Contracts is a first-year course in common law jurisdictions around the world. Professor Russell teaches Contracts at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and, during 2012-13, at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, where the course meets twice weekly for 50 minutes per session.
A contract is an exchange relationship that is voluntary--more or less. The typical pattern is that one person (or company) sells goods or services to another person (or company) for money. For the most part, Contracts students examine what happens after something goes wrong with this transaction.
Contracts is a required course in the United States and Ireland--as well as in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia--because the concepts and methods are fundamental to being able to approach law as a lawyer. In this respect, the course is like an introductory course in a foreign language. If you can't talk contracts, you can't talk like a lawyer. Conversely, when you know the language, you can converse with lawyers in common law countries around the globe.
The course emphasizes the empirical and sociological realities of both business and the system of civil justice. In order to explain and defend the legal systems, students must learn what actually happens in the legal system.
In addition to focusing upon the empirical realities of business, litigation, and life, the course also considers some of the theories that explain and/or justify the rules that are supposed to guide contract law and litigation. Consideration of the these rules is divided into topics, including damages. Contracts considers the common law of contracts and, in the United States, the Uniform Commercial Code--especially Article 2. This course prepares students to consider the law of Contracts in all common law jurisdictions.
As with other law school courses and with practicing law, being organized and thinking systematically is the key to doing well in Contracts.