Changes are coming to the first-year curriculum at Georgia State College of Law next year, with the addition of a required Legislation & Regulation class.
Georgia State joined roughly 40 other law schools that require the first-year class. Other changes include dropping Contracts from two semesters to one, moving Civil Procedure to the second semester for part-time students and raising the total credit hours for first-year full-time students from 30 to 31 hours.
“We felt this was a gap in the curriculum, because most students will deal with regulations and statutes at some point in their legal careers,” said Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Ryan Rowberry. “We felt like it would be good if they started out in their first year with some foundational information.”
Traditionally, classes for first-year students are case-driven and revolve around appellate decisions. However, much of modern legal practice consists of advising clients about the elaborate web of statutes, rules and regulations that give form to the modern American government. The Legislation & Regulation course will give students the chance to see this side of the legal system and law practice as early as possible, aiming to provide them with a broader perspective as they move through law school.
“This class will let you tap into the public side of law, which is just as important as diving into appellate private law cases,” Rowberry said. “This allows us to balance out the curriculum. It makes a lot more sense. Most students don’t know exactly what they want to do coming in. We wanted to provide a wider vision of potential law pathways earlier.”
Professors Robert Weber and Erin C. Fuse Brown will teach the new class, and while the material may be new to students, the style of the class should look familiar to the professors.
Weber specializes in securities regulation, and Fuse Brown, who is the director of the Center for Law, Health & Society, specializes in Administrative Law. Teaching Legislation & Regulation to first-year students will be similar to the upper-level courses they teach.
“Legislation & Regulation will provide a much firmer foundation for my upper-level Securities Regulation students,” Weber said. “Just like real securities lawyers, all the students really look at in that class are statutes, rules and regulations.”
The decision to add the course did not come lightly. Led by the curriculum committee, extensive research was performed on other schools with similar first-year requirements before the change was proposed.
“This was a multi-year project,” Rowberry said. “It’s a whole faculty endeavor. We had several meetings where we discussed potential changes. Some did not go through, and others did. It was pretty clear this one would be a positive step.”