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What legal and ethical issues do you see exhibited in the parties’ behavior? Did the parties act legally? Did they act ethically?

This project is designed to get you thinking about your own habits as it relates to contracts and agreements, by way of in-depth analysis of seven cases from at least five different chapters of Contracts in the Real World, by Lawrence Cunningham. My ultimate goal is for you to think about and describe what motivates people to either perform or breach contracts, and how those motivations play out in your own life. In other words, this project requires you to do as much personal reflection as it does research.

Specific Expectations

As you read Contracts in the Real World, hopefully some of the cases described by the author stick out to you as being noteworthy, interesting, or even humorous. Sometimes, when we read about the legal troubles of famous people, we come away from those stories thinking, “wow, famous people sure do some dumb things.” In fact, famous people are fairly typical when it comes to legal problems: they may be amazing athletes, entertainers, or entrepreneurs, but at their legal core, they are ordinary people with ordinary (even mundane) legal issues they have to address. Like everyone else, they enter into contracts and then find themselves struggling to perform.

For this project, I want you to pick seven cases described in the book from five different chapters. For each case, perform additional outside research on the case. This additional outside research should include basic internet research that might reveal the following: media stories about the case, judicial opinions, the pleadings (in some instances), scholarly commentary about a few cases, etc. There is no required amount of outside research, but I expect you to do enough additional research that you demonstrate you have a sufficiently well-developed understanding of the cases that is greater than what is presented in the Cunningham book.

Once you have performed the outside research for your seven chosen cases, answer the following questions for each case:

1. What legal and ethical issues do you see exhibited in the parties’ behavior? Did the parties act legally? Did they act ethically?

2. Based on your outside research, how well has Cunningham summarized the cases for inclusion in his book? Did he leave out important details? If so, how would those details change the analysis in his book?

3. What sort of daily habits often give rise to the behaviors described in the cases you have chosen to analyze?  (In other words, much of our contract behavior arises from habituation, not conscious volitional decision making.)

4. What sort of motivations cause people to act the way the parties in these cases acted?

5. How, if at all, would you have behaved differently than the parties in each case?


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