Future of the Casebook I: Editor Value Added

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2 Responses

  1. A.J. Sutter says:

    Some devil’s advocate questions, perhaps:

    (i) Is boundless infinitude good for students?

    (ii) Expressing rapid-fire thoughts on a blog is one thing, but is it feasible for profs to see immediately how the addition of a new case might affect the overall balance or dialectic of the casebook, and to pare appropriately? Or will it just mean the casebook accretes a lot of new material during the term, becoming bloated? Won’t some kind of more traditional-style, reflective editing be needed at least annually anyway? What’s wrong with just posting a slip opinion (or published one) on a course website?

    (iii) Certainly a real-time discussion of a leading SCOTUS decision, and maybe of a few other exceptional types of case (e.g. a major case in the school’s home circuit or jurisdiction, or a newsworthy case that students might be very motivated to discuss during its 15 minutes of fame), can enhance a class. But otherwise, do students really need “up-to-the-minute” knowledge? E.g., is it a benefit to cover a newly-breaking decision in a distant Federal circuit when there may be a split a few months later? In any case, it won’t be “up-to-the-minute” by the time they’re sworn in. Might the noise and jitter drown out the signal? Is this the importation of the day-trading ethos into legal pedagogy?

  2. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    A.J.–Thanks for the quick :) response! Very good points worthy of serious attention. The balance must be sought.

    In my examples, the opinions I mentioned were worth noting during class as they came down, for certain. I assigned and we discussed one of them and it appears in the new edition as a main case. We discussed a second and read a portion of it and it appears as a note case in the new edition. We mentioned the other two as they related to executive compensation as a current event topic. But those two are too long, written by trial courts on preliminary motions and I did not assign them or include them in the new edition.

    All this filtering can and must be done, in real time and on reflection. There is much more to say about the comparative appeal of print versus electronic books and I hope to say some of it in future posts. And I appreciate thoughtful comments like these.