Casebooks and the Future of Contracts Pedagogy

Carol L. Chomsky

Volume 66, Issue 4, 879-898

Contracts teachers have long relied on the casebooks they adopt to help them build and shape both the content and the pedagogy of their contracts classes. The Knapp, Crystal, & Prince casebook has been particularly noteworthy in this regard, helping generations of new and experienced law teachers learn and explore contracts doctrine under the guidance of Chuck Knapp and his co-authors. As casebook authors take seriously the forces and trends in academic publishing, the casebooks are bound to change in significant ways, leading to innovation and even transformation of the course itself. Driving the change are at least six developments and concerns: (1) recognition that the course must include more attention to the concepts and skills that matter to practicing lawyers; (2) new accreditation standards that require identification of learning outcomes expected from our courses; (3) the need (if not yet the reality) to have the bar exam be focused less on knowledge and more on skills; (4) perhaps most importantly, increasing knowledge about what good learning practice requires in the classroom; (5) availability of new technologies to deliver more dynamic content; and (6) changing demands from publishers and students, partly as a result of the other forces mentioned. Our teaching is already adapting to the new law school environment, and visionary casebooks, in contracts as elsewhere in the curriculum, can and should lead the way.

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