Course Description

601:671. PAYMENT SYSTEMS (4)


To my mind, this is the most enjoyable course in law school. Students who take this course often agree. With the method we develop over the course of the semester, you will become an expert in this field and therefore feel a sense of accomplishment that is rare in law school. For the rest of your life, aside from others who have taken this course here at Rutgers, you will probably never meet anyone who knows as much about these matters as you do. Many lawyers shy away from these questions because they are thought to be exceedingly complex. If you identify yourself as someone willing and eager to handle these cases, you may find a path to a job and, since you will then have a niche in the firm, it might help you make partner.

The course has two focuses. Substantively, we spend most of the term examining the law that governs negotiable instruments—most of the cases involve promissory notes and checks. Virtually every commercial transaction involves one of these instruments. By the end of the course, you will be able to answer the following questions: If someone steals your checkbook and cashes your check, are you liable to the bank? If you buy a defective widget and then stop payment, can the seller sue you on the check? If the check gets lost in the mail, what should you do? When you win that million-dollar verdict, who should the check be written to, to you or to your client? We then examine the legal regulation of the bank collection of checks and compare negotiable instruments with debit and credit cards and electronic funds transfers.

In terms of method, you will learn the most important feature of the examination of any new case, namely where to begin the analysis. There is only one rule in the private law, and it is absolute, and it relates to this question. If you do not yet have practice about where to start and how to proceed methodically with your legal analysis (Hint: you do not start with the issue), you should not leave law school without taking this course. Every lawyer should know how to work through these questions, even criminal lawyers, at least if they intend to work in the field of white-collar crime.