U OF H LAW TAKING ON EMINENT DOMAIN CLASS TO PREP FOR FUTURE AREA LAND GRABS An upcoming course at the University of Houston Law Center will focus entirely on eminent domain, in the wake of a similar course now wrapping up its inaugural semester at UT Austin. The law firm Johns Marrs Ellis & Hodge, whose partners are teaching both classes, says it believes these to be the first 2 law classes in the nation to focus exclusively on “the law of taking”; the courses have been added with the expectation that continued population growth in Houston and more than half a dozen other major Texas cities will continue to fuel future infrastructure capacity-boosting projects — including new pipelines, highways, and transmission corridors potentially criss-crossing now-private property. [PRNewswire] Photo of University of Houston Law Center: Douglas R.
This is ridiculous for my alma mater to be offering these courses. One, imminent domain is the simplest form of law. With constitutional restrictions, state government just enacts the law and it’s basically color by numbers from that point on. Second, this is just a marketing ploy for the law firm that is teaching the class. The students will pay through the nose to learn very little in a simplistic area of law and the law firm gets to tell clients that they are experts in an area of law that the client does not know is extremely simple.
Imminent domain? Is that when a property is near?
@UH law alum –
I agree that it is advertising for the firm, but it would still be an interesting 2-3 hour seminar (speaking as an attorney who did not regularly practice eminent domain law, but was involved in a couple of cases of it). There are all kinds of valuation issues (e.g., pipeline corridor, remainder of the property, increase in value of remainder of the property from the construction of the public project, value of street-side of property versus rear of property, division of the property) as well as constitutional restrictions. There are also interesting procedural aspects (the notice requirements, administrative hearing matters, appeals, etc.), and there are special issues for commercial tenants, such as relocation, valuation of terminated leases, and negotiating a the eminent domain provisions of a commercial lease. And, this does not even include inverse condemnation, which is almost totally made up of case law.
This definitely is not a first-year core class, but there are plenty of sub-specialties of law that have their own classes (I took seminars in life & health insurance law, and asylum law).
Eminent domain can be tricky now that the legislatures have become active after the USC held that private development can meet a public purpose. In Texas, the legislature has restricted the ability of state and local governments to use eminent domain for private development. But there have been fights over whether pipeline companies are really “common carriers” and other issues have come up where the line between a public and private purpose gets blurry. Eminent domain courses are nothing new at law schools. And UHLC is one of the most affordable law schools in the country. The PR release from the law firm is a bit much, but better have a real practitioner teach the course than someone who walked out of Harvard Law and right into academia.
well, I still think it’s ridiculous but then again the entire third year of law school is a joke full
of courses you will never use. Really anything past third semester is useless.