Comparative Law Final Exam

LAW 6250: Comparative Law (2-3 credits)
Professor Pedro A. Malavet
Fall 2007

Final Examination
(Posted: November 27, 2007)

The Exam GENERALLY. This exam is TAKE-HOME AND FULLY open-book. You may consult any materials you deem appropriate. PROVIDED HOWEVER THAT: Your work must be original. You may not show your written answer or a draft thereof to anyone, nor may you receive any assistance from anyone in writing the answer. You may not coordinate your answers with any classmate. I will not answer questions about the examination after our review session on Wednesday, November 28, 2007. However, should some important matter requiring clarification come up after the 28th, I will post a note about it in the website. 

PLAGIARISM. Your work must be original. Please take care to avoid plagiarism, which —in the era of electronic cutting-and-pasting— can happen remarkably easily. Putting material within quotation marks or otherwise properly identifying the source of text that someone else wrote is crucial. For a helpful definition of plagiarism, please see the St. Louis University School of Law Statement on Plagiarism, which includes the following: “Direct appropriation of another author’s words must be indicated by quotation marks, a block quotation or other formatting, and a footnote or other reference must identify the source from which the quoted material was taken.” (

DUE DATE. Your answer must be turned in to the Office of the Dean (the secretaries in the Dean’s office on the second floor of Holland Hall will be collecting take home examinations). Your answer must be turned in on or before THURSDAY, December 13, 2007 at 12:00 NOON. You may turn in your answer before the due date, at your discretion.

WHAT MUST BE TURNED IN?: You must turn in a printed copy of your exam answer. You can keep this exam, you only need to turn in your answer.

Print and Back-Up your work regularly. Because computers crash, disks get “fried,” and laptops get stolen, I urge you to be careful with your exam. Print drafts of your answers regularly and backup your work on a regular basis as well. One way to keep copies is to send e-mail to yourself with the exam attached.

Problems. In order to ensure the anonymity of grading, if you have any problems, please contact the Office of Student Affairs. Note that exam accommodation policies are implemented by the Office of Student Affairs and not by faculty. If you need to turn in your exam by electronic means such as fax or email attachment, you must arrange do so with the Office of Student Affairs and with the Office of the Dean. Under no circumstances should you send an exam answer directly to me.

Use Exam Numbers Only. Do not include your name in the answers, use your examination numbers only. Each page of your answers must bear your examination number.  Because the exams are collected by the Office of the Dean, be sure to include our course title, and my name on the first page of your answer, to ensure that the document is routed properly.

RULES. By turning in your answer, you certify that: (1) you have neither received nor given any aid beyond the allowed use of materials; (2) your work is original and is in no way improperly copied from or inappropriately influenced by any source; and (3) you have complied with all applicable instructions and rules, including, but not limited to, those set forth herein and in the University Student Code of Conduct and the College of Law Honor Code. Violation of the rules may result in a failing grade or a reduction thereof and in appropriate student disciplinary action.

ANSWER FORMAT. Your answer must be printed on letter-sized paper, in double spaced lines, with one (1) inch margins all around. Typeface should be 12-14 points.

TIME MANAGEMENT. I will hand out this exam on the last week of classes. I also want to afford you the choice of turning in your answer when it is most convenient to you, prior to the final due date. But this is not an invitation for you to engage in weeks of research and writing. This is one exam of the many you will take this semester. As a general guide, I would estimate that no more than three days should be spent in researching, drafting and revising your answer.


You are required to provide more comparative examples, details, and more analysis than would be required in a closed book, time-limited exam. This analysis should show your command of the material we addressed in class. In drafting your answers, please keep in mind that I want you to do at least four things:

1) Show that you have a command of the material we covered in class that is pertinent to your answer. To this end, provide references to our casebook, web postings, and to your notes of our class discussion. References should be simple and straight-forward. Page references to our materials should be identified by “CM” preceding the page number. The date of a class session is enough to identify your notes, the appropriate web-notes section may be identified as it is described in the syllabus.

2) Appropriately identify your sources in your answer. All sources must be identified and textual citations must be properly set-off within quotation marks or in block indents. Please be mindful of the plagiarism warning included earlier. Footnotes and parentheticals are allowed, but you may not use endnotes. You may use a bibliography to identify sources outside of our class materials as well.

3) Show that you can identify analogous American legal concepts and materials that are the proper subject of comparative analysis. This may require you to conduct some modest research outside our class materials. Please keep it simple. I believe that most research can be limited to your first-year casebooks and materials. However, you may use anything you deem appropriate including electronic research systems.

4) Finally, you should discuss the factual or legal factors disclosed by your research in a thoughtful and original manner that shows your command of the material related to our course. This last part is especially important if you wish to earn a high grade. Remember the themes, perspectives and emphasis of our class discussions.


LIMITED LENGTH. Overall, the exam answer cannot exceed 27,000 characters, including spaces, notes and parentheticals, though this does not include a bibliography, if you choose to submit one. You should not repeat the questions, just write an answer essay for each question. 27,000 characters is roughly equivalent to 15 handwritten pages at 1,800 characters per page. Be careful to include footnotes in your count. Please note that the two questions below require answers of different length. You must include a certification of length at the end of each answer using you word processor’s word-count feature. You shall certify character count with and without spaces, as well as word count.

With that in mind, please answer the following questions:

  • 1.     We studied the development of Patria Potestas. Please describe the initial meaning and evolution of the concept of Patria Potestas starting in Roman Law and ending with the Siete Partidas, the Spanish code we discussed in class. (3 pages, 5,400 characters).
  • 2.     In the context of the current constitutional systems of the United States and France, define, as to each system, “separation of powers” and “constitutionality review.” To the extent that each system may define these concepts differently, in theory or in practice, please explain the differences and the reasons therefor. (12 pages, 21,600 characters).