A Contracts Two-Fer

–From Name withheld upon request, Michigan State University College of Law, Date of events: Fall 2002

Here are two stories about our Contracts professor. The first situation was in Fall 2002, and the professor was talking about offer and acceptance. He used the example of college house painters who knock on your door and ask if they can paint your house. The professor gave several examples of what your response would be if it were your house and what that response constitutes.

For example, if the house painters say they’ll paint your house for $200, and you say, “OK, paint the house,” that constitutes an offer and acceptance. If the house painters say they’ll paint your house for $200, and you say “How about $150?”, that constitutes a offer and counteroffer.

He was using this quiz method on a girl in my class and when he got to the third example, the professor said, “The house painters come to your house and say they’ll paint it for $200. You say ‘Screw you!’ What does this constitute?” The girl said, “counteroffer”, and the class broke into laughter. The professor just stopped until the laughing subsided and while he laughed a little himself. He said that he wasn’t going to call on her for the rest of the semester. I’m not sure he followed through with that offer, though.

The second situation was in the same class with the same professor. Throughout the year, the professor liked to use a “panel” where three or so students would be called on for the entire class. There were a few students who he later put onto “permanent panel” if they weren’t prepared.

On this day, he was explaining how the system would work, and a kid walked in late to our lecture hall. The way the hall is designed is there are two doors that separate the middle of the room with a walkway –it’s stadium seating. The kid walked in late through one of the doors, and the professor said, “Well, it looks like you’ll be on the panel today.” The kid just shook his head and walked right through the other door.

The class started applauding, and the professor asked what his name was. No one told him. The professor just shook his head and continued with class.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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