As Congress and the Biden administration grapple with proposed infrastructure legislation, this course will introduce students to the world of public works and how attorneys help make major projects happen -- or how they throw up roadblocks that may stymie efforts to put "shovels in the ground." The course will include a mix of lecture, seminar-style discussion, and speakers from the private and public sectors who are subject matter experts and have first-hand experience working on infrastructure projects. For each class, students will be given reading assignments from a variety of source materials. The syllabus will be divided into three sections.
The principal objective of the first four class sessions will be to provide a foundational understanding of infrastructure -- its definition (including whether it encompasses "human" infrastructure), history, its role in society, the ethical dilemmas it often presents and how political challenges necessitate new and unconventional financing models, including so-called public-private partnerships.
The next four classes will show the tight nexus that exists between law and infrastructure. During these sessions, students will discuss and become familiarized with the "Legal ABCs" of infrastructure law, particularly in the areas of condemnation, regulatory compliance, environmental law and commercial law.
During the final five classes, students will enter the "real world" by understanding how major infrastructure projects actually have (or have not) gotten done. Particular emphasis will be placed on the Gordie Howe International Bridge, Enbridge Line 5, road funding, the High Line, China's Belt and Road Initiative, successful and unsuccessful public-private partnerships and the Sidewalk Labs innovation district project in Toronto. Grades will be based on a final 15-page research/writing assignment, two short essays, one group presentation and class participation.
For details on class times, days of the week, instructors, and grading and exam details, please view the Michigan Law Class Schedule.