As part of a continuing series on Spring 2019 semester courses that relate to innovation and business law, this post spotlights Debt Transactions.
“Borrowing fuels the world’s economic engine,” Professor Pat Bauer observed. “Nearly every American entity, from large multinational corporations to unsophisticated consumers, engages in some form of credit transaction.” In Debt Transactions, Professor Bauer introduces students to “the wonderful world of liens,” the mechanism that gives creditors rights in their debtors’ assets, and the foundation of debtor-creditor law.
In addition to covering debtor-creditor law, Debt Transactions introduces business situations and dynamics in a context that is approachable even to students without a business background. “The course begins with indebted consumers and indebted farmers, which gives debtor-creditor law a very human scale,” explained Professor Bauer. “By the time we get to the end, we’re talking about commercial actors like inventory lenders.”
“Debtor-creditor law is about leverage: about getting people to do what you want them to do; a useful skill for a lawyer,” Professor Bauer summarized. “After the course, even the best students invariably forget some of the content, but the skills are enduring.”
Professor Bauer uses a variation of the Socratic Method, making small groups of students responsible in advance for answering questions on a given class’s material. He also assigns three small sets of practice problems (graded on a pass/fail basis) over the course of the semester. And despite its contextual introduction of business dynamics, Professor Bauer recommends that students without a business background consider reading Business Basics for Law Students. “Of all the different supplements and nutshells I’ve reviewed, it’s one of the two or three best,” he observed.
There are no prerequisites for Debt Transactions.
Laws and practices of modern lending; procedures for collection of unsecured debts, including enforcement of judgments, exemptions, prejudgment remedies, fraudulent conveyances, statutory liens; secured transactions that involve real property (mortgages) and personal property (security interests governed by Uniform Commercial Code, Article 9); consumer and commercial transactions, counseling hypothetical creditor or debtor clients, understanding realities that shape enforcement of credit agreements.