Fundamentals of US Law (Spring 2014)

Registration is now closed for this course.

Fundamentals of U.S. Law introduces students to the American legal system and the common-law method of case analysis.  Students will read a selection of the most influential cases in American jurisprudence.  Those cases explore the principal Constitutional doctrines that are the foundation of the American legal system, including federalism and separation of powers. Students will learn how to read cases, find and synthesize holdings, and predict outcomes based on common law development. Students will also learn about the sources of U.S. law, the lawyer’s role in the American legal system, and the legal culture in the United States.

Syllabus: Download here

Course #: W208.9

Credit: 2 units

Note: If you are currently enrolled in a Berkeley Law degree program or intend to enroll, this course will not provide credit for any Berkeley Law in-resident degree programs.  You will receive a transcript indicating that you received 2 Berkeley Law credits. These may be applicable at another institution that accepts them.

Registration opens: March 24, 2014
Registration closes: May 11th, midnight PST
Instruction runs May 12th to June 27th, 2014. Access to the course opens April 28th for important pre-class activities.

Instructor: William Fernholz 

Required textbook: The required book is Charles Abernathy, Law in the United States (Thomson West, 2006). It is available to order online here:
Berkeley Law Bookstore (new and rental)
Skyo (used and rental)

Additional readings will be assigned as needed and will be available on the course website.

Who should take this course:
Attorneys who practice internationally
Prospective LL.M. students 
U.S. undergraduate students

Time commitment:
Per week, students should expect about four hours of instruction and 12 hours of reading and preparing.

$2600 USD 

Limited financial aid is available to qualified applicants. Contact us at for more information.

About the instructor


William H.D. Fernholz has taught at Berkeley Law for 14 years. For the past half-decade, he has taught Fundamentals of U.S. Law, a required course, to Berkeley Law's LLM students. He has also taught Appellate Advocacy, Civil Rights Litigation, Employment Discrimination, and other courses. Bill received his J.D. from Boalt Hall, where he served as senior executive editor of the California Law Review. He practiced plaintiff-side poverty and civil rights law for seven years prior to joining the law school faculty.