Neil Sobol article: Consumer Law for Gen Z Law Students

Neil L. Sobol of Texas A&M has written Consumer Law for Gen Z Law Students, 66 Arizona Law Review (2024). Here’s the abstract:

Whether they are consumers, representing consumers, or advising clients dealing with consumers, law school graduates will inevitably confront numerous consumer law issues. Moreover, most students entering law school are members of Generation Z and face a new wave of consumer laws arising from the 2007–2009 recession and the rapid growth of new technologies. Clickwrap agreements, email spoofing, cybercrimes, cryptocurrencies, fintech, identity theft, online disparagement, data privacy, artificial intelligence, robocalling, and autonomous vehicles are among the evolving topics in modern consumer law. Despite the growth in consumer law concerns, many law students have limited access to consumer law options, with almost 40% of law schools not offering any consumer law courses and less than 30% hosting consumer law clinics. Even where classes are taught, they are often not available annually.

Given the increasing importance of consumer law issues for Gen Z law students, this Article proposes a plan to develop and enhance consumer law options. As context for the plan and the current state of consumer law opportunities in law school, I briefly describe the history of consumer law and consumer education in the United States. The plan’s first stage suggests that professors explicitly identify consumer law connections in first-year courses, where consumer law topics regularly arise in property disputes, contract agreements, misrepresentations about products, manufacturing defects, and interstate sales. This Article provides traditional and contemporary examples of consumer law topics for professors to use in first-year courses. Providing students with a taste of consumer law issues early in their law school careers will make them more likely to demand additional consumer law options. Accordingly, this Article shows how law schools can satisfy this demand with upper-division classes, clinics, and externships. In addition, this Article recommends actions that students can take to promote consumer law at their schools. With a background in consumer law, students will be better prepared for issues they encounter personally and professionally, have more significant employment opportunities, and be able to participate in legislative and regulatory reform efforts. As a result, students, their prospective clients, and the broader community will benefit.



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