School of Law
State University of New York at Buffalo

Seminar on

"Private" Law Making

Law 823
[working draft -- subject to change]

Professor Errol Meidinger
719 O'Brian Hall
SUNY at Buffalo Law School
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
Phone: Buffalo: 716/645-6692; fax: 716/645-2064

Secretary: Lois Stutzman
718 O'Brian Hall




Purpose The goal of the seminar is to address the following questions in the context of emerging non-governmental transnational regulatory institutions: Where do laws come from? How is a social norm or a widely held expectation made into law? How do non-governmental actors convert their social objectives into binding laws? For well over a century most people have assumed that official actions by nation states constitute the law. Over the past decade, however, many developments have once again put that assumption in question. This seminar uses readings on legal and social theory, as well as on recent substantive developments in the areas of cyberspace regulation, commercial arbitration, and environmental standard setting, to explore the changing role of non-governmental actors in law making. Of course, this discussion raises the question of whether the fundamental nature of law might be undergoing change in the 21st century.

Teaching Method This will be a true seminar. All members will read assigned materials in advance of seminar meetings and critically discuss their conceptual framework, empirical accuracy, and practical implications. The instructor will serve as a discussion leader posing key questions and helping the group to examine their implications, but students will share responsibility for creating an enlightening and insightful discussion. To promote interdisciplinary cross-fertilization, the seminar is open to law, honors, and graduate students (with permission of the instructor).

Requirements Each member of the seminar will:


The readings may change somewhat as the seminar proceeds. Required readings that are not hyperlinked will be available either outside Room 718 or from the Law School Bookstore. Recommended ones are on Reserve in the Law Library. 

Tues, Jan 28
Introduction to the Seminar

Outline of the course, the basic questions to be examined, and expectations of students. 

Tues, Feb 4  
The Fundamental Nature of Law and Law Making 
What features must something have to be described as law? What are the different kinds and sources of law? Why do societies privilege some kinds of law over others? 

Tues, Feb 11

Environmental Certification

Recommended (Recommended readings are intended to help students delve deeper into an area than the core readings. Those that are not freely downloadable are available at the Law Library Reserve Desk.):

Tues, Feb 18
First part of class: choose topics


International Commercial Arbitration

Required (copies of readings that are not downloadable will be available outside 718):



Tues, Feb 25

Cyberspace Regulation


Paper Topic Choices Due: write a paragraph describing (1) the question you intend to address, (2) what materials you expect to consult, and (3) how you expect to analyze them. 


Tues, Mar 4  
The Global Social Context



Tues, Mar 18
Meet to discuss reseach

Tues, Mar 25 
Free for reseach

Tues, Apr 1
Free for research

Tues, Apr 8 
Free for research

Fri, Apr 11
Student Presentations

Tues, Apr 22 
Free to finalize papers.

Mon, May 5, 3:00 pm, Final Papers Due in Room 718

Last Modified 02/26/03