Public Utility Regulation Seminar

Section 1, Spring 23

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 14/15
Credits: 3
Days* Time Room Start Date End Date
  • W
  • 1540-1740
  • WB116
01/25/2023 04/26/2023
*“R” means Thursday

Course Description

The idea of the public utility has gained renewed attention over the last several years. This regulatory model, which first rose to prominence in the 19th century before waning in influence towards the end of the 20th century, has popped up in recent conversations about how to address a range of modern problems, from the regulation of internet platforms to the concentration of market power in financial and technology firms to climate change and the decarbonization of the electricity grid. This course is intended to introduce students to the theories behind the public utility—both historically and in its new iterations. Students will learn about public utility regulation as the precursor to much of modern administrative law. We will review early debates over the form and function of public utility regulation from prominent scholars like Louis Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, David Lilienthal, and Robert Hale, and their conception of public utility regulation as not just a tool of economic regulation but also a democracy-enforcing mechanism. We will then review important critiques of the public utility that emerged from the Chicago School in the late 20th century, many of which were fueled by stark examples of the failures of public utility regulation in the public sphere. The last part of the course will discuss the nascent revival of interest in the public utility model. Students will interrogate these new versions of public utility regulation and assess how well they respond to both the model’s historical shortcomings and the new problems it might address.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Final Type (if any): None
Description: None

Written Work Product
Written Work Product: Students will have the option of writing one substantial research paper (due via EXPO by noon on the last day of the exam period) or a few shorter papers throughout the semester (deadlines TBD). Students planning to use a paper in this class for their Upper-Level Writing Requirement must submit an Upper-Level Writing Requirement "Special Request" Form to the Student Records Office by Feb. 27th. The form is available via LawWeb. Retroactive exceptions will not be granted.

Other Work

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: None Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: No
First Day Attendance Required: No
Course Resources: To be announced.
Course Notes:

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: No
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*If “Yes,” then students are required to submit a substantial research paper in this course, which means students do not need to submit any form to SRO for this paper to meet their upper-level writing requirement. If “No,” then students must submit a “special request” e-form to SRO (available via LawWeb) no later than five weeks after the start of the term for a paper in this class to be counted toward the upper-level writing requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens: Friday, April 21, 12:01 AM
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: Sunday, April 30, 11:59 PM