The Course Source: The Casebook Evolved

Author:Stephen M. Johnson
Position:W.F.G. Professor of Law, Mercer University Law School. B.S. (Comp. Sci.); J.D. Villanova University; LL.M. George Washington University School of Law. The author is a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction.
Pages:591-654
SUMMARY

Most traditional law school casebooks and course books are not designed to facilitate adoption of a variety of teaching methods that are necessary to educate a changing student body. This Article outlines a vision for the course source, and the new generation of teaching materials created to replace the traditional law casebook.

 
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592 CAPITAL UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [44:591
instruction.
8
Although there is still a place for that method in legal
education,
9
other methods of instructionthe carriage bolts and lag screws
of modern legal educationcannot be hammered down with the traditional
casebook.
Several influential studies of legal education conclude that law schools
should focus more heavily on training students in professionalism and in
skills vital to law practice.
10
In addition, the American Bar Association
(ABA) recently amended its accreditation standards for law schools to
require the inclusion of more assessment and experiential learning in their
curriculum.
11
Over the last several decades, many faculty members have
moved away from the traditional Socratic dialogue and case method form of
instruction, at least in upper-division courses.
12
Although many more are
receptive to such change, the Socratic dialogue and the case method provide
faculty with a high level of control over the classroom, and faculty members
are reluctant to abandon those methods unless tools are available to ease the
transition to other teaching methods.
13
The traditional casebook does not
provide these tools. Faculty members constantly identify a lack of teaching
materials as a major impediment to the adoption of the teaching methods
necessary to educate todays law students for todays law practice.
14
There
is a great demand for turnkey solutions to implement new teaching
methods.
15
8
See infra Part II.A.
9
See Welch, supra note 4, at 289.
10
See infra Part II.B.
11
See AM. BAR ASSN, ABA STANDARDS AND RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR APPROVAL OF
LAW SCHOOLS 20152016, SECTION OF LEG AL EDUCATION & ADMISSIONS TO T HE BAR,
Standards 302, 303, 314, and 315 (2015).
12
See infra notes 6987 and accompanying text.
13
See Skover, supra note 4, at 289; Transcript, Workshop on the Future of the Legal
Course Book, 33 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 292, 299 (2010) [hereinafter Workshop] (remarks o f
Gene Koo).
14
See, e.g., Skover, supra note 4, at 289; DAVID I.C. THOMSON, LAW 2.0: LEGAL
EDUCATION FOR A DIGITAL AGE 131 (2009); Rhee, supra note 4, at 337 n.157 (noting the lack
of availability of case studies); Larry A. DiMatteo, Contract Stories: Importance of the
Contextual Approach to Law, 88 WASH. L. REV. 1287, 1293 (2013) (describin g the limited
universe of drafting exercises and problems in contracts case books).
15
See infra Part II.B.
2016] THE COURSE SOURCE 593
Teaching materials and pedagogy are intimately connected,
16
and major
shifts in pedagogy can be achieved through the evolution of teaching
materials.
17
For instance, when faculty began to adopt the case method of
teaching in the nineteenth century instead of lecturing from treatises and
commentaries, the transition was facilitated by the development of the
prototypical Langdellian casebook.
18
When the wave of legal realism hit
law schools in the middle of the twentieth century, new casebooks began to
incorporate material other than cases, such as statutes and explanatory text,
to aid faculty who were inclined to shift their teaching focus.
19
Similarly,
when faculty began to incorporate a problem-based approach in their
teaching, casebooks incorporated more problems.
20
Casebooks must evolve
to provide faculty with the tools to redesign their courses before there can
be widespread adoption of new teaching methods that a have a rich focus on
skills, professionalism, experiential learning, and assessment.
21
In designing
the modern casebook, authors should follow the credo of influential
16
In discussing why he authors casebooks, Professor Myron Moskovitz writes, “My main
goal in writing a casebook is not scholarship, but better pedagogy. Having taught for many
years, I’ve learned a thing or two about law students—what motivates them and how they
learn. . . . My main job as a casebook author is to make learning law as easy and fun for the
students as the subject matter permits.” Myron Moskovitz, On Writing a Casebook, 23
SEATTLE U. L. REV. 1019, 102223 (2000).
17
See, e.g., Anders Walker, The Anti-Case Method: Herber t Wechsler and the Political
History of the Criminal Law Course, 7 O HIO ST. J. CRIM. L. 217, 218 (2009) (describing the
manner in which Herbert Wechsler’s 1941 criminal law textboo k synthesized social science
materials with cases to transform criminal law teaching from the case method to a more open-
ended philosophical approach).
18
See Stephen M. Johnson, Teaching for Tomorrow: Utilizing Technology to Implement
the Reforms of MacCrate, Carnegie, and Best Practices, 92 NEB. L. REV. 46, 77 (2013);
Garvey & Zinkin, supra note 4, at 10506.
19
See Johnson, supra note 18, at 77; Stephen R. Alton, Roll Over Langdell, Tell Llewellyn
the News: A Brief History of American Legal Education, 35 OKLA. CITY U. L. REV. 339, 355
56 (2010).
20
See Johnson, supra note 18, at 7778; Workshop, supra note 13, at 298 (remarks of
Michael Schwartz).
21
Although legal publishers are marketing an array of secondary teaching materials, such
as skills books and law stories books that faculty can incorporate into their course design, see
infra notes 209215 and accompanying text, those materials are not integrated into traditional
casebooks, and adoption of the secondary materials imposes additional costs (and physical
burdens) on students, see, e.g., Skover, supra note 4, at 289.
594 CAPITAL UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [44:591
American architect Louis Sullivan, who counseled, “[F]orm ever follows
function . . . .”
22
Technology should play a central role in the evolution of the casebook.
Todays students are digital natives,
23
and technology has played a central
role in their education beginning in elementary school.
24
The evolved
casebook should be an e-book, one unlike any e-book legal publishers have
marketed in the past.
25
Rather than a traditional casebook, it should be a
“course source,” a one-stop shop for all of a faculty members teaching
resource needs. The Carnegie Foundation Report, Educating Lawyers:
Prepa ration for the Profession of Law (Carnegie Report),
26
stressed the
importance of training students in the knowledge, skills and values necessary
to the legal profession.
27
A course source should recognize that those three
apprenticeships are interconnected. Additionally, a faculty member needs
the tools to train students in all of those areas, rather than assume that a
separate class focusing on the legal profession or research and writing will
develop the students skills and values.
28
In addition to the cases, statutes,
notes, and problems included in casebooks today, a course source should
include simulations, drafting, research, counseling, negotiation and other
skills-related exercises, professionalism hypotheticals and problems, as well
as quizzes and a variety of formative assessment tools that faculty can
incorporate into their courses.
29
As an e-book, it should take advantage of
the wealth of materials available online and in a variety of media formats,
by incorporating links to content to put the cases, materials, and disputes in
the book in context, as well as to provide a fuller and richer understanding
of the materials.
30
Ideally, a course source would be created and distributed
22
Louis H. Sullivan, The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered, LIPPINCOT TS
MAG., Mar. 1896, at 408.
23
This term means th at they rely on computers and video for their education and
entertainment. See infra note 148 and accompanying text.
24
See infra Part III.
25
Many e-books for the law school market are little more than electronic versions of a
traditional casebook that may have incorporated a few hyperlinks to some background
material or secondary sources. See Johnson, supra note 18, at 78.
26
WILLIAM M. SULLIVAN ET AL., EDUCATING LAWYERS: PREPARATION FOR THE
PROFESSION OF LAW (2007) [hereinafter CARNEGIE REPORT].
27
See id.
28
See infra Part V.B.2V.B.5.
29
See infra Part V.B.2V.B.4.
30
See infra Part V.B.5.

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