Overheard in Contracts Class: The Wrong Answer

–From John Schrier, University of Maryland School of Law, Date of event: 1980

The discussion of Socratic moments reminded me of a funny moment during Contracts I with Professor Young, back in 1980 at University of Maryland–Baltimore. Professor Young was grilling my classmate and apartment-mate on the facts of one case or another, trying to elicit some of the more basic principles of how a court will interpret the terms of a contract.

Having observed my buddy on a date the preceding evening, it came as no surprise that he was less than fully informed about the case under discussion. Pressing the point that contract terms will be construed against the drafting party, the professor asked: “And please tell us, Mr. F., who did draft the contract?”

While my apartment-mate was struggling to think of the answer, I couldn’t resist joking to another classmate, “The lawyers.” Unfortunately, I hadn’t expected that my desperate apartment-mate would overhear my joke and blurt it out in class as the answer to the question! He got a loud roar from the class and I got bathroom-cleaning duty for a week.

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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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