New Social Sciences Course: The American Legal System

A new social sciences course entitled The American Legal System is being offered this fall. No prerequisites are required! It will meet once a week on Tuesdays from 6:25–9:05 pm.

PS 285-002 The American Legal System

The purpose of this course is to provide the student with a basic understanding of the law and the American legal system, including an introduction to basic legal concepts, principles and procedures. The course covers foundations of the legal system, substance of the law, the legal process, and legislative and administrative developments. We will begin by examining the fundamental concepts and concerns of the law, the historical development of the American legal system from its English common law roots, structures of the American legal system and the legal profession. We will then study various areas of substantive law, including constitutional law, criminal law, torts, property law, contracts, business law and family law. Next, we will survey the procedural law, covering civil and criminal procedure, rules of evidence and the appellate process. Finally, we will examine two modern areas of law, including legislation and administrative law and procedure. Our study of each concept will focus on a recent piece of legal news or case highlighted in the media. Classes will be largely discussion-based.


This instructor for this course is Meghan Carlock Gonnissen, J.D., senior associate at Ford & Britton, P.C. She is a practicing attorney and trained mediator who specializes in civil rights law and insurance defense. Gonnissen has been teaching introductory law classes to undergraduates at IIT for three years and serves as the coach for the undergraduate moot court competitive team. An IIT alumna, she was an Honors Law student and received her B.S. in Political Science in 2003 and J.D. from IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law with a Certificate in Employment Law in 2005.