Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The Case Against Commercial Casebooks

W. David Ball (Santa Clara; Google Scholar) & Michelle Oberman (Santa Clara; Google Scholar), The Case Against Commercial Casebooks, 71 J. Legal Educ. __ (2023):

CasebooksOpen-source, online casebooks are a free alternative to the for-profit commercial casebooks that dominate the legal academy. They offer a host of benefits for students and professors alike. Online casebooks are surprisingly easy to create: literally the click of a button allows you to “clone” existing open-source casebooks, many of which closely track the cases and flow of the most popular commercial casebooks. Once “cloned,” it is simple to incorporate your own or others’ material, enabling professors to center their personal pedagogical goals and values as they train the next generation of lawyers.

Open-source casebooks are also free, permitting professors to meaningfully offset some of the educational costs incurred by our students. As law schools reflect on how they might build institutions that are more diverse, equitable and inclusive, open-source casebooks stand out as an obvious, attainable way to make meaningful progress towards those goals.

This Article makes the case for switching, then outlines practical strategies for easing the transition, whether by adopting modules from existing casebooks, or by cloning books and adopting them as your own.

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