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The College of Law normally offers seminars each semester.

Seminars for Spring 2015 include:

Law 900.1 - CULTURE AND DISPUTING – Professor Lawrence Schlam

This seminar—useful to those studying Alternative Dispute Resolution, clinical mediation, international law or comparative law, among other courses—will attempt to explore dispute resolution from a sociological and anthropological—as well as legal—point of view in a variety of different societies, both “primitive” and modern (European, Native-American, Asian and African), and in certain inter-generational, inter-gender or inter-racial contexts.

Dispute resolution practices in any given society relate to or derive from the culture of that society. The study of dispute resolution within or between other cultures provides insight into the true nature of our own system of disputing, and into the limits of our present means of conflict resolution in terms of what it can realistically accomplish for disputants.

Thus, this seminar is intended to provide a broader understanding of: (a)  the nature of “culture” and its impact on conflict resolution; (b) the insights to be gained from examining dispute resolution in other societies; (c) the possibility of reform of the American adversarial legal process to better serve disputants; and (d) the limits to the “real justice” attorneys can accomplish given our present American adversarial system (thus, perhaps, ameliorating the personal frustrations that will ultimately arise in professional life).


Over six years have passed since the bursting of the housing bubble and the resulting financial crisis in 2008. Yet many commentators believe that the conditions giving rise to these events have not fundamentally changed and that another crisis is likely. This seminar will examine the 2008 crisis and attempt to identify contributing causes and preventive measures. We will address a variety of questions, including: What are the historical antecedents to the events that brought the U.S. and world financial system to near "meltdown?" What economic and other theories supported deregulation? What factors other than deregulation helped cause the crisis? Why haven't any top executives of the financial firms been prosecuted? What costs of deregulation were "externalized" and imposed on pension funds, municipalities, taxpayers and other persons and entities as a result of the crisis? What reform measures have been implemented by Congress, the Federal Reserve Board and other federal agencies and do they address the core causes of the financial crisis? Are the reform measures proving to be effective? What additional steps, if any, should be taken at the national and international level to attempt to avert or limit the impact of future financial crises? Potential research topics may cover a wide range of subjects and interests, including (1) banking, insurance, real estate and securities regulation, (2) white collar crime, (3) corporate governance and accountability, (4) the role of international financial institutions and events, and (5) the impact of financial and regulatory reforms by Congress and various federal agencies.

Law 900.3 - CHILDREN AND IMMIGRATION – Professor Anita Maddali

This seminar will explore issues relating to immigrant children.  We will discuss the reasons children -- often on their own -- migrate to the United States. We will look at the detention of unaccompanied immigrant minors once they are apprehended by immigration and study the legal protections that are available to them.  As part of the seminar component, this course will involve multiple writing assignments throughout the semester.

For interested students, particularly students who speak Spanish, there may be an opportunity to earn additional credits through a directed research project that would involve traveling to immigrant detention centers to deliver know your rights presentations.  There would also be a writing component.


This seminar will explore the nature of the limited judicial relief that is available to state and federal prisoners after their criminal convictions become final. We will focus on federal habeas corpus law and the Illinois Post-conviction Hearing Act. Topics for discussion will include claims of actual innocence, the competing values of finality and fairness, statutes of limitations and other statutory barriers to relief, and the federalism implications of federal habeas review.


In addition to the four seminars listed above, the following seminar from the NIU Department of Political Science is cross-listed in the College of Law. This means you can sign up for it as a law school course in MyNiu and it will automatically count toward the 90 hours required for a law degree (subject to the limit that students may count only 6 hours of non-law courses toward the J.D. degree). Moreover, cross-listed seminars will satisfy the College of Law upper-division writing requirement only with the approval of the seminar instructor and the Associate Dean of the College of Law.

Law 900.5 - Topics in Public Law: Judicial Policymaking and US Legal Institutions in Comparative Perspective  – Professor Brendon Swedlow, NIU Department of Political Science 

This seminar is offered by Prof. Brendon Swedlow to graduate students in the Dept. of Political Science.  It is cross-listed as a law school course to facilitate enrollment by law students.