Loading... Please wait...

Harvard Law School | The Case Studies Logo

The Case of the Smoking Tenant

 Joseph William Singer and Esme Caramello  
Product number:
December 2016
18 pages
Product Type:
Workshop-Based Case Study
Link to Faculty Author Page:
Educators / Non-Profits:
For-Profit Trainers:


This case involves counseling a client named Riley Bolton,  a landlord who owns five condos in one building in a twenty-building condominium complex in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bolton faces a dispute between two of his tenants, one of whom is his nephew. One tenant (Pat Knight) complains that another tenant (Casey Ayers) smokes both inside his apartment (which is directly below hers) and on the steps outside the building and that his smoking bothers her enormously. The situation is serious enough that Knight has moved out of the apartment and is staying in a hotel. She asks our client to evict Casey Ayers and to protect her from the smokers gathering outside the building. Knight has also complained to the condominium board, which is considering a smoking ban of some type for the complex.

The case was constructed in a way that involves a host of legal issues which run the gamut of all the first-year courses, including procedure, torts, contracts, property, criminal law, and regulatory/administrative law, as well as constitutional law.

There are three parts to this case. Part 1 gives students an introduction to the problem via a memo from a partner in the law firm. Part 1 also includes copies of Bolton’s lease with Knight. Part 2 includes a summary of the law relevant to the problem, and Part 3 includes a law journal article from Kathleen A. Bryan that gives students a theoretical framework with which to approach client-lawyer relationships.  

Learning Objectives

• Begin to develop a systematic approach to problem solving when faced with an unresolved issue or new situation, including identifying the relevant facts.
• Understand that more than one doctrinal area may apply to a given situation; learn the relation among these different sources of law and legal rights.
• Be able to identify and focus on the core issues to solve a client’s problem; learn how to avoid becoming bogged down in details of complex law and farfetched legal theories and focus on the central problem that a client needs addressed.
• Develop the ability to help clients articulate and identify their goals in a legal situation.

Subjects Covered

 Procedure, Torts, Contracts, Property, Criminal Law, and Regulatory/Administrative Law, and Constitutional Law.  


Geographic: Cambridge, Massachusetts 

Industry: Real Estate 

Event Year Begin: N/A


To obtain accessible versions of our products for use by those with disabilities, please contact the HLS Case Studies Program at hlscasestudies@law.harvard.edu or +1-617-496-1316.

Educator Materials

Watermarked review copies and a teacher's manual of this product are available free of charge to educators and staff at non-profit institutions. A teacher's manual is available free of charge to for-profit trainers. Please create an account or sign in to gain access to these materials. 

Note: It can take up to three business days after you create an account to verify educator access. Verification will be confirmed via email.

Copyright Information

Please note that each purchase of this product entitles the purchaser to one download and use.  If you need multiple copies, please purchase the number of copies you need. For more information, see Copying Your Case Study.


Registered User?

Sign in now

Not a User?

Create an account

Instructors can apply for Educator Access. Benefits include:
Benefits Include:

  • Educator Copies
  • Teaching Notes
  • Student Pricing

Contact us for more information.

Related case studies and educator materials