the SLS Registrar's Office website (see Registration and Selection of Classes for Stanford Law Students and then see Consent of Instructor Forms). See form for instructions and submission deadline.

2015-2016 Spring
03/28/2016 - 05/27/2016 Tue 5 PM - 7:00 PM
Instructors: Norman W. Spaulding

Instructors for this course (Past and Present)

Norman W. Spaulding