Law profs to plot end of (printed) casebooks

by on September 15, 2008  •  In Uncategorized

Books a weighty issue for law schools


…[R]epresentatives from law schools around the country, combined with book publishers and e-book device makers Amazon and Sony Electronics Inc., are expected to gather in Seattle on Sept. 27. Abandoning the centuries-old paper course book is on the agenda.

It's becoming increasingly clear that the halls of academia are full of opportunity for Seattle-based Inc. to market its Kindle e-book reader. And Amazon's presence at the Seattle workshop has gotten the attention of publishers….

The attendees will come from law schools including Seattle University, Stanford, Vanderbilt, New York University, Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, St. Louis University, Elon University, Florida State, Rutgers-Camden and Washburn University.

"What this workshop will do is bring the reformers of legal academics together — the most distinguished scholars who have built their reputations on pedagogical reforms," said David Skover, Seattle University law professor and co-organizer of the event.

Attendees also hail from the National Conference of Bar Examiners, LexisNexis Law School Publishing, Carolina Academic Press, Oxford University Press, Adobe Systems Inc. and Microsoft.

"There's a growing movement now in legal education to include serious skills training at a more intensive level than what the academy has done for a century now," Skover said. "Many of us see the print book as a major constraint on any change."

Skover and [Professor Ronald] Collins have co-authored several papers on the subject. In a recent memo to precede the workshop, they wrote, "Law students are burdened by the cost, weight, excess and contents of print casebooks." The memo contained facts such as the weight of the books, and that a typical first-year law student confronts more than 8,700 pages of text.

"The vast majority of my traditional colleagues are wedded to the printed case book," Skover said. "People often teach as they were taught."

Collins, 59, put it more bluntly: "One of the main obstacles to this whole reform is people over 40. … In terms of the print world, I'm more than willing to put the dagger in its heart. I have no problem at all because it's going to happen."…

"When you think that … every course book that a law student buys in three years can pretty much be kept in one Kindle or one Sony reader, that is remarkable," he said. "That's remarkable!"…



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