Sunday, May 3, 2015

Casebooks shape legal minds

Do judges read casebooks? No, but their future law clerks do. And future lawyers—the ones who will soon be presenting cases in court—do. Some of the people who are reading casebooks today will be working on my opinions just six months from now; others will be presenting cases in a few years. Sure, teachers in the classroom make a big difference, but ultimately what lawyers take away from their Law school experience is what is in the casebooks. Casebooks provide a common language that transcends particular law schools or generations of lawyers—I can usually get a knowing nod from my law clerks when I speak about the ships Peerless—and casebooks also provide young lawyers with a fundamental outlook on the legal landscape, which in turn shapes their approach to cases. Eventually, lawyers may outgrow their contracts or torts casebooks, but it takes many years of practice. Some never do.
Judge Alex Kozinski, Who Gives a Hoot About Legal Scholarship?, 37 Hous. L. Rev. 295, 298 (2000) (footnote omitted).

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