August 21, 2008
Black Market for Law School Courses
Posted by Rob Illig

Day 4 - Another short post, as I'm off to teach my two classes.  Gordon's post on teaching philosophy is fascinating, however, and I'll try to respond tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I just learned that a black market has arisen for my four-credit course on Business Associations! 

The way UO handles course selection, students can sign up for courses online, but only until the course enrollment maxes out.  After that, students must wait for someone to drop before they can add.  What this means is that a student who wants to enroll in a course that is already full must be constantly vigilant so as to quickly spot when someone drops so they can be the first to add and take the former student's spot. 

Recently, however, we've discovered that a black market has arisen for some small and especially popular courses.  For example, interested students will use the student listserve to offer small amounts of cash or other goodies if a currently enrolled student will coordinate the timing of their drop with the interested student's add.  In other words, students are actually buying and selling places in some of our courses!

Previously, this has only happened in isolated cases in extremely small (and usually skills-based) courses.  However, my Business Associations section was capped at 85 students and thus is one of the largest in the school (for context, our entering class last year was 178 and we offer sections of BA both semesters and during the summer).  Thus, either the phenomenon is spreading or interest in business and transactional law is ballooning.  Anyway, the whole thing makes me wonder why I'm not the one getting offered the bribes....!

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