Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Death Of The Casebook

The Law Dean's blog recently asked if the casebook is still a necessary tool for law school. With the costs skyrocketing, and each new edition containing only marginal differences, is it really in the students' best interests to continue to require a casebook for class?

From the blog:
"It is 2013, and I (I. Richard Gershon) decided not to use a casebook when I taught Wills and Estates this semester. The casebook I had used for over two decades had come out in yet another new edition, which had a price tag of around $200. The difference between the newest edition and the older editions was pretty marginal.  The authors added some new cases and moved some old materials to different parts of the book. I could have used an older edition, and supplemented my own materials to reduce student costs, but I decided to create and post my own materials on TWEN, instead.


When you consider that a student will take approximately 20 [closer to 30 at my law school!] classes in law school, and that casebooks cost around $200 each, doesn’t it make sense to move away from using casebooks for our classes?

Alternatively, doesn’t it make sense to use freely available materials from a source like CALI?  CALI has been a leader in this effort with their eLangdell initiative."

Dean Gershon has some very good points -- especially considering that most of the cases used in casebooks are in the public domain and freely available. While it does take time to upload the material and create commentary, a professor can tailor the material specifically to his or her class, and the students will appreciate the substantial savings (to the tune of $5,000).

This looks like a win-win situation for all involved.

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