• Jennifer

Whatever Happened to Blackacre? Pop Culture-Inspired Problem Solving Questions


I stand proud as a second-generation geek and parent of third generation geeks. I fly my geek flag high and embrace my nerdiness with gusto.

I am torn however, when well meaning or completely evil lecturers devise hypothetical scenarios for assignments or exams with what I like to call cross over appeal. They hijack our beloved pop culture icons and prey on the fandom of law students to lure us into traps, confuse us, or better yet try to claim that the assignment is now “fun”.

I recently read a Land Law assignment where the disputes were between Khaleesi and Baratheon, Greyjoy, and Stark and there was a poor soul who knew nothing called Jon Snow.

I once sat a Contract Law exam that asked us to sort out (non-magical) contracts between Harry, Ron, Ginny, Hermione, Minerva and Albus. I did include a little bit of cheeky geekiness in my answer and added a short paragraph or two on how magical law would of course need to be taken into account and overtures ought to be made to the Ministry of Magic to find out their feelings on the disputes at hand. I know it didn’t get me extra marks but I like to think I made the marker smile, and a smiling marker is a more generous marker, I hope.

A competition law assignment written by a favourite lecturer of mine was based on the premise that Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and Howard opened competing comic book stores after initially opening one together. By all accounts there was a falling out after Sheldon acted neurotically, and Leonard went off to work for Raj after signing a non-competition clause.

My family law exam was littered with references to the Simpsons characters, my criminal law exam featured the cast of The Sopranos, and I once read a sample instructions letter from the firm of Wolfram and Hart signed off by Xander Harris. How’s that for a cross over?

When it comes to these pop culture-inspired problem-solving questions I am always so confused and torn. Do I resist the urge to try for extra credit by basing part of my answer on the canon of the original material? Do I just be a good law student and work with the facts given? Can I truly stop myself from pointing out that The Shadow Proclamation obviously would have jurisdiction rather than the High Court?

Whatever happened to Blackacre?

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