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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Digital Casebooks

The Atlantic, Reimagining the Stodgy Law School Casebook for the Digital Age:

The venerable law school casebook has held sway in American law schools since Christopher Langdell created and popularized them at Harvard Law School in the decades around the turn of the century. At first fiercely resisted, they became the dominant way of presenting legal information to students by World War II -- and now, after a hundred or so years, a team at Harvard wants to revamp the casebook, giving it the most significant formal makeover since those early years.

Casebooks contain condensed and annotated legal cases. They are generally put together by a few professors and published in hardback books. Over the last year, Harvard Law professor Jonathan Zittrain has put together a team to create a casebook for the digital age.

Zittrain, developer Dan Collis-Puro, and project manager Laura Miyakawa, will show off the project at Tuesday's Berkman Center lunch at Harvard. You can watch them live at noon eastern.

"Existing casebooks are pretty big. They are pretty expensive. And they stagnate," Miyakawa told me. "What we've been trying to do is create an online casebook that's free, remixable and that can be used not just for a specific class, but for instructors anywhere."

CALI-eLangdell (Hat Tip: Ann Murphy, Best Practices for Legal Education, Law Librarian Blog.)  This sounds much like the eLangdell tool kit being developed by CALI (the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction), which will allow faculty "to use to create, find, organize, and share teaching resources. eLangdell encourages participants to contribute great materials, build on each others' work, and get appropriate credit for their own contributions":

This is your chance to be recognized as a pioneer of the digital casebook.

If you're a law professor at a CALI member school, write all or part of a casebook for eLangdell. We can publish your work and make it available to the law school world through digital reading devices like the Kindle® and iPad™. We may even pay you for your work; see details of the eLangdell Stimulus Project.

Would you like help us pioneer digital casebooks and see your work distributed on electronic reading devices? Contact our Director of Curriculum Development, Deb Quentel.


(Disclosure: I am Vice-President of the Board of Directors of CALI.)

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I crossed my fingers every year that the following year would be the one that brought me electronic versions of my casebooks. Ahhh well - at least there's some hope that future law students might enjoy that perk.

Posted by: TJS | Sep 22, 2010 9:19:31 AM