Professor Craig Lawson

Craig M. Lawson Professor of Law Emeritus

Digital Commons


Professor Lawson joined the faculty in 1978. Born in 1948, he received his B.A. from Yale University in 1970 (French) and his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of Law in 1974. At Hastings, he was Executive Editor of the Hastings Law Journal. He was admitted to the California State Bar in 1974 and practiced with a San Francisco law firm from 1974 to 1976. During the 1977-78 academic year, he was a teaching fellow at the University of Illinois College of Law at Urbana-Champaign.

Professor Lawson directs the first-year Legal Writing Program, coordinating the work in it, and lecturing. His main course is first-year Torts. He also teaches Advanced Torts, three electives in Health Law (Law and Medicine, Bioethics and the Law, the Law of Provider and Patient) and two advanced electives in legal writing (Style and Composition in Legal Writing, and Law & Literature). In 2011, Professor Lawson won the Alumni Council's Distinguished Faculty award.

Professor Lawson is an avid reader, especially in the humanities and the arts (literature - especially lyric poetry - and literary criticism, philosophy, art history and art criticism) and in medicine and the life sciences. He's a self-taught, amateur guitar picker (VERY amateur). When he has the time to couch potato, he favors movies over Monday-night football. He leads a relatively sedentary existence, although he will climb on a mountain bike, when he needs to get his blood moving. When he comes out of the closet, he admits to being an unreconstructed 1960s liberal. He is married to an actress, and has two grown children (one an actress in New York City; the other an out-of-work geologist in Southern California).


Advanced Torts Law 643/G (1-4 cr hr)
Selected topics in tort law. Advanced class in tort law, considering the general legal theory of tort, as well as specific topics not studied in detail during the required first-year torts class. May include tort claims other than the intentional torts, negligence, and products liability--i.e., defamation, nuisance, privacy, abuse of legal process, interference with advantageous relationships, tort claims implied from statutes, the prima facie tort, and others. May also include topics relating to the functioning of tort law in social context--e.g., the efficiency with which tort litigation accomplishes its apparent purpose, alternative legal mechanisms to reduce risk or promote safety, alternative systems of compensating for harms, legislative tort reform initiatives, and others.

Bioethics and Law Law 684/G (1-4)
Role of law in controlling, shaping, and responding to scientific and technological developments in the field of medicine and the biological sciences. May include contraception, abortion, sterilization, artificial conception, genetic engineering, the right to refuse treatment, euthanasia, the right to treatment of defective newborns, organ transplantation, and experimentation with human subjects.

Law and Literature Law 712/G (1-4 cr hr)
Interdisciplinary study of the relations between law and literature, exploring the law in literature and the law as literature. The law in literature: Novelists, poets, and playwrights have seen the human interest in the law and in legal events; the law and lawyers have therefore been central to some major works of literature. Examines ways the law and lawyers have appeared in literature, and attempts to draw some lessons from them. The law as literature: Primary and secondary writing in the law employs most of the literary devices found in the imaginative literatures, and the tools of literary interpretation and analysis can therefore be brought to bear on legal texts. Exploring the literary aspects of the law, and deriving practical and theoretical insights from this exploration.

Law and Medicine Law 703/G (1-4 cr hr)
Major topics at the intersection of law and medicine in America today. Most relate to the legal implications of health care quality and cost, to the legal implications of access to health care, or to issues in the area of bioethics. In particular, time devoted to the organization and legal credentialling of health care providers, individual and institutional; to medical malpractice law and its reform; to legal mechanisms of cost-control in health care delivery; to publicly-subsidized health care for the needy; and to the medicolegal issues surrounding morally controversial topics in modern medicine, such as issues relating to facilitating or avoiding reproduction, to the right to treatment, to the right to refuse treatment, to yet other issues.

Law of Provider and Patient Law 737/G (1-4 cr hr)
Students may also enroll in LAW 713G Style and Composition in Legal Writing for an additional hour of Law College credit. A limited but central topic in the larger field of health-care law-the law bearing on the relationship between a health-care provider and a patient. Surveys the legal rights and obligations of patients and their health care providers, individual and institutional. Covering qualification as a health care provider (institutional and individual licensure); the legal doctrines relating to the formation of provider-patient relationship; the locus of decisional authority in the relationship; the provider's fiduciary duties to the patient (to deliver care of professionally acceptable quality [including traditional malpractice law], to avoid conflicts of interest, to respect the patient's privacy, and to protect the confidentiality of medical information about the patient); the reciprocal obligation of the patient to take reasonable steps to assure payment and to comply with medical directives; and the legal doctrines relating to the termination of provider-patient relationships.

Legal Profession Law 790/G (1-4 cr hr)
This course meets the faculty's requirement for a course in professional responsibility. A systematic study of the principles of professional responsibility governing the practice of law in the United States.

Products Liability Law 755/G (3 cr hr)
An in-depth study of the common law and statutory systems regulating liability for product-caused injuries. Private causes of action are the focus of the class, but they may also be contrasted with administrative regulations which govern the sale and distribution of products.

Style and Composition in Legal Writing Law 713/G (1-4 cr hr)
Skills course. Requires as much practical writing as reading and study. Discusses various causes of poor legal writing-legal writing that is unnecessarily difficult to read-and attempts to understand what constitutes good legal writing, and what makes it work. Focuses on developing clarity, coherence, and concision in legal writing. Students should develop a better understanding of the linguistic causes of good and bad legal writing, and a set of concrete writing tools for the improvement of their own writing.

Torts I & II Law 503/G (EDAD *874) & 504/G (EDAD *875) (1-6 cr hr, max 6 per class)
Legal protection afforded in civil proceedings against interference with the security of one's person, property, relations, and other intangible interests. Substantive principles that govern tort claims (ranging from claims for intentional wrongdoing, to negligence claims, to claims that the defendant is strictly liable for harms caused to the plaintiff), and the theoretical bases and practical implications of such claims.


The Puzzle of Intended Harm in the Tort of Battery,  74 Temple Law Review 355 (Summer 2001)

Advancing the Rights of Children and Adolescents to be Altruistic: Bone Marrow Donation by Minors,  Journal of Law and Health (fall 1995) with Robbennolt and Weisz





J.D., 1974, University of California, Hastings College of Law
B.A., French, 1970, Yale University

Areas of Expertise


Professor of Law, 1988
Associate Professor of Law, 1982
Assistant Professor of Law, 1978