General Thoughts About Law Classes

About Law:

These courses are about a basic broad-brush approach to Anglo-American Legal Environment of Business.

It’s based in the Anglo-American Common Law, which is a system of jurisprudence that originated in England, adopted in the US, and is based on precedence and case law instead of statutes.  In Ye Olde England, there were typically two types of Courts – Courts of Law and Courts of Equity.  In Courts of Law, judges applied the statutes.  In Courts of Equity, judges “created” laws on a case by case basis.  This “case law” or “common law” applied unless when a statute provided otherwise. 

To give some consistency, judges followed the previously decided cases or precedents.  That principal of consistency is called “stare decisis” (which is Latin for “Let the decision stand.”  Judges and lawyers like Latin because it is a beautiful language – and you can confuse your client.)

That doesn’t mean that judges follow precedent blindly. They can re-examine and if needed overrule prior decisions.  But stare decisis and the common law can help individuals and businesses plan because it gives them a predictability, certainty and stability in certain governing rules of law.

Oliver Wendell Holmes in his book on The Common Law put it this way:

The life of the law has not been logic.  It has been experience. The felt necessities of the time, the prevalent moral and political theories, intuitions of public policy, avowed or unconscious, even the prejudices which judges share with their fellow-men, have had a good deal more to do than the syllogism in determining the rules by which men should be governed. The law embodies the story of a nation’s development through many centuries, and it cannot be dealt with as if it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a book of mathematics. In order to know what it is, we must know what it has been, and what it tends to become.