River of law II: Duty of architects to third parties

Nancy J. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


No doubt law and the American legal system are mysterious to those not routinely associated with it. The law and the American legal system are a process - a process whereby the law is debated and tested by different courts, eventually being hammered out after much trial and error, no pun intended. Perhaps therein lies the mystery: that law is a continually changing process, not some type of "truth" or "rule" or even some concrete thing. Like all processes, it is alive and continues to grow and develop and become more complex. It does not often stand very still for us to study. What we study today may not exist tomorrow. Law has most of the characteristics of a living system. That is, it grows, develops, and gives birth to new law. The process needed to develop a particular law may span decades, even hundreds of years. People who try to "learn" the law to use it to their advantage or to gain an understanding of the regulatory environment of business, are doomed to failure. Only people who learn the legal process can succeed in understanding the law and putting it to work for them. This article explains in basic terms the legal system in operation in the United States and provides an interactive project designed to facilitate an understanding of the American legal system and the process by which law is developed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-173
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Architectural Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 1999
Externally publishedYes


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