Fall 2018

Prof. Klerman

Items that have changed recently are highlighted in green.


PILF Auction description





I will be organizing lunches with small groups of students. Sign-up sheets will be availble in class. Lunches are in Rm. 431 (Dean's Dining Room, near the southeast corner of the building) and will usually take place on Fridays starting at 1PM. Discussion need not be limited to Property. In fact, I hope it's not. To preserve an informal atmosphere, I will limit lunch to 10 students. Please bring your lunch or purchase it before 1PM.


Because I will be posting an audio recording of each class as well as my PowerPoint Slides and model answers, it may be tempting to skip class. To counteract that temptation, class attendance is mandatory.

Class Participation

Participation in class discussion is an essential part of the learning process, because it helps you get more comfortable with public speaking and thinking on your feet, and because lisenting carefully to answers provided by fellow students helps you see things from different perspectives. My empahsis on class participation and writing (below) reflects my view that students learn most when they actively engage rather than passively read and listen.  This view goes back at least to Benjamin Franklin, who wrote, "“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”  I will call on students randomly, whether they volunteer to answer a particular question or not. I will sometimes ask for volunteers.  If you are particularly anxious about being called on in class, please talk to me so that we can find a way to make you more comfortable.

Email Me If You Will be Absent or Unprepared

If you are unprepared for class or you know you will be absent, please e-mail me at well before class begins (at least 15 minutes, and preferably the night before). It is better for everyone if I do not call on someone who is absent or unprepared.  If you email me for this purpose, please put "Property" in the subject line so that I know to read your email before class begins.

Laptops and Other Screens

Devices with screens -- laptops, tablets, cellphones, eReaders, iPads, Kindles, and similar devices --- may not be used during class for notes or for any other purpose. While in class, please focus on thinking, not note taking. To make most note taking unnecessary, I will distribute my PowerPoint slides and post an audio recording of each class.

Audio Recordings
Audio recordings of every class will be posted soon after the relevant class has ended.  To access recordings, log onto Blackboard and click on “Recordings” in the left panel.  You do not need to ask permission from me to access recordings


Model Answers
Model answers to all class writing assignments will be distributed after all question have been discussed in class. Distribution will use Hogo, a secure document sharing and distribution service.  I wrote these model answers myself.   Model answers cannot be printed, downloaded, or shared.  This enables me to reuse questions from year-to-year, and ensure that no students have an unfair advantage through access through answers to the prior year's questions. Even if you figure out how to defeat Hogo's security provisions, please do not share model answers with students in future classes or anyone else.  Giving answers to future students will not really help them (because they will not have the benefit of learning the material themselves) and will cause unfairness.

Blackboard Quizzes

For many classes, I will post some multiple-choice questions to Blackboard.  They are in the "assignments" section of Blackboard. These questions are to help you learn the material. They are required, but I do not plan to include your scores in your grades. Nevertheless, please note that I can see if you have completed the quizz and how you did. If I find that a substantial number of students are not completing the Blackboard quizzes or are not taking them seriously, I reserve the right to start including Blackboard quizz grades in your final grade. If I do so, I will announce the change in class, and only quizzes taken after the announcement will count toward your grade. After you “submit” your answer to each question, please be sure to click on “ok” in the lower right hand corner to “review results.” This will tell you if you got the right answer, and it will provide an explanation of the legal reasoning behind the correct answer. This feedback is a key part of why I am putting questions on Blackboard. I want you to get feedback on the easy questions (the ones I put on Blackboard) before you tackle the harder questions (the ones we will discuss in class).

Newspapers and Public Radio

If you don't already do so, I strongly encourage you to start keeping up with current events by subscribing to a daily newspaper and/or listening to public radio. As a lawyer, you need to understand business, politics and culture in order to understand your clients' problems and perspectives. In addition, such understanding will help you interview better for jobs, make you a better citizen, and make you a more interesting conversation partner at parties and other events. As a student, you are eligible for substantial discounts. In particular, I recommend:

The Wall Street Journal. $1 per week print and digital subscription.

The New York Times. $1 per week web and smartphone subscription.

KPCC. 89.3 FM. online at Free mobile apps.

Note also that, if you are planning to live in a different city after graduation, you can listen to the public radio station(s) for that city on the web and via free mobile apps. That way you can get relevant local as we well as national and international news. Many cities' newspapers are also available online, but local newspapers are not a substitute for national newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

Limited Circulation of Class Materials
Class materials, including model answers, PowerPoint Slides and audio recordings, are for use by Fall 2018 Property students only. You may not share them with future Property students or anyone else. Doing so would be a violation of both USC Law School rules and copyright law. The purpose of this policy is to preserve my ability to reuse some questions in future classes. If model answers, PowerPoint Slides, audio recordings, or other class materials are shared with next year's class, students with access to those materials will have an unfair advantage and will be deprived of the benefit of working out the answers themselves.

Reading Ahead

I do not recommend reading ahead, because each reading builds upon the prior class's discussion. So, if, for example, you try to do both Monday's and Friday's readings over the weekend, you will not be able to fully comprehend Friday's readings, because you will not yet have had the benefit of Monday's class discussion.  If you have extra time, I suggest you review rather than read ahead. If, because of special circumstances, you need to read ahead, please let me know and I will give you the assignment in advance.  If your need to read ahead is related to a disability for which confidentiality is desired, please contact the appropriate administrator so that your request can be transmitted to me anonymously.


Unless specifically stated, I neither expect nor encourage you to do legal research when preparing for my class.  Legal research is a very important skill, but it is not a significant part of this class.  When I assign questions, I expect you to answer them based on class materials.  Even when I give you a question that is based on a real case, I discourage you from trying to find the case upon which the question was based. I discourage research for three reasons.  (1) I may have changed the facts of a case, so the reasoning in the case may not be applicable to the question I have asked.  (2) In class, I am seldom looking for a single right answer.  Rather, I am hoping that you will discover several plausible ways of addressing the legal issue. If you find a case on point, you may find one plausible answer to my question, but not other plausible answers.  (3) The key goal of this class (and most of your legal education) is to help you learn how to make good legal arguments on your own.  If you find legal arguments through research, you won't develop the skills you need to formulate your own legal arguments. For similar reasons, I discourage you from trying to consult materials from prior years of my class (and former students are forbidden to share them with you).

Prof. Klerman's Office Hours

Fridays noon-1PM

Office hours will start in Rm. 101 and move to my Office (Rm. 460) around 12:15. If I am not in my office, check Rm 101 and vice versa.

Other times by appointment.

I will also try to answer as many questions as possible in the classroom immediately after each class, unless I have a conflicting obligation. Unfortunately, I run the Center for Law & Social Science (CLASS) workshops, which start Mondays at noon, so I will not be able to stay after class on Mondays.

Note that office hours are canceled when that day's class is canceled (e.g. 11/9). Make-up office hours may be announced.

Teaching Assistant Office Hours

Thursdays 12:30-1:30 in Library Study Room 307A.

You can also email a TA to schedule a meeting, (See below)


Teaching Assistant Names and Email Addresses

Chrissie Cheung.

Ben Reinach.

Nate Sussman.

Prof. Klerman's Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-7973
Fax: (213) 740-5502
Office: Room 460
Mailbox: Room 305

Prof. Klerman's Assistant, Chris Emerson


Phone: 213 740 2099

Office: Rm. 444

Note that Chris Emerson is not a law student.  He is a full-time USC employee.  In some places, he might be called a secretary.

Class Schedule and Materials

The topics to be covered in each class are tentative and subject to change at any time (with adequate notice, of course). Note that class on Fridays will go until 4PM (not 3:50).  This will obviate the need to schedule a make-up class for 9/10. The review class will make-up for 11/9.  


Class #

Date Topic Slides Model Answers Handouts
1 M 8/20 Johnson v M'Intosh P01 P01M Finders
2 F 8/24 Possession I: Finders P02 P02M Bailments
3 M 8/27 Possession II: Bailments P03 P03M

Good Faith Purchasers


Demsetz summary

4 F 8/31 Possession III. Good Faith Purchasers P04 P04M Adverse Possession
  M 9/3 No USC Law Classes. Labor Day      
5 F 9/7 Possession IV. Adverse Possession P05 P05M Right to Exclude
  M 9/10 Class Canceled      
6 F 9/14 Right to Exclude P06 P06M Nuisance
7 M 9/17 Neghbors I: Nuisance I P07 P07M Email me for copies


F 9/21 Neighbors II: Nuisance II P08 P08M Easements
9 M 9/24 Neighbors III: Easements P09 P09M Covenants


F 9/28 Neighbors IV: Covenants P10 P10M

Intellectual Property

Polinsky on Coase

Altman Video on Calabresi

11 M 10/1 Intellectual Property P11 P11M Body Parts
12 F 10/5 Property in Body Parts P12 P12M


Altman Video on Future Interests

13 M 10/8 Future Interests I: Classification P13 P13M

Jee v Audley

RAP Questions

Altman Video on RAP

14 F 10/12 Future Interests II: Rule against Perpetuities P14 P14M Leases I
15 M 10/15 Leases I: Classification, Assignments, Subleases P15 P15M Leases II
16 F 10/19 Leases II: Habitability, Fair Housing P16 P16M Prop 10 & Rent Control
17 M 10/22 Leases III: Rent Control P17 P17M Land Transactions
18 F 10/26 Land Transactions I: Sales Agreements & Deeds P18 P18M

Recording Problems

Altman video on recording.wmv

Altman video on recording .mov

19 M 10/29 Land Transactions II: Recording P19 P19M Mortgages
20 F 11/2 Land Transactions III: Mortgages P20





M 11/5 Co-Ownership P21 P21M Marital Property
  F 11/9 Class Canceled      
22 M 11/12 Marital Property P22 P22M Takings
23 F 11/16 Takings I. Physical Intrusions P23 P23M Takings II
24 M 11/19 Takings II. Regulations P24 P24M Takings III
  F 11/23 No USC Law Classes.  Thanksgiving Break      
25 M 11/26 Takings III. Conditions P25 P25M


De Soto

26 F 11/30 Ellickson and De Soto P26 P26M

2017 Altman Spring Exam

2017 Altman Fall Exam

  Sa 12/8 TA-led Review Class. 10AM-noon. Rm. 3      
27 M 12/10

Review Class. 10AM-noon. Rm. 101




Writing Assignments


I plan to assign short, graded writing assignments for each class. These assignments serve three very important functions. (1) Writing helps you think more clearly. (2) These writing assignments are good practice for exams. (3) These writing assignments are good practice for the writing you will be doing in your legal careers. 


My assistant, Chris Emerson, will email you your writing group number.  The Syllabus and/or PowerPoint slides explaining the assignment will state which writing group should do which question(s).

These writing assignments will be short. You will be responsible for roughly one question per class. Sometimes you will be responsible for two or three questions. Sometimes you will be reponsible for zero questions.  If you have written one, thoughtful, single-spaced page (with reasonable font and margins), you may stop and receive full credit, even if you have not fully answered the assigned question or questions.  If you answer the assigned question(s) thoughtfully in less than one pages, that is also fine. You are also free to write more than one page. In fact, I encourage you to write more than one page, if you think you need more than one page to throroughly answer the assigned question(s), although that will rarely be necessary. However, if you are pressed for time, you may stop when you have written one page.  That is, you are required to either (a) answer the question(s) thoughtfully (whether that takes less than one page or more than two page), or (b) write at least one thoughtful page (even if you don't fully answer the question(s)). I don't expect polished prose. I just want to ensure that you are thinking carefully about the issues.

When you submit your writing assignments, please use the following format for the document name:


[Last name][First name][Group number][Number of class for which assignment is due][Short description of assignment]


So, if I was in writing group 1 and was turning in the assignment for the first class on questions relating to Johnson v.M'Intosh, the document would be named:




Using this naming convention will make it much easier for the TAs to keep track of your assignments.

Writing assignments should be submitted in Microsoft Word format by 1:45PM to Blackboard. To submit through Blackboard, log on to Blackboard through the portal or by typing in your browser's address box. Select the course (Property), navigate to “Assignments” (left-hand navigation pane), and locate that day’s writing assignment. Upload your assignment in Microsoft Word format and click “Submit.”  You will not receive a confirmation email, but you can confirm the assignment was submitted successfully by returning to the assignment’s page on Blackboard.


You may discuss the questions with classmates (and, indeed, I encourage you to do so), but assignments must be written up independently. You may not consult persons who have taken Property before. You may not research any of the assignments. You must do them solely by consulting class materials. The only other source you may consult is a legal dictionary or regular dictionary. You you may NOT use the internet to research the law or find cases that you think are relevant. You may not consult any materials prepared by me for a prior year's class nor any materials prepared by former Property students. At the bottom of each assignment, please type:


I have not consulted any materials other than those assigned for this class and a dictionary.

Writing assignments will be read and commented on by the class TA. He or she will also pass along to me papers which he thinks either (a) do not show adequate effort or (b) show outstanding understanding of the materials. Grades of those who, in my opinion, submit papers not showing adequate effort may be decreased, while grades of those who, in my opinion, submit outstanding papers may be increased. You may skip four writing assignments assigned to your group without permission or making them up. In addition to answering questions assigned to your writing group, you are encouraged to answer questions assigned to other writing groups, because you will learn by writing out the answers and from the feedback the TA provides.  If you turn in answers to questions not assigned to your writing group, you will get a small amount of extra credit. 

For writing assignment grades, click HERE to open the link and find your writing group number at the bottom of the spreadsheet.  To preserve anonymity, your grade is listed according to the webnumber my assistant, Chris Emerson, will have emailed you.

If you turn in only answers to the required questions, you will probably get a 7. If one of your answers is outstanding, you will receive a 9.  If more than one of your answers is outstanding, you will receive 2 extra points for each additional outstanding answer. If your answer to a required question is missing or shows inadequate effort (which is rare), you will get a 0. 


If you turn in answers to all the questions (required and mandatory), will will probably get an 8. If one of your answers is outstanding, you will receive a 10. If more than one of your answers is outstanding, you will receive two extra points for each additional outstanding answer.  If your answers to the mandatory questions show inadequate effort (which is rare), you will get a 0. 

If no required questions were assigned, but you turn in answers to answers to all optional questions, you will probably get a 4.  You will get a 6 if one of your answers was outstanding.  If more than one of your answers is outstanding, you will receive two extra points for each additional outstanding answer. You will get an "N" if your your writing shows inadequate effort.

If you turn in answers to the required questions and some, but not all, optional questions, your paper will be graded as though you had turned in answers only to required questions, except you have more chances to get a 9 or more, because there are more answers that might be outstanding.  Turning in answers to optional questions is also worthwhile, even if you do not answer all the optional quesitons, because you will learn from writing out your answers and from feedback from the TAs, and because you have the opportunity to earn two or more points from outstanding answers.

If no required questions were assigned, but you turn in answers to some, but not all, optional questions, you will probably receive an N.  If one of your answers is outstanding, you will receive a 2.  If more than one of your answers is outstanding, you will receive two extra points for each additional outstanding answer. Turning in answers to optional questions is also worthwhile, even if you do not answer all the optional quesitons, because you will learn from writing out your answers and from feedback from the TAs, and because you have the opportunity to earn two or more points from outstanding answers.

If you fail to turn in a required assignment by the beginning of class, you will receive a zero.

If you turn in an assignment late (but before class begins), that will be noted. If it happens frequently, points will be deducted from your writing grade.

If your failure to turn in a required assignment is excused by me, you will receive an E.

Note that TAs are instructed to give count as "outstanding" only the best answers to a question.  Also, answers to questions that are easy (and therefore that nearly everyone answers equally well) cannot count as "outstanding."





Statement on Academic Conduct and Support Systems

[This is an official USC statement, not written by Professor Klerman]


Academic Conduct:

Plagiarism – presenting someone else’s ideas as your own, either verbatim or recast in your own words – is a serious academic offense with serious consequences. Please familiarize yourself with the discussion of plagiarism in SCampus in Part B, Section 11, “Behavior Violating University Standards”  Other forms of academic dishonesty are equally unacceptable. See additional information in SCampus and university policies on scientific



Support Systems:

Student Counseling Services (SCS) - (213) 740-7711 – 24/7 on call

Free and confidential mental health treatment for students, including short-term psychotherapy, group counseling, stress fitness workshops, and crisis intervention.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255

Provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Relationship & Sexual Violence Prevention Services (RSVP) - (213) 740-4900 - 24/7 on call

Free and confidential therapy services, workshops, and training for situations related to gender-based harm.


Sexual Assault Resource Center

For more information about how to get help or help a survivor, rights, reporting options, and additional resources, visit the website:


Office of Equity and Diversity (OED)/Title IX compliance – (213) 740-5086

Works with faculty, staff, visitors, applicants, and students around issues of protected class.


Bias Assessment Response and Support

Incidents of bias, hate crimes and microaggressions need to be reported allowing for appropriate investigation and response.


Student Support & Advocacy – (213) 821-4710

Assists students and families in resolving complex issues adversely affecting their success as a student EX: personal, financial, and academic.


Diversity at USC –

Tabs for Events, Programs and Training, Task Force (including representatives for each school), Chronology, Participate, Resources for Students



(1) Email my assistant, Chris Emerson, by 9AM Friday morning, August 17. 

The subject line should read: Property webnumber

The body of the email should have two pieces of information

1. The first name you would like me to use in class.  For example, if your first name is "Michael," put "Mike" if you would like me to use that nickname or "Michael" if you would like me to use your formal name.

2. A phonetic guide to any part or parts of your name that are hard to pronounce. For example, I might write, "Klerman rhymes with turban."

Chris will email you back with your writing group and web #.  For an explanation of your writing group and web #, see "Writing Assignments" below.

   (2) Please make sure that you received an email from me Tuesday evening, August 14, at your address.  If you did not receive an email from me, please contact USC Law Computing Help to resolve the issue. More generally, please make sure that you have set up your email so that you can easily check your account at least once a day.  Not infrequently, I send clarifications or modifications of assignments through email, and it is important that you receive such emails.  More generally, although you may prefer texting or social media for personal communication, email remains the standard for professional and business communication, so it is a good idea to get used to checking your email regularly. 

 (3) There are no books that you need to buy for this class.  All required materials will be available on this webpage.  I do, however, strongly recommend that you purchase Burke & Snoe, Property: Examples & Explanations (5th edition). I found out today (August 15), that the USC Bookstore does not have this book, even though I placed an order for it some time ago.  In addition, the book store does not know when it will receive a shipment.  I suggest that you purchase the book through Amazon ($33.91 new, $15.00 or less used; $12.57 rental) Barnes & Noble ($41.55 new; $12.37 used through "Marketplace"; $10.43 rental) or from some other seller.  Please make sure you get the most recent edition, which is the 5th. 

  (4) Click here to download Johnson v. M'Intosh and related materials. Read the materials and think carefully the questions 1-12 on pages 8-9.  These are questions that we will discuss in class on Monday.  It might be helpful to read the questions before reading the case.  I encourage you to discuss the questions with your classmates. Make sure you understand all the technical terms mentioned in the case.  For example, what do the terms "plaintiff," "defendant," and "ejectment" mean? Legal dictionaries, such as Black's Law Dictionary, will help. The library has a hard copy of Black's.

   (5) Questions 1-12 on the last pages of the document with Johnson v. M'Intosh are an optional writing assignment.  If you would like, you can type out your answers and submit them using Blackboard..  Typing out your answers will help you prepare for class, help you learn the material better, and earn you a small amount of extra credit.  You will also benefit from feedback from the TA. See instructions below (under the heading "Writing Assignments") for how to submit a writing assignment.

   (6) Read this webpage carefully and make sure you understand all class policies.  We will not review them in class, but you are responsible for all of the information, rules and policies on this page.

   (7) Take the Blackboard quizzes labeled "Administrative Q1," "Administative Q2" through "Administrative Q5."  Each "quiz" is one question, so there are 5 questions.  They are easy and relate to the class policies on this webpage. (See (6) above). For instructions and information on Blackboard quizzes, see below under the heading "Blackboard Quizzes."