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Do Law Students Hate Law School Textbooks?

During many semesters, I have my students do an anonymous mid-semester survey that evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the course. Sometimes, the mid-semester survey reveals weaknesses in my teaching methods that are important for me to recognize, even if unpleasant for me to read about.

The most interesting finding of my mid-semester surveys is not about my personal strengths and weaknesses, but those of law school textbooks. Unlike most standard student evaluation forms, my midsemester surveys allow students to give a separate rating for the textbook. Routinely, those ratings are far from flattering to the texts. Cynics might suggest that the textbooks' ratings are driven down by my own ratings. To that reasonable conjecture, I respond that the textbooks' scores are routinely a lot lower than those the students give to me. Even when I have an unusually bad semester, the textbooks usually do even worse.

Why do so many students dislike the textbooks? It's hard to know for sure. On my surveys, students have an opportunity to write comments explaining their ratings. The most common complaints in the comments about the textbooks are that they are either boring or inaccessible (i.e. - don't explain the material very well).

Two caveats apply. First, I have only done these surveys with respect to textbooks in constitutional law and property. It may be that textbooks in other fields are more popular with students. I am fairly confident, however, that the ratings do accurately reflect the two fields I teach in, since the books I use are routinely among the market leaders at elite law schools.

Second, while I don't believe that my ratings are driving down those of the books (because they are actually much higher than the books' scores), I can't rule out the possibility that part of the problem is rooted in the interaction between my teaching style and the textbooks' approach. Perhaps students like the textbooks more with professors who "teach to the book" to a greater extent than I do. Ultimately, I doubt that such factors account for more than a small fraction of my students' dissatisfaction with their textbooks. But it's hard to know for sure.

To readers with relevant expertise, I pose two questions:

1. Is it in fact true that law students dislike law school textbooks, or is my experience idiosyncratic?

2. If so, why is that? Are boredom and inaccessibility the real culprits? Or is something else at work?

Particularly welcome would be systematic evidence of student attitudes to law textbooks, such as from large-scale surveys or experiments. Anecdotal evidence is useful, too, of course. But it's often hard to tell if it's representative of a broader trend.

zooba:
Probably because you pay a boatload of money for what is mainly a collection of freely available legal opinions. Also, the physical readability level is way lower than books in other fields. Finally, they are heavy.
10.10.2008 5:05pm
OrinKerr:
Many casebooks are pretty weak: Professors often don't know how to communicate effectively to students, or to see the world from their perspective. The market has some impact on that, but it's the professors who choose books, and changing casebooks is both a ton of work for a prof and it's often quite uncertain as to whether the new book will be an improvement (as you don't know until you teach it).

My two cents, anyway,.
10.10.2008 5:07pm
Splunge:
I don't believe that my ratings are driving down those of the books (because they are actually much higher than the books' scores)

Logic fault. You overlook the fact that you are right there in front of them, with immense power over their lives, while the textbook author is far away and has zero power. Cognitive dissonance -- not to mention normal socialization -- dictates that they like you better, regardless of your and the textbook's relative merits, even on an anonymous survey.

If you really care about these things, you would do better surveying students several semesters after they passed your class. No one likes the nasty medicine when it's going down, but after you do (or do not) get all better, you are in a better position to evaluate its quality as a medicine rather than just its taste.
10.10.2008 5:10pm
Mike& (mail):
I hated casebooks. They tend to pose some questions at the end, but do not discuss an answer. It's like math homework where no one tells you if you got the right answer; or even if you're getting warmer.

Sheldon Nahmod's Constitutional Torts casebook is an exception. At the end of each chapter in the "Notes" section, he'd discuss lower-court cases. We could see how lower courts concretely applied the abstract rule statements handed down from the U.S. Supreme Court.
10.10.2008 5:11pm
Ilya Somin:
Logic fault. You overlook the fact that you are right there in front of them, with immense power over their lives, while the textbook author is far away and has zero power. Cognitive dissonance -- not to mention normal socialization -- dictates that they like you better, regardless of your and the textbook's relative merits, even on an anonymous survey.

I don't see why my having more power would lead them to like me better. If anything (e.g. - If I think I'm misusing my power), it might lead them to like me less. And on an anonymous survey, there's no danger that I could somehow punish them for making critical comments about me.
10.10.2008 5:12pm
blabla:
None of my friends in law school thought that there was something fundamentally wrong with all textbooks. We had our gripes about particular textbooks, or about professors making us buy books that they had written, but those are different issues.
10.10.2008 5:13pm
eric (mail):
I think the main problem is that textbooks are not edited aggressively enough. No-one wants to read 1300 pages of boring pontification and string cites to a friend of the author's obscure law review article. Frankly, I stopped reading them 2L year.
10.10.2008 5:14pm
Mike& (mail):
Typical note from casebook: A enters into a contract with B. Based on the case you just read, is it a valid contract?

That's it.

So I could discuss it with some friends, but, how do I know if I'm right? How do I know if I'm applying the rule correctly?

In Nahmod's book, he'd ask a question, and then follow it up by saying: "In Jones v. Smith, the Whatever Circuit Court of Appeals held that, under the facts presented, there was no excessive force claim."

We could, if so inclined, even pull up the lower court case. In fact, that's how I prepped for finals. I'd go through the lower court opinions Nahmod cited, and read the facts but not the law. And then do an analysis based on those facts. I'd then see what the court concluded.

With other casebooks, that's not possible to do. It's just a blanket, "Discuss." Yeah, sure, as someone ignorant of the subject, I'll be able to have a great discussion.
10.10.2008 5:15pm
anonymailer (mail):
P. Somin,

I had your class, and the text books were admittedly dry. I think most of the class shared the view that your best days in class were the ones when you deviated from the script and the book, using the book briefly as the predicate for a much broader discussion. The discussion from the students was also more vibrant on the days which you focus less on the textbook.

Also, on an off-topic, many students "inherate" law school outlines from the same professor's previous semesters. I always thought that teaching from the text for consecutive semesters detered students from actually studying the materials, because we could glean the information from the passed-down outlines and not have to read through all of the cases.
10.10.2008 5:15pm
Jer (mail):
Some textbooks pose a challenging question at the end of the chapter. This can frustrate students. Do you see why?

Some of these questions lack context. Do you see why?

Even though these questions are asked in the assigned reading, we rarely discuss them in class. Do you see why?

These questions are often posed at the end of a text, and make the student realize they have not pulled the correct information from the assigned readings. This requires re-reading the text in order to answer the question. This is inefficient. Do you see why?
10.10.2008 5:21pm
Student:
Something to do with paying an enormous amount for a book that will be of marginal use during the semester and zero use thereafter? Walk into a law practice and see what books are on the shelves: I'll wager you a pretty fair sum a textbook won't be among them. On the other hands walk into a doctor's office, and engineer's office, an architect's office (I could go on, but you get the idea) and you see old college textbooks all over the place. Ask yourself why lawyers don't use legal textbooks after graduation when so many other professions do and you're pretty well along the path to figuring out why students hate them.

Two exceptions: One Professor had us buy two volumes of the Virginia Code and used that as his text, and another had us buy a practical handbook of the Federal Rules of Evidence. I still use all three. The rest of the books I had to purchase in law school are of no value whatsoever.
10.10.2008 5:22pm
Jer (mail):
And for the love of federalism, can someone design a textbook that accepts highlighter ink without bleeding between pages?
10.10.2008 5:23pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
My experience was that the casebooks often didn't track the curriculum very well. The best materials that I remember were always copies of cases provided by the instructor-- these tended to be on point and were often edited in a manner consistent with the issues we would be covering in class.
10.10.2008 5:26pm
JRL:
I would say I generally liked the textbooks. I'd much rather read the edited case than the whole case.

I do remember spending an entire evaluation lambasting one particular textbook -- Legislation by Eskridge, Frickey and Garrett. The most ridiculously politically biased text I had ever encountered, and often flat out wrong in its analysis.
10.10.2008 5:27pm
Skorri (mail):
I have a particular hatred for the text books with that crappy thin and flaky paper. Pens and highlighters bleed right through, making it a mess to study from.

I also think textbooks should be required to have double the size of the margins they currently do. Not all of us have tiny pretty handwriting that can fit in a half inch of space.

In terms of content, I echo Mike&above. Books that have vague questions but provide no answers are infuriating and next to useless for study purposes. At least throw in a case or article cite so I can find the answer /somewhere/.

Three books I can think of that I've thought were particularly student-friendly are OK's Computer Crimes, International Law from Carter/Trimble/Weinstein and National Security Law from Dycus/Banks/Raven-Hansen.
10.10.2008 5:28pm
Reasoner:
Textbook writers have to compromise between being too verbose and making the book too long, time consuming, and boring, or making the book too short and hard to understand. Also, there's not enough feedback between students and textbook writers about what parts of the book are hard to understand. Which parts are hard to understand also vary from student to student, but every student finds some parts hard to understand, and thus needs extra explanation. The problem is that if there is a section that consistently confuses 10% of the students but the other 90% find easy to understand, the writer will probably go for brevity instead of an extended explanation.

THE SOLUTION:
A textbook should start out as a web page. Each paragraph should have a little button to press if the student doesn't understand that part, and upon pressing that button the student can enter a short question or explanation of the confusion.

Then the textbook author can either revise the text so that everyone gets it, or put an extra button that will bring up an expanded explanation just for the minority of students that need more help.
10.10.2008 5:29pm
EricS (mail):
It is true that many law students, if not most, dislike casebooks. The problem is that they don't explain the material. Rather they are merely case studies. This is a problem when you have professors who use the Socratic method. It is not possible to get straight answers from the book or from class. The result is that students buy study guides to learn the subjects.
Another problem is that case books contain many cases for pedagogical reasons that are no longer good law. This may make sense in a class like constitutional law, but in classes like civil procedure and corporations it is plain stupid and a waste of time. Case books should include sections that are written like horn books to teach historical developments or expand the breadth of a particular area.
Finally, the problem with case books and law school teaching in general is that most classes and professors use the exact same style of text and same teaching style regardless of the subject. Not every subject lends itself to the case study method. Why learn joinder of parties by reading cases?
10.10.2008 5:29pm
I'm not a fan (mail):
It depends so very much on the casebook.

This semester, I am taking Wills and Estates and a course on Real Estate Finance.

The W&E Book is written beautifully. It is accessible but, perhaps more important, easy to follow. The cases are important and picked for obvious reasons, and the legal issues are explained with some context. The questions at the end of each section are thought provoking.

My Real Estate Finance book, on the other hand, is a nightmare wrapped in a pain sandwich. Dense, unreadable text with no attempt whatsoever to put it in any context. Just one flowchart - one - would make it so much easier to comprehend. Instead, it's just random issue after random issue after random issue with pontification after pontification thrown on top. The cases themselves come with little context and few facts. If it weren't for attending class, I would honestly have no idea what is going on.

What gives me a chuckle is that, after all that time spent teaching us to write concisely in a way that is easy to understand with a minimum of needless jargon, we are then forced to read hundreds of pages each week that go against precisely what we have been taught.
10.10.2008 5:33pm
Cory J (mail):
Mike&and Jer,

That's my biggest complaint as well.
10.10.2008 5:36pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

1. Is it in fact true that law students dislike law school textbooks, or is my experience idiosyncratic?

2. If so, why is that? Are boredom and inaccessibility the real culprits? Or is something else at work?


1. I certainly hated some of them, and so did many of my fellow law students, and I went to a law school way down here in Texas. So I don't think it's idiosyncratic.

2. The textbooks I hated were in the mold of the traditional casebook. Little to no explanatory material, just one case after the other, with context to be gleaned from the holdings and the Table of Contents. Now granted, an excellent professor brings order and enlightenment to such a stale arrangement of teaching materials, but the fact that I had several professors who did so does not change my dislike of those particular books. The ones I enjoyed the most were the ones that accompanied the cases with introductions and pages of explanatory materials, notes and citations to other similar cases after the primary case. I had no professor who asked us to read all of that material, but the fact was I always could if I wanted to (and some professors did ask us to read some of it), and I certainly learned more from reading that material than I did from haphazardly trying to "research" the law using outside sources like the internet or hornbooks in an effort to understand the point of the case I was reading so I wouldn't look like a fool in class the next day.
10.10.2008 5:36pm
Toxic:
Some law school books were very shabbily designed; typos, missing pages, etc.

But law texts aren't like other textbooks; they aren't designed to explain the material. It's cases, some notes after designed to provoke some thought. That's about it. Esp. Property and Con. Law.

Since those are first year classes, its probably you've got some culture shock going on, since students expect textbooks to explain stuff.
10.10.2008 5:44pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
I doubt that your experience is idiosyncratic; I was not fond of the majority of textbooks assigned. In my opinion, inaccessibility is the more serious of the two concerns.

For example, Hart & Wechsler's federal courts textbook is quite wonderful, if you already happen to know the law! That is, it's a great reference work, but it's hardly user-friendly for a novice to the subject. My federal courts professor more or less acknowledged this by directing us to buy Chermerinsky's book on federal jurisdiction to consult when we were hopelessly lost in Hart & Wechsler.

I'm not sure that there's too much help for boredom and inaccessibility though. Textbooks likely could be better written; but, to paraphrase Webster, the study (and practice) of law is drudgery.
10.10.2008 5:49pm
John Frazer:
Prof. Somin,

As an alumnus of two of your classes, I can say that I have no blanket hatred of casebooks -- only of bad ones.

I didn't think there was any disconnect between the books and the classroom discussions. You used the books as a jumping off point, which was as it should be.

I quite liked our Property casebook (Dukeminier's, I think). I thought the cases were well-selected and edited to give you enough of the flavor of the opinion, and the comments were actually useful (i.e. they gave you answers, not questions). It was also small and lightweight.

I did not like the casebook for Con Law II (Sunstein's). It was oversized and overweight, yet didn't contain enough substance of the actual cases. It seemed as if Sunstein's priority was to trim the cases to the bone to allow for more of his own commentary. Although I can't point to specific examples now (three years later) I thought Sunstein omitted important material from the cases, especially from dissents and concurrences.

I particularly noticed this since it was different from the casebook we used in Con Law I (Levinson and Amar's), which had meatier excerpts (and more interesting editorial commentary). I would have much preferred continuing with the Levinson book, and not only for financial reasons.

And by the way, I do still use the Levinson casebook as a reference work.

Best,

John Frazer
10.10.2008 6:10pm
PORTLANDLLM:
I taught university students as a graduate instructor for three years before law school, and I had a keen interest in evaluations. As an instructor, you have to take student evaluations about casebook with a grain of salt because students will almost always resist them despite their value.

As a law student, I found that casebooks that followed the problem/case-study format were better than those that followed the traditional case/notes format. Good problem format case books are International Law, Norms, Actors, Process: A Problem-oriented Approach by Dunoff, Ratner, Wippman; and Administrative Procedure and Practice: Problems and Cases by Funk, Shapiro, Weaver.

The problem format casebooks were better for two reasons. First, they forced student-readers to think for themselves and apply the more traditional case reading to an actual problem. Second, when done well, they help student-readers see the forest from the trees by weaving in multiple sections from the casebook.

Of course, a casebook is only as good as the professor who teaches from it. You can't really separate the two. Even though it's challenging to do in larger lecture classes, I wish professors would do more to involve students in tackling the problems in the book more, and going mechanistically through an entire case less.
10.10.2008 6:15pm
David Newton:
It sounds like there is a confusion amongst the writers of many law "textbooks" as to their purpose. A textbook should be designed to empower the learner. It should let its readers know what level those beginning to read it are expected to be at and then take those reading it on from that level. It should not just set down fact, after fact, after fact and expect people to learn by osmosis.

It sounds like a lot of these "textbooks" are in reality reference works designed for those who already know about the subject area in great detail. I know that when I took a law module as part of my accountancy qualification the textbook was not just case, after case, after case. It explained what those cases meant and gave them context. It was not aimed at the law school level, however it sounds like it did a good deal of a better job of providing a basic, sound foundation in many areas of law than the "textbooks" used in many law school classes.
10.10.2008 6:24pm
Reasoner:
Some people will complain that reading a textbook on a computer as I've suggested above is a pain. I used to agree, but I find that if I enlarge the text very big, then it's actually more comfortable to read on my laptop. Reading on an LCD display set to the proper resolution is also easier than on an old tube computer display because LCD's set to the proper resolution are sharp, so your eyes don't struggle to focus on the always slightly blurry CRT displays.

Also, textbooks should be open source so that people can contribute corrections, clarifications, and improvements, and of course so students can save money. Open source textbooks would also make it easy for instructors to add or remove or change sections to match their course or preferences.

Another advantage of digital textbooks would be that they could make extensive use of color photos, video, animation, and computer programs without adding significant printing cost.

One of the huge wastes of human life is lecturing. At Disneyland, instead of wasting money and part of a human's life standing in front of an audience imitating Abraham Lincoln, they just built a robot to recite his Gettysburg Address. A much more practical solution for college lectures is of course video. Think of the massive loss to humanity of having thousands of highly intelligent, highly educated, highly paid people wasting their lives acting as human video players, giving the same speeches year after year (with only slight modification). And think of the loss to students of having them sit through the low quality lectures of thousands of less talented instructors, when they could all be watching the lectures of some of the best instructors in the world. Time wasted by those instructors could be better spent answering student questions and compiling frequently asked questions to improve the textbooks and videos, and helping individual students past their peculiar hangups. And wouldn't you like to be able to rewind the instructors lecture when you didn't quite catch what was said?

People are so accustomed to the idea that learning means going to class that they have a hard time even grasping the concept that it could be any different. Eliminating lectures seems preposterous. That's just the way it's done. It's always been done that way!

Why shouldn't we eliminate lectures?
10.10.2008 6:32pm
3L:
Like some of the commenters above, I find unanswered questions annoying, and I tend to like casebooks less if they pose a lot of those. I don't exactly agree with the comments that suggest that more explanatory material would improve casebooks, though. That depends on the cases that are already there (some of them will provide plenty of explanation), and even more importantly, it depends on the nature of the explanatory material. Sure, if you're going to pose a question about applying a rule to some particular facts, you should probably provide some discussion of that question ... but if you're merely introducing a rule, then a lot of explanation can be annoying.

For instance, my least favorite textbook was my Evidence book. That book discussed the history, philosophy, and/or policy-making process that went into or preceded every rule of evidence in great detail, and we hardly read a single case all semester. As far as I know, everyone despised reading it. Many simply stopped doing the reading assignments. We were bored! Plus, it simply didn't make sense to waste so much time on policy discussion in a class where we were trying to learn a rule-based subject. We just wanted to learn what the rules were and how to apply them. At least we went over problems in class. The class wasn't bad, but that textbook was the worst!
10.10.2008 6:32pm
ASlyJD (mail):
I'll second a lot of what's being said. I found Dukeminer's Property book pretty straightforward. Actually, all my books from Aspen publishers have been good. The various Thomson West texts have been adequate.

Minor quibbles: why can't the casebooks cite the cases using proper Bluebook notation? It's aggravating to copy a cite down, only to find out that it's not complying with abbreviation rules or such. Also, due to the evolution of language, some cases are needlessly difficult to read. I get it, it's the Peerless case, the prof had to read it back in the day, but come on! The 16th century texts I read for my history thesis were easier to understand.

My Con law prof actually assembled his own "case book" using some judicial copy and paste from an online source. He then emailed it out. I was grateful for not having to buy yet another text.
10.10.2008 6:43pm
H2:
Mike&and Student,
I could not agree more.
I hated the questions at the end of the chapter. Your point about math problems with no answers was right on point. It was like why even bother?

I know a friend who said that she was going to keep her books in case she needed to look something up later. So, I did the same. Recently, I wanted to look up some corporate law so I pulled out my book. I discovered that in order to find the small point that I was looking for I had to read the majority of the cases in that section to find it. As most here know, there is no detailed index of legal points in these books.
What a waste of time.

I am not sure if someone was being tongue in cheek or serious, but yah, it is a shock to come to law school with these textbooks when students expect to learn from the assigned book.

I don't know of any other study that seems to make students buy so many books to supplement the main reading material.

I personally, having no law/history/political science background when entering law school enjoyed the outlines that broke down the legal points.

It would be simpler to just make students pull the cases off the web or have the instructors compose a packet of cases to read.
10.10.2008 6:44pm
meshugenah:
Contra PortlandLLM, I despised my Admin. casebook that set up the material in each section by posing a problem. I usually just skipped the problems. I did fine in the class.

The best casebooks, to me, are the ones that include citations to cases that answer, or suggest an answer to, the questions the notes pose, particularly when the citations include parentheticals briefly stating the answer. That way, if the answer struck me as odd or strange, or if I just plainly missed it, I could look up the case(s) and investigate. If the answer was what I expected, I didn't have to waste my time.

The most infuriating feature of casebooks is the use of rhetorical questions. H&W is, of course, particularly guilty of that. So was my Con Law casebook (Amar was one of 7 or 8 editors). Also, when notes excerpt large chunks out of a case in smaller, indented type. Just give me the damned case. Of course, narcissism is also an irritating feature of casebooks. The editors always manage to cite themselves. The Amar ConLaw casebook was especially bad about that. It's one thing to cite an article you wrote that was groundbreaking, or important, or otherwise widely well-regarded. It's another thing to cite an article you wrote in support of the proposition that the cloudless noon-time sky is blue. The latter just makes me think you're a dick.

Then there was the professor who at the end of the semester told us that we didn't need to worry about what we read in the casebook. Instead, to prepare for the final exam, we should study a treatise on the subject. After the laughter stopped, once everyone realized he was serious, I think "murderous rage" adequately characterizes the collective mood.

Then there's the cost issue, particularly given that the cases are widely (freely) available. Yes, yes, the notes are not. Maybe we're paying for the editing. Whatever. The classes I learned the most from, and that I enjoyed the most, tended to be the ones where the professor put together a packet of cases and articles and posted them online. No rhetorical questions. No incessant citing to tendentious articles written by the casebook editors. No frustration w/ the poorly printed or poorly bound behemoth book. No gaping hole in my pocket post-bookstore-visit.

Anyway, I don't really know of anyone who sat around and thought through the questions posed in the casebook notes. Too busy. As much as law profs might like to think otherwise, there's too much pressure on law school students to get to sit around and just think through broad issues. I'm not saying theory is totally worthless. I'm just saying, if you want to present theory, give me your argument, let me evaluate it on my own. Don't pose a series of questions and hope I come around to making the argument that you want to make in the first place. Because I won't. Not because I can't, but because I have better (or at least, more urgent) things to do.
10.10.2008 6:45pm
Mike& (mail):
Your point about math problems with no answers was right on point. It was like why even bother?

Right. Now some professors will say, "But there always isn't a right answer." No duh. But there is a right process. So how about we see that process in action with notes that have some relevant facts and a few case cites?
10.10.2008 7:01pm
Cactus Jack:
Agreed with Mike&et al above regarding case notes. I found that Examples and Explanations generally was a useful supplement to the casebook.
10.10.2008 7:43pm
Prof. S. (mail):
I agree with John Frazer. Sunstein's ConLaw book (the giant red Aspend one) is by far, hands down, without competition the WORST casebook ever envisioned by man. Hey Prof. Sunstein - here's an idea: it's called a heading. You should think about using them.

Overall, I think the problem with most casebooks is that they contain boring cases that either discuss some obvious point that could be addressed far quicker or some highly nuanced point that doesn't come through.

IMO, the beter case books discussed the issue and then found an interesting case on the point. They were even better when the professor would then proceed to argue against the case.

Also, there are thousands of cases out there discussing various issues. Can't people find ones with some scandalous details? At least then it's worth reading. My CrimLaw book was awful, but always made for hilarious discussion before and after class. We still laugh about the guy who claimed self-defense after he killed someone else with the handy pair of numchucks that he happened to carrying with him at that point. That's a book worth reading.
10.10.2008 7:44pm
Realist Liberal:
I have to reiterate what some people have said (Mike&comes to mind) that the questions with no answers or even follow up are seriously annoying and not helpful. I did have a couple of casebooks I like (the Kamisar, Kerr, et. al. Crim Pro for one). My Con Law book (Chemerinsky's) was okay but not great. My Con Law I professor actually assigned us the Chemerinsky hornbook and told us to read just the cases out of the case book.

Another complaint many students (including me) have is the cost. I realize that it takes a lot of work to edit a case book and God knows I couldn't do it. But over $100 per book, per class? The other complaint is the sheer size. The books are huge and I could never take more than 2 home at a time unless I de-bound them. And even at 2 it hurt my back to carry that.
10.10.2008 7:48pm
Realist Liberal:
More interesting fact scenarios would also be good when possible. I realize some cases just have to be included (Marbury v. Madison, Miranda v. Arizona) but for the smaller points let's get some better facts. Try and make it somewhat entertaining. One thing about the High Courts supplement was that the little one frame cartoon for each case was usually hilarious and actually helped me remember the case.
10.10.2008 7:51pm
Thief (mail) (www):
Problems with casebooks:

1. They are HEAVY. The fact that law students have to use rolling backpacks should clue you in on this. The smart thing to do, if casebooks are still going to be around, is to have them in binders with removable pages so you can take only the pages you need to class, and leave the other 1000 pages at home. Or even better: Put them in PDF or in a Kindle-type format. I would love to be able to read a casebook on a Kindle.

2. They pose too many questions without answers. I know this is going to get the "that's the point" answer. No, that is not the point. Actual cases have actual decisions and reasons. Give us those instead.

3. If it's a statute, a CFR section, a set of federal rules (e.g. Evidence), or the Constitution, you should probably leave it out. We can get it on Cornell LII/Lexis/Westlaw. (Even if you ban laptops in class, there are still pocket editions of rule sets and Constitutions. And you can make your own supplements for the really important stuff. See #5 below.) Yes, I'm talking to you, Mr. Civil Procedure Professor who insists on us taking a 1300-page supplement (in ADDITION TO OUR 1000-PAGE CASEBOOK) when the only things we've had to use in class are the FRCP and about 30 sections of the US code. A goldbrick is still a goldbrick. If the hand-made commentary on the text is really THAT important, put it on Westlaw too.

4. The authors do not know how to edit cases worth a damn. Con Law casebooks are particularly badly edited. (Looking in your direction, Prof. Chemerinsky.) If Breyer or Scalia (or Warren, or Frankfurter, or Brandeis, or Story) start going off on an irrelevant tangent, CUT THEM OFF. It's OK. You won't hurt their feelings. Really, they don't care.

5. Most of the casebook goes unread and unused. I think I've seen only one casebook so far where every page is assigned reading (Dressler's Criminal Procedure). If you're making a la carte selections out of a casebook (as most professors seem wont to do), then just take the cases and commentary you want, get permission to reprint from Copyright Clearance Center, and have those bound or put in a secured PDF as your textbook. (There is a service, ArticleWorks from Cadmus, that does exactly this. Please, PLEASE use it.)

Of course, I'm just a simple law student who also works full-time in a law school as well. (Your world frightens and confuses me...)
10.10.2008 8:00pm
Thief (mail) (www):
Pocket part to #4: to read "If Breyer or Scalia, or Warren, or Frankfurter, or Brandeis, or Story, or some hayseed 1890's intermediate appellate judge in Alabama, start going off on an irrelevant tangent, CUT THEM OFF."
10.10.2008 8:05pm
overworked law student:
Casebooks are too heavy and unmanageable. I'd vastly prefer a discrete set of pdfs or something I can actually travel with.

I generally don't quarrel with the content, and often it can be quite interesting. I think it might be better, generally, if the cases were, in fact, reprinted in full.

And last but not least, there's way too much reading assigned, professors almost never cover all of it in class, and it's seldom the most useful set of issues that classes focus on.
10.10.2008 8:10pm
ZedHead:
The problem with the vast majority of case books is that they simply have no added value. The quasi-rhetorical questions posed in the notes following each case only serve to frustrate students. Most often, the point that the question is trying to make (much less the correct answer) is indecipherable. Even when the notes contain substantive discussion of other cases, it is almost always too much for students to absorb. Consider that the average assignment for a 1L may consist of 2-3 cases per class. Each case may contain another 3-4 minor cases in the notes. With 3 classes a day, that means professors are asking a neophyte to understand, process and reflect on 15 to 21 cases per night. I, along with the vast majority of my classmates, quickly learned to skip over the notes and move on to the next major case.
10.10.2008 8:24pm
Sitnah:
I'm currently a 2L. I have my complaints with casebooks, which I'll get to below, but after my Property class last year I have to say that I'd rather have them than not. You see, in my Property class, we used what is called the "CaseFile method."

The Casefile method is essentially most of the worst features of casebooks without any of the potentially redeeming features. It works like this:

At the beginning of a CaseFile on a given topic, you are given a set of facts that illustrate a given legal problem. Then you are given a list of apparently random cases (often representing only the views of the given jurisdiction the problem is set in) which are posed as the "research" you have done on the problem. Then the student is ostensibly supposed to use these cases to think about solutions to the given problem.

The idea is that this forces students to do creative thinking about the law, and apply it to actual situations. The reality is that this method does nothing to actually explain the material. Students first need to learn the black letter law, then they can move on to how to apply it in different situations, and then they can move on to different theories on which version of the law is correct. But giving nothing more than an arbitrary jumble of cases, students have to try to do all three at once. It doesn't work well, and when it comes time to study, students will go to their notes (where things got cleared up), but never back to that mess of cases.

Anyway, compared to that, casebooks are great. But a bad casebook exhibits a lot of the same problems as the CaseFile method, namely:
1) Too little clear explanation of a new area of law, in favor of just giving condensed versions of a few cases.
2) The much-maligned questions in the "Notes" section following a case are a lot like the problem laid out by a CaseFile, in that no one wants to think about how to apply the law to a variant fact set or how the law could be different when in fact it is not clear what the law *is* in the first place.
3) Cases often seem to be chosen at random, rather than according to a pre-planned pedagogical scheme. Most casebooks are a jumble of important historical cases, cases chosen for their clear explanation of the law (even if that explanation is now based on out of date language), and cases chosen for their amusing facts. A consistent approach would do wonders (i.e. you know at the start you will have a case that clearly explains the law, then some cases that illustrate the development to that point, and then some tricky/interesting cases that challenge the limits of the current law).
4) Finally, casebooks are expensive, often poorly made (cheap paper, strange layout choices), and physically heavy. In the digital age, these things are increasingly an affront to common sense. (At least the CaseFile method got this complaint right, as it was based on a cheap subscription to a web page.)
10.10.2008 8:30pm
3L:
I have no problems with casebooks in general. Many of mine have been clear, precise and interesting (Farnsworth's Contracts, Dukeminier's Property, Cass/Diver/Beermann's Administrative Law, Dinwoodie &Janis' Trademark Law). I think all but three of those were from Aspen Publishers, who generally seem to produce the 'best' casebooks, closely followed by Foundation Press (who have Farnsworth's K--which is probably my favorite casebook ever).

Is there a prestige hierarchy among textbooks? If I had to guess at one, I'd say:

Aspen Publishers
Foundation Press (West)

American Casebook Series (West)
LexisNexis/Matthew Bender
10.10.2008 9:00pm
3L:
oh--I should say that those textbooks that seem to 'talk down' to the students are terrible to read, and I've really struggled with them. My Professional Responsibility and Evidence books were both like this (and also problem-based, which I generally don't find helpful).
10.10.2008 9:02pm
theobromophile (www):
Agree that questions with no answers are annoying. They are also unproductive, because if your thought process is wrong, you're reinforcing that analysis, not the correct one.

Some of the casebooks have explanatory notes at the end, which are great.

I do wish that the editors would include the relevant statute (if short) or Rule (FRE, FRCP, etc) right in front of the cases that explain it. While we are all certainly capable of looking them up ourselves, this would obviate the need for a separate supplement with a lot of extraneous material.

FYI: Staples highlighters don't bleed through the pages.
10.10.2008 9:26pm
Bama 1L:
Walk into a law practice and see what books are on the shelves: I'll wager you a pretty fair sum a textbook won't be among them.

I was expecting that to be the case, but between interviews and working over the summer I've been amazed at how many casebooks I've seen in practicing lawyers' offices. (I am not actually a 1L.)
10.10.2008 9:43pm
trad and anon:
It is true that many law students, if not most, dislike casebooks. The problem is that they don't explain the material. Rather they are merely case studies. This is a problem when you have professors who use the Socratic method. It is not possible to get straight answers from the book or from class. The result is that students buy study guides to learn the subjects.
I think the fact that the casebooks don't explain the material is the worst part. In other subjects, the textbook provides information about the subject. If the student doesn't understand the professor, they can go back and reread the section of the textbook that explains the material. By contrast, in law, the textbook presents raw data (cases) and expects you to make sense of them yourself. If you didn't understand the professor, going back to the textbook is no help at all, because law students, especially 1L's, are not the most sophisticated case readers. To the 1L reader, it is often not even clear whether a case is presented as an example of the rule or as a historically significant case in the development of the rule. Trying to learn the material from the textbook is an extremely difficult, tedious, and error-prone process.

Because the textbooks don't explain the material, if the student is studying from the textbook and what the professor says, they no way to tell if they've understood the rule or misunderstood it unless they look at an outline. In other words, the way to learn the material is find another textbook on your own and use that.

A textbook that students don't find useful is a bad textbook. Nearly all law textbooks are in this category.
10.10.2008 9:43pm
Bama 1L:
Sitnah, CaseFile is supposed to be a more practical way to learn the law, but I agree that it falls down in practice. Any professor using it absolutely must supplement with straightforward lecture and some book that lays out the black letter.
10.10.2008 9:46pm
erslkrekolwjla (mail):
One of the best classes I ever had in law school was a class that was, in theory, on a relatively discrete subject but the professor told us he was going to teach us Constitutional Law - not 18 subjects under the heading of Constitutional Law, but Constitutional Law - period. He did this by choosing a subject with only a handful of cases from the Supreme Court and a few major cases from the Circuit Courts. We then read the unedited cases and would spend several days on each case dissecting every piece of the opinions (majority, concurring, dissenting). The professor was quite socratic in a small class and the students had to be involved. When we moved on to the next major case on that subject and did the same, we saw how the law was developing and we understood the concepts thoroughly. Students loved it and were intellectually engaged in a way they never are when texts try to distill down a case and all context is lost until all that is left is a rote concept. In these texts, development of the law comes down to "first the Court viewed it this way and then the Court changed." It makes things seem either too simplistic or even arbitrary.
10.10.2008 10:14pm
Comment on Textbooks:
Law school books are a waste of money. Professors copy publicly available materials, add a few questions, and make millions charging over a hundred dollars a text book. What a scam. Then, to make it worse, the professors add a few cases the next year just to kill the resale market. An even bigger scam. There's no creativity involved in writing law school textbooks. Law schools ought to save their students money by charging a reasonable fee for a syllabus of materials. (And reasonable is important. My school overcharged the few times they prepared syllabi.) Or better yet, just provide a list of cases cites, let the students read them online or print the cases themselves, and save the students some debt. But of course that won't hapen will it -- because law professors want the royalties.

The two textbooks I remember being interesting were Civil Rights Law and Education Law (even though my Civil Rights book was blatantly liberal in philosophy). (I can't remember the authors.) The books were interesting solely because they actually TAUGHT (shocking) by including commentary/opinions on matters. Overall, law school textbooks don't try to teach anything. They just give case excerpts, include "commentary" that merely provides a few bland facts not mentioned in the excerpts, and then ask a bunch of questions. The goal of the books, I guess, is to take no position whatsoever on any issue. That's not teaching; that's just making spouting words. What's the point in paying for that?
10.10.2008 10:58pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
Casebooks suffer from the captive audience problem. Normally authors have incentives to write well and be entertaining. I'm currently reading Anathem, cost me $32, money well spent.
Casebooks authors have a different set of incentives. Publish or perish? Are they paid by the word, or by the pound?
I endorse Reasoner's proposal for open sourcing your casebook.
This would be a good project for a class or seminar. Writing the textbooks teaches more than reading it.
Meanwhile I would probably start a course with a week of reading "___ in a nutshell". Those are readable and concise and give an overview, set the stage. Then I'd dig deeply into a few cases - assign the audio of the oral arguments, and the briefs (which are, for some major cases, collected in the law library.) Find out how the parties really resolved the case after the opinions were over. Then, you can use a regular text, with a syllabus so the students know which half of the book to cut out and archive instead of lugging to class every day.
10.10.2008 11:09pm
Question for I'm not a fan (mail):
Question for "I'm not a fan" (10.10.2008 4:33pm):
What Wills and Estates book was it that you found so helpful and well written?
Thanks.
10.10.2008 11:14pm
disgruntled alumnus (mail):
After doing BarBri a few summers ago, it was difficult to see the need for casebooks at all. I learned far more from BarBri lectures and outlines than I did from the casebooks. If I had taken BarBri before law school (hypothetically, though I know that's not possible), I would probably have received much better grades.

When I was in law school, I always felt guilty for not reading all the assignments. To keep up was overwhelming. I should have spent my time reading, studying, and memorizing commercial outlines. Then I would have learned the black letter law, and been much better prepared for the exams (where all of a sudden the case method became irrelevant - who knew?).
10.10.2008 11:20pm
Randy R. (mail):
All the comments are interesting and worthy, and I agree with almost all of them.

In today's climate, there is no reason for a textbook. Any law professor worth his salt could easily outdo any textbook out there and also tailor it to his or her curriculum. (News flash -- most courses don't cover even half the average text book, which is a total waste of money).

Any professor should determine what cases will be studied in the class. How many can that be? A couple dozen? So read then and edit them as you choose, then cut and paste onto a blog or something. Add whatever questions you want to cover in the class. Number the chapters by the days you will cover them so students always know exactly what they should prepare for each day.

professor are *supposed* to do exactly this in preparing their curriculum anyway! Why not let students in on it? What's the harm?

Then let students either read the edited case online or be able to print it out. Prof. can include whatever questions, notes, black law, etc, that he deems necessary.

Cost to students? zero. Convenience of conveying knowledge to students? Highly efficient.

For the life of me, I don't understand why we even have textbooks in this day and age. Put everything up online and you save a whole forest of trees.
10.10.2008 11:29pm
Randy R. (mail):
On second thought, I see the problem. My suggestion would require a modicum of imagination by the professor. It would also require a few hours each week to devote to updating the blog.

As most professors are either lazy bastards or too worried about publishing some inane law review article, I can see that spending a bit of time actually helping students is just unrealistic.

(Gautlet thrown).
10.10.2008 11:31pm
John Frazer:
I want to second the idea that there are distinct differences between publishers.

The Aspen books are usually well-edited, and compact enough that most or all of the book can actually be used in the course of the semester.

On the opposite extreme, most of the Foundation Press books are desperately in need of a good spring cleaning.

Foundation produces by far the worst casebook I used in law school -- Dreyfuss and Kwall's Intellectual Property. This book includes cases that are edited to eliminate (a) important, even decisive, facts, and (b) well-reasoned dissents.

Even more annoying is that the editors fail to use ellipses or bracketed editor's notes to tell you when they're deleting something.

Most annoying of all, I only learned this when the professor who assigned the book told us that we were actually expected to read the full cases online. (We had a minor mutiny when he also started what happened on remand -- decisions that he'd never assigned.)

Since we (theoretically) weren't reading the cases out of the book, the only "benefit" we got from this expensive book was the hypothetical fact patterns for discussion at the beginning of each chapter, which weren't very interesting -- except that the professor also used them as final exam questions. I never would have thought that my worst grade since 9th grade would have been on an open book test using questions provided months earlier, but there you have it.
10.11.2008 12:25am
P (mail):
Dukeminier for property is quite possibly the WORST textbook ever. All the hypothetical questions (what if X were doing Y and Z happened? what result? would the answer change if B?) with no answers were MADDENING - you can't outline them, the rare cases to which they cite don't even actually present the situation as it was in the hypo. Awful.

For a great torts casebook, check out Diamond for Torts. It is about 500 times more clear than Dukeminier.
10.11.2008 1:30am
Lev:

disgruntled alumnus (mail)...10.10.2008 10:20pm


What he said.
10.11.2008 1:30am
Dave N (mail):
Yes
10.11.2008 2:37am
Dave N (mail):
That was in response to the headline question. As for why, Randy R is quite correct in his analysis.

I have been out of law school for 17 years now. It became obvious the first year that the casebooks were something of a racket. With the internet (as well as free Lexis and Westlaw for law students), there seems to be less need for casebooks when a professor can "publish" his or her own.
10.11.2008 2:42am
AJC (mail):
With the exception of 1L courses, the weakest profs used textbooks. The textbook notes and questions are often stupid or inane.

The classes I learned the most in did not use text books. The students either printed cases and statutes from Westlaw/Lexis, which was a giant hassle, or the prof provided a collection of materials we bought at a printshop for $30-$40. Much cheaper than $120 textbooks.

After 1L year, students don't need edited cases, notes, questions, etc. If the prof needs a textbook to teach the subject, they should teach another subject.
10.11.2008 2:49am
TRE:
Have you ever read the textbooks? Now imagine paying $100+ for one. Chemerinsky's Con law book is pretty good but it is still $120. What is the value added of a textbook? Cases are available "free." I've also had textbooks assigned that we never used. $100 down the toilet.
10.11.2008 3:13am
H2:
disgruntled alumnus (mail)...10.10.2008 10:20pm

Ditto.

I forgot to mention that when I could not find the quick and dirty answer that I was looking for in my textbook. I remembered that I kept an outline or two from Barbri and I found those helpful. Extremely easy to look things up for areas of law that I do not practice and just need the general answer.

You could have taken BarBri before law school. I don't see why not.

I already planned to do this in my next life. I even prepaid so the price does not go up. ;)

[I know that Barbri and others now offer pre-law school prep which is probably pretty similar to the actual bar prep course.]

Am actually thinking of going to med school and was wondering if I dare take the prep class for Boards before I go. Probably would be worth it...
10.11.2008 7:50am
disgruntled alumnus (mail):
I'd like to follow-up, since two others have "dittoed" my comment above.

Ilya, I appreciate your question. But I'm wondering if you realize how removed it is from the real world of law students?

The appropriate question is not, "Do law students hate law school textbooks?" The question is much broader: "Do law students need textbooks at all?"

May I make a strong, imperative suggestion? (If not you, Ilya, perhaps one of your fellow VC-ers could do this.) How about you open a brand new thread, and ask openly, "All present law students, and all law school alumni, do you think you would have been better off not using your textbooks, but learning the law some other way, such as commercial outlines?" Do an informal survey. Ask for anecdotal data.

Here's mine:

Before attending law school I did my best to familiarize myself with strategies for succeeding. I really wanted to hit the ground running, especially since I was going back to school after many years out, and this would be my second career. I read "Law School Confidential" and similar books. I did online research. I talked to lawyers I knew. And there was a common theme: Law school textbooks (casebooks more accurately) were not the best way to learn the law. It was important to either get a commercial outline, or get an outline from a 2L or 3L who had taken the same course from the same professor. You needed to supplement your daily and weekly reading with learning the actual law from the commercial or student outlines. In fact, for the sake of exams it was sometimes wiser to study the outlines exclusively, despite being unprepared for class discussions.

Then, once I started law school, there was an introductory meeting where I heard several law professors give advice to the new 1L's. And there was a common theme: Don't use commercial outlines. The students who do the best do the reading every night and make their own outlines from scratch. The students who do mediocre or poorly are those who take the easy way out by using commercial outlines. I also heard the same advice spoken by law professors in their classes at the beginning of the year.

Like an idiot, like a stupid fool, I believed the professors. I didn't purchase a single commercial outline in my first year, nor did I seek an outline from a former student. I was intent on learning the law for myself the tried and true way of reading the textbooks and being prepared for class while avoiding commercial outlines.

I should add, since others have mentioned it above, that the cost of law school textbooks is truly daunting. I could not afford the textbooks and the outlines simultaneously. It would have to be one or the other. I chose the textbooks.

While I did learn a lot from making my own outlines from scratch, I did not have enough time to study or memorize the black letter law which was essential for doing well on exams. The amount of time I spent organizing my own outlines based on notes from textbooks and class discussions was far too costly in terms of preparing for the finals.

Eventually I found out something very frustrating. Many of the students who had done the best on exams did not bother reading their textbooks at all, but used commercial outlines solely to prepare. Other top students did the reading as best they could, but still concentrated on commercial outlines (or outlines from other students who had already taken the class). The advice I had heard before beginning law school turned out to be accurate. I should not have listened to those professors.

In my 2L and 3L years, I gradually became more comfortable with devoting my time to commercial outlines at the expense of reading the textbooks. When I did, it paid off. But that was in a small number of cases. I was an idiot. I should have learned this lesson much earlier.

And I was very troubled to find out that students on law journal had their own collection of student outlines from over the years, organized according to class and professor. Often they just studied the outlines without doing any class reading at all. But these outlines were not accessible to other law students unless the journal students shared them (and they were strongly discouraged from doing this).

Again, if I could do it all over again, I would have deliberately refused to buy the textbooks, and studied only commercial outlines. I probably would have been humiliated in class from time to time for not knowing the cases better, but so what? The fear of being called on in class means nothing in the context of exam grades and a ranking system that can decide your future career.

Ilya, or some other VC-er, could you open up a comment thread asking law students about commercial outlines versus textbooks? I think the results would surprise many law professors.

And to those law professors who contradicted the advice I had heard before starting law school, and who talked me and other students out of using commercial outlines: You are real sons-of-bitches. Thanks a lot.
10.11.2008 3:47pm
kmg:
Anecdotal information:

My school, GW, also has a detailed course evaluation form that asks about materials used. I remember several courses where I loved the class but found the texts horrid. Where my major complaints for the class was that the textbook really was not effective.

I also felt throughout law school that edited cases were profoundly dishonest. I've seen the same case edited in different ways which makes the impression I get of the case radically different. As a lawyer, I can't get away with refusing to read a few pages of a case (although knowing how to skim carefully and efficiently is absolutely essential), and so I don't know why law school should be different.

I'm not sure why law schools can't shift to online or other ways of both getting rid of horrid books and making sure students are engaging with the law more like they will as lawyers.

One of the biggest surprises of law school for me were how ridiculously heavy law school books were. As a student who relied on public transportation and lived quite a ways from campus and worked and participated in clinics, it was also just logistically frustrating to have to haul my books around to the courtroom, to my office, to school, to the gym, etc., when all I really needed to do was read one strangely-edited case.

Of all my casebooks from law school, I chose to keep precisely ONE. This was the only one that really had independent value as a teaching tool. (And it was one of the lightest.)
10.11.2008 4:02pm
1LUCLA (mail):
Generally I've found that my classmates and I actually like our textbooks. That being said, our favorite textbook (Professor Korobkin's) has very few cites, and no commentary. Our least favorite is our Kadish criminal law book, which also has very few cites but lots of commentary.

Frankly I think it comes down to whether the cases are interesting (this is why Korobkin's book is fantastic) and limiting the commentary, which tends to be somewhat dry.
10.11.2008 4:27pm
Katl L (mail):
Outside the USA , all law textbook are like the West Nutshells.I have used many of them( many USA laws have been copied in Spain, and we copy Spain)and liked them.And you buy monthly a court repertorie or you go online.
10.11.2008 9:16pm
Vermando (mail) (www):
1) Agree with everyone above - the unanswered questions at the end of the notes are asinine and infuriating. This is especially true since the particular points that your professor focuses on are often different than those that the textbook author found interesting.

2) They don't teach the law; they just provide illustrative cases with which your professor might or might not entirely agree. The fact that students feel they have to buy a truckload of supplementary material to study for their classes suggests that the books are insufficient. I have never understood why they can't follow the case with "In general, the rule in most jurisdictions is X. Alternatively, some jurisdictions, including A &B, follow Y, because of 1, 2, and 3".

3) Heavy

4) $$, and not that useful later

5) Some are better than others. Farnsworth was good. Others not so much. Con Law books seem to often be particularly egregious.

Great thread.
10.11.2008 9:19pm
Karl Lembke (mail) (www):
This is from a perspective out in left field.

I never studied law, but did study physics. In my senior year, we were all surveyed as to whether we thought one of two proposed textbooks was better for the introductory classes. The choices were Tipler, which we had been using, and Resnick &Halliday. Resnick &Halliday was the overwhelming favorite.

One of my professors observed that no students seem to like the textbook they first learned physics out of, and will always vote for a different one.

He thinks it's because learning physics is hard, and no matter how it's presented, it takes a lot of work to acquire the ideas and modes of thought inherent in the field. So the first textbook you're exposed to will have been very hard reading. Years later, after you've learned the basics of the subject, when you read a different textbook and encounter the same ideas again, well by Jove, you already know them, so that textbook is a much easier read.

So that's the one you inflict on this year's crop of new students.

Think maybe law works the same way?

................Karl
10.12.2008 1:54pm
Former Law Student:
Law school casebooks aren't textbooks at all. They are collections of publicly available cases without any helpful explanatory notes for the reader. I have often thought that I could easily put together casebook notes by shepardizing the case, finding another case, and putting the word discuss before the parenthetical. In the practice of law, students will need to understand how the rules work to address the more complex problems. When you consider future textbooks, I would urge you to look for a book like George Fisher's Evidence and I promise your textbook ratings will increase and your students will be better prepared for the practice of law.
10.13.2008 12:30am
guest:
Law school textbooks are worthless. Absolutely, one hundred percent worthless. Like the commenter above stated, they aren't even written works; they are a collection of publicly available cases. Students are forced to pay 110 bucks per course for a bunch of words that are free.

Casebooks bring nothing to the table. They add nothing to the learning experience. You read a case, and then after the case there are a bunch of questions. I would read them, and think to myself, "wow, those are interesting questions...sure would be nice if they answered those for us."

I did have a couple textbooks that had problem sets, and those were the most helpful. Stephen Saltzburg's "Evidence: the objection method" did that to a certain extent. Also, Rich Freer's corporations book did that. Without some sort of problem/answer, I don't see what casebooks really bring to the table. Buy E&E instead.
10.14.2008 7:43am