Category: Law School

12

Death of the Casebook?

casebooks.jpg

Predictions about the death of the book have so far been premature and it’s not hard to see why. Books are a very nice technology. Portable, durable, easy-to-read, stable – people like books, and they aren’t going away any time soon.

But what about casebooks? They’re heavy, inconvenient, not terribly portable – and no one really has warm fuzzy feelings about curling up with the latest edition of Gunther. (Co-Blogger Nate may be an exception). Can we safely make a prediction about the death (or at least transformation) of the casebook?

I can see a number of advantages to a purely electronic casebook: (1) weight, or lack thereof (bits are light); (2) ease of updating (no more supplements); (3) customizability (no need to buy all those extra chapters); (4) ability for students to cut and paste into outlines; (5) multimedia, etc.

I can also see several disadvantages: (1) lack of access to computers; (2) dislike of reading material on a computer screen; (3) lack of portability. But it seems to me that two of these disadvantages are becoming less significant as (1) computers become ubiquitous in law school; and (2) people seem increasingly comfortable reading material off of computer screens.

So, is anyone ready to predict the death of the casebook? Are we stuck with casebooks? Or is there some interesting hybrid we should be looking forward to? (Note this is not a purely disinterested question, as I’m currently working on a casebook).

5

Law books just want to be free

One of the things that has suprised me most about becoming a law professor is the quantity of free material everybody suddenly wants to send me. Representatives from every imaginable legal publisher send me copies of a dozen different books or supplements each month.

Not that I’m complaining. I enjoy being catered to, the free books are nice, and I even manage to read a few of them. But a large (and growing) stack of them are ones that I’ll probably seldom, or never, even open. And like Christine, I’m starting to wonder just how much my own stack of never-gonna-open-em books contributes to the $100 price tag of law books. Is it more than Ian Ayres’ $10?

0

Win A Dream Getaway to the AALS Annual Meeting!!

vacation2a.jpgI couldn’t believe my eyes. It was just too good to be true. Just a few minutes ago, I got this email from the law school casebook publishing company, Foundation Press:

Tell me who you are and enter to win a trip to AALS: In order to bring you the most current and valuable information on Foundation Press publications in your subject areas, please take a moment to complete a short questionnaire to help me better understand your needs. When you do, you will be entered into a drawing for a trip for two to the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) 2006 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., January 3-7, 2006. The winner will be chosen from all law school faculty that complete the survey by November 11, 2005 – so hurry! For more information, see complete contest details.

Wow! A dream vacation. A trip to the AALS annual meeting — perhaps the world’s most exciting event! At the Marriott Wardman Park hotel, which evokes so many wonderful memories of the days when law professors were interviewing for jobs. And Washington, DC in January! I’m visualizing the sandy beaches, palm trees, warm tropical breezes, and glorious sunsets. It just can’t get any better. This is a prize truly too good to pass up.

37

Unusual Law School Classes

lawgavel.jpgI recently posted about a law school course about wine, only to discover that it’s not all that unusual. That got me thinking fondly of my days in law school, where there were many unusual courses – probably due to the fact I went to Yale. I located my old course bulletins, and here are 10 of my favorite unusual courses from those bulletins.

I also thought I’d invite readers who went to law school, are now in law school, or who are teaching in law school, to post in the comments their favorite unusual law school classes. And I thought I’d make a quiz out of this too.

· Favorite Unusual Courses: Please post in the comments some of the unusual courses from where you teach or where you went to school. Please be sure to indicate the law school where the course is taught. Any links to online course listings, if available, would be helpful to verify that the courses are indeed real. In the alternative, feel free to email the courses and descriptions to me.

· Quiz: A bit of puzzleblogging (inspired by the Volokh Conspiracy): Can you guess who taught these courses? Below the courses, I provide a list of instructors to select from. Extra credit: I took two of the ten courses below — guess which ones. Winner’s Prize: A whole lot of nothing.

Courses from the Yale Law School Bulletin

1. ART, LOVE, AND POWER: A PHILOSOPHY OF AMERICAN LAW

If morality is defined as recognition of the limits imposed upon one, then good law is an effective moral force. This seminar will explicate such a view and apply it to U.S. society.

2. BEARING WITNESS

In many law school courses, the primary focus is on law itself. In others, one or more of the law’s dramatis personae take center stage—the judge, the jury, the lawyer, the legislature, and occasionally even the litigant. This seminar will focus on an oft overlooked player – the witness – and on the very idea of witnessing.

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7

Some Wine With Your Law? A Law School Course in Wine

wine4.jpgBoalt Hall (Berkeley Law School) is offering a course about wine law, accompanied by extensive wine tasting:

Most students at Boalt Hall School of Law learn by reading class materials and listening to lectures.

But in Room 110, the lessons are sipped.

Glasses of pinot noir are part of Boalt Hall’s first ever wine law class, where students are learning the legal complexities of the wine industry. Lessons include tasting wines to examine the significance and differences between wine appellations, which have become a thorny legal issue.

If any student thought a class involving wine tasting would be a cakewalk, they were disappointed.

“It’s substantive. It’s hard,” said Mano Sheik, a third-year Boalt Hall law student. “We’re not just drinking wine.”

And that’s the point, according to the class’ instructor, Richard Mendelson. The Napa attorney, who has both worked in and concentrated his practice on the wine industry, said the law surrounding it is rife with issues involving the 21st Amendment, intellectual property, land use planning and international trade.

Perhaps Professor Bainbridge will soon be offering such a course at UCLA.

3

The Two Towers

Dan S. has already given good advice on what to say at the AALS. (A partial dissent by Paul Horwitz posits that brilliance is overrated). The web already contains a plethora of good advice, from sources like Brian Leiter (here) and Gordon Smith (here). My goal in this post is more limited. I hope to strike the right amount of terror into candidates’ hearts as they contemplate the destructive force weilded by The Two Towers.

Since time immemorial, the meat market has been held in Middle Earth, a location dominated by two towers: The Wardman Tower, which is inhabited by Saruman the White, and the Park Tower, which is inhabited by the Dark Lord Sauron. The approximate walking time from the base of one tower to the base of another tower is four to six minutes. The approximate mad-dash time from one to the other is about three minutes. Rumors persist of particularly desprate and speedy candidates who have clocked in at under two minutes, but attempting such velocity is not recommended.

Given the geography, if you are a meat market candidate, you should bear in mind a few quick navigation tips regarding the two towers:

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10

Law Teaching Interview Advice

lawprofessor5.jpgThe AALS law teaching interview season will be commencing soon, and since a number of our readers will be interviewing for law teaching jobs, here are a few quick words of advice.

First, keep in mind that your interview lasts only for 30 minutes, and the law professors interviewing you will be interviewing dozens of people. They will be cooped up in a stuffy room all day, meeting one bright-eyed candidate after the next. Only a few of these scores of people will be invited back to the law school for a full all-day interview. This means that at the end of the day, your 30 minutes needs to be memorable. You need to make an impression on them. But what kind of impression?

Here’s the ideal impression, in my opinion, that you should create:

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4

Wikimania

Dan mentions the possibility of writing a paper by Wiki. He even hints that this could affect legal academia. (And I for one am shocked, shocked at the suggestion that the responsibility of writing legal scholarship might be farmed out to anonymous hooligans on the web, rather than continuing with the time-honored method of farming it out to minimum-wage research assistants).

(Definitional note for those who didn’t read Dan’s post: A wiki is an open website which allows anyone to edit any entry; the most successful is the online encyclopedia Wikipedia).

But let’s ask the real question — is Dan going far enough with wikimania? Or are there more places where wiki adoption could take the place of help out law professors?

WikiRankings.

U.S. News unreliable? Princeton Review incomprehensible? Leiter just too political? Welcome to WikiRankings. Every school is ranked, and everyone can participate in the process. Indulge in your urge to tell people that NYU stinks or that [insert your alma mater here] is really the best school in the country. (Potential downside: Columbia grads who insist on continually mentioning the fact that NYU stinks).

Wiki Law Review.

Your article will be read by an unknown number of random web participants, who can vote on which articles they like best. (How is this different from normal law review submission?)

Once accepted for publication, it will be edited through the efforts of anonymous Wikizens and then published online. (Oh, it’s an online journal!).

Hey, I like these innovations so far. Long live Wikis! I suppose it doesn’t hurt any that I’m teaching at Thomas Jefferson — currently ranked #7 in the country, according to WikiRankings* — and that I’ve just had five articles accepted by the Wiki L. Rev. Where else can we introduce Wikis?

Wiki Tenure Committee.

On second thought, let’s not go there.

* I deny all reports that in an original version of this post I wrote “and it would be ranked higher if I had coded a better javascript voting program.”

1

Psst! Can I copy from your exam?

Or rather, can Ben Barros copy from your exam? He writes:

Perhaps I could set up a list of e-mail addresses of property professors willing to share exams, and we could get in touch with each other directly. Please leave a note in the comments if you (a) would be interested in participating and (b) have any ideas on how to set things up.

I haven’t yet given any exams in property — it’s on the list of courses I will probably teach someday, but not this semester. If you have given such exams, and would like to participate in Ben’s project, let him know.

But don’t let the proctor catch you copying from each other’s exams.