Does the Secured Transactions Course Make Sense?
posted by Dave Hoffman
I’ve never taught Secured Transactions, so I’ll start by saying that the following is purely speculative and subject to correction.
We had a job candidate come through at some point this Fall who generally is interested in the field of commercial law. That person mentioned in passing that although they were more than willing to teach the traditional secured transactions course, in their opinion it wasn’t well structured. Why? Not, as the navel-gazer might imagine, because the field of commercial law is supposedly intellectually dead. Rather because the traditional secured transaction course is too narrowly conceived — it usually is limited in coverage to personal property security interests under Article 9. But many security interests that matter to lawyers aren’t held on movable property. Since secured is ordinarily the foundational course for the commercial curriculum, students are left starting on too narrow a footing in understanding bankruptcy and bank regulation. It’s even worse than having a corporations course that excludes LLCs. Because of its technicality, ST is traditionally so difficult to teach that many students are turned off to the idea of commercial law practice at all.
Again, I don’t know much about this area of law. I never took ST in law school, I haven’t taught it, and (worse) I haven’t even read a ST syllabus at my current institution. But it struck me as an interesting thought, at least worth airing. It’s related to concerns I have about the general corporate curriculum — is “corporations” really a subject that ought to be taught in a single course, or is it really a merger of too many (or too few) legal principles that have glommed together over time. It’s also related to concerns that one might have about continuing to use the increasingly outdated, purportedly uniform, UCC to teach when States’ adopted versions are moving ever-further-away from that ideal.