UI law professor establishes an online summer law school based on Seinfeld

Creator of “Yada Yada Law School” Gregory Shill said he wanted to offer an entertaining and educational outlet for people interested in learning law, through a 10-week online course centered on legal principles in the popular sitcom Seinfeld.


Ning Guo, News Reporter

University of Iowa Associate Professor Gregory Shill recently created “Yada Yada Law School” for the summer — a free program that provides law classes based on Seinfeld.

The 10-week law course will raise donations for the COVID-19 relief fund of Legal Services New York City, based on the location of Seinfeld, a popular television show and the inspiration for Yada Yada Law School.

With a total of 180 episodes, the sitcom Seinfeld references various areas of law and will serve as the main assignment for the online law school due to its comical yet relevant content for students interested in law, Shill said.

Because Seinfeld is a show from the ‘90s, Shill said he didn’t initially expect many students to sign up. Nearly 4,000 signatures on the program’s website and more than 2,000 views on YouTube have led him to use the success of the course as an opportunity to raise money for charity.

“We chose Legal Services NYC who have the COVID relief fund,” Shill said. “Hundreds of people individually donated, and we had one class so far.”

Shill said that in the past he wanted to form a discussion group of this nature to let more people interested in law school participate in it through a form of entertainment.

The global outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent social distancing restrictions gave Shill the chance to turn the long-simmering idea into a charitable ‘eudtainment’ project with some fellow law professors.

“I hope to interest people in law or law school, and I hope to show people that the law is everywhere,” said Sara Bronin, property-law professor at Yada Yada Law School.

Bronin said it’s been interesting to revisit Seinfeld, not just for its entertainment value, but also to teach appropriate legal principles drawn from its plot.

“But most importantly, I want [students] to have fun and enjoy thinking about how the law applies in everyday situations,” she said.

Shill said the program’s name, “Yada Yada,” comes from a very popular expression in the show — “Yada yada yada.”

“[In the show] it’s kind of a way to avoid talking about something that you don’t want to talk about,” he said. “It was a fun way to introduce the show.”

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Apart from studying Seinfeld, Yada Yada Law School will also tie real-life cases into its curriculum to show students courtroom procedure.

Evidence-law professor at Yada Yada Law school Derek Muller said the show adds humor to the lesson of learning what happened in various cases.

“The evidence in its best way is how we figure out the truth,” Muller said.

Muller, who teaches campaign finance at Pepperdine Law School, will teach law at the UI in fall 2020.

Shill said that Yada Yada Law School may continue in summer 2021 if it is successful enough this year.

“We’ll like to continue it…” Shill said. “There’s a potential to.”