Instructor(s): Gillian Hadfield

The course will meet on alternate weeks for two hours (12 hours in total).

Note: For graduate students, the course number is LAW7108H.

Law is one of our most important inventions: when law is working well, it provides a platform of rules on which people can build productive economies and safe, fair, and peaceful relationships and communities. The very success of a given legal platform, however, generates the seeds of its own undoing: as economies grow and become more interdependent, human societies grow more complex and diverse, challenging the taken-for-granted rules of daily life and increasing the demands on the platform. When that happens, we begin to see the accumulation of problems and failures in our legal systems. In this reading course, we will examine the ways in which our modern legal systems are under pressure and in need of innovation. The problems we face today range from tremendous obstacles to access to justice, the failure of corporate, commercial, and regulatory frameworks to keep up with the pace and globalization of the digital economy, and the continued weakness of the rule of law throughout much of the developing world. The primary text for the course will be Rules for a Flat World: Why Humans Invented Law and How to Reinvent It for a Complex Global Economy, together with additional readings that supplement, expand, and challenge its argument. (For a quick overview of the argument, see

Note: This course can be taken as a stand-alone course, but it will also serve as a prerequisite to Legal Design Lab (LAW492H) (winter term), in which students will work in teams to develop innovative solutions to problems worth solving in our legal systems.

will be based on participation in discussions (10%), three written reflections on the readings (500 words each) (30%), and a short (1000 words) final statement of a problem worth solving (60%).

At a Glance

First Term


35 JD


W: 4:10 - 6:00