June 25, 2013

Looking for law textbooks that incorporate problem-solving teaching

By Jill Gross

As many of our readers know, the ABA Dispute Resolution Section, LEAPS project sponsors a website that includes resources for teaching practical problem-solving and professional skills.  To faciliate being a resource for professors who would like to move away from lecture-based formats in teaching “doctrinal” courses, the LEAPS executive committee is developing a list of textbooks that incorporate practical problem-solving and professional skills into the teaching of subject areas that have traditionally been taught in a lecture-based, case analysis format.  Note that books focused on ADR, clinical education, and legal writing are not included because nearly all of those books incorporate practical problem-solving and skills.

I have reproduced the current draft of the list below.  Feel free to take a look at this list, and circulate it to your colleagues, as you select coursebooks for next year.  In addition, if you would like to recommend additional books for this list, please forward the information to Deborah T. Eisenberg at Deisenberg@law.umaryland.edu.

She will post an updated list to the LEAPS website in mid-July.

 Legal Texts that Incorporate Practical Problem-Solving and
Professional Skills Development

This list identifies texts that incorporate practical problem-solving and professional skills into the teaching of doctrinal areas that traditionally have been taught through lecture and appellate case analysis.  It does not include texts focused on clinical education, legal writing, legal methods, trial practice, or dispute resolution, because most of the texts in those areas incorporate practical
problem-solving and practical skills.  (Some of the descriptions below are copied from the publisher’s websites.)

TEXTBOOK SERIES

Several publishers have series that incorporate exercises designed to build practical problem-solving and professional skills.  These include:

Carolina Academic Press

Context and Practice Series

Series designed to make it easy for professors to incorporate multiple methods of instruction, problem-solving and simulation
exercises, and context-based instruction into their teaching.  Subject areas include legal research, torts, business, civil procedure, criminal law, juvenile justice, disability rights, energy law, federal taxation, intellectual property, international law,
products liability, property, remedies, wills, trusts and estates, and workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis

Skills & Values Series

Texts cover a variety of subject areas, including administrative law, alternative dispute resolution, civil procedure, constitutional
law, contracts, evidence, discovery practice, evidence, federal income taxation, intellectual property, negotiation, and trusts and estates.

West Academic

Developing Professional Skills Series

Supplemental books with exercises designed to build professional skills.  Subject areas include business associations, property, civil procedure, and contracts.

Bridge to Practice Series

Books that include simulation exercises to teach how doctrine and rules work in realistic settings. Subject areas include evidence, property, civil procedure, and criminal procedure.

The Learning Series

Case books that encourage active student involvement in the learning process.  Subject areas include evidence and civil procedure, with more to come.

Experiencing Law Series

These primary coursebooks cover the doctrine traditionally covered in the classroom while simultaneously offering experiential exercises to illustrate the concepts of the subject being taught. The books feature the key cases and cover the doctrine in much the same fashion as other standard casebooks. The books in this series will help support a course that balances traditional case analysis with statutory and rule analysis and experiential education.

INDIVIDUAL TEXTBOOKS

Some publishers have individual case books and texts that incorporate practical-problem-solving, simulation exercises, and skills
development.

Accounting

Matthew J. Barrett & David Richard Herwitz, Accounting for Lawyers (Foundation Press) (uses actual financial statements from big companies to illustrate concepts and uses comprehensive problems to teach the accounting topics and issues most likely to confront lawyers).

Bankruptcy

Linda J. Rusch & Stephen L. Sepinuck, Problems and Materials on Bankruptcy (West) (“designed to give students experience with bankruptcy practice, providing more than 125 problems designed to facilitate learning, focus class discussion, and test understanding.”)

Civil Procedure

John, T. Cross, et al., Civil Procedure: Cases, Problems and Exercises (West) (uses “an extensive set of problems and exercises, which helps students become accustomed to reading and using the rule itself, rather than relying on a court’s paraphrasing of that rule. The book uses cases decided in the last decade, underscoring that civil procedure is a subject in constant flux, and
incorporates the 2007 complete revision of the Federal Rules.”)

Contracts

David Zarfes and Michael Bloom, Contracts and Commercial Transactions (Wolters Kluwer) (“text that immerses the reader in real agreements made between sophisticated parties—so the reader can develop the ability to read, understand, and draft contracts effectively.”)  

Corporations

Lee Harris, Cases and Materials on Corporations and Other Business Entities (Aspen) (uses skills-driven exercises from actual disputes and questions to simulate what lawyers do).

Environmental Law

Environmental Law Practice: Problems and Exercises for Skills Development, (Carolina Academic Press 3d ed. 2010) (teaches
environmental law through problems and exercises the place the student in key roles played by environmental lawyers)

Family Law

Douglas Abrams, et al., Contemporary Family Law (West) (supplements family law with chapters on lawyering, private ordering, and alternative dispute resolution and “emphasized the importance of legal practice issues by placing the lawyering chapter at the beginning of the book, and by using problems that enable students to apply doctrine.”).

Krause, Elrod and Oldham’s Family Law: Cases, Comments and Questions, (West 7th ed) (emphasizes “practical skills and comparative material”)

Professional Responsibility

Lisa G. Lerman & Philip G. Schrag, Ethical Problems in the Practice of Law (Aspen) (places student in the role of lawyer in analyzing problems that are based on real cases and real-life situations that lawyers are likely to experience during their first few years of practice).

Property

R. Wilson Freyermuth, et al., Property and Lawyering (West 2010) (combines “the theory and analysis of a traditional casebook with reality-based lawyering exercises that reinforce doctrinal knowledge, develop lawyering skills and introduce professional values”).

Sales

Linda J. Rusch & Stephen L. Sepinuck, Sales and Leases:  A Problem-Solving Approach (West) (keeps “students focused on understanding and applying the relevant provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code and other related statutes” by using primarily text and problems, with few cases).

Tax

Samuel A. Donaldson, Federal Income Taxation of Individuals:  Cases, Problems and Materials (West) (uses a “building-block” format and “over 90 detailed problems” that require readers “to research the Code and Regulations and apply complex rules to basic fact patterns.”)

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