About two years ago Pepperdine law prof Robert Anderson blogged about saving his contract students about $200 each by using an older Contracts casebook. Now he writes:
This year I am doing the same thing with my Corporations class, although I’m not buying all the books myself as I did in my Contracts class. (The expense was minimal but keeping track of hundreds of pounds of books was a nuisance.) Corporations changes a bit faster than Contracts, especially to the extent one teaches securities regulation as a part of the class. Still 90%+ of the material hasn’t changed since the 2010 edition date.
This practice does not work well for all subject areas. For example, I do not assign older editions in Securities Regulation class, which changes a bit too fast.
I hope other law school professors will follow this lead and assign older editions, especially for 1L classes such as Torts, Contracts, and Property. Such a practice adds little to the professor’s workload (and may actually be easier as there is no need to update a syllabus for a new edition), and would save law students tens of millions of dollars in the aggregate. There are many ways to lighten a law student’s financial load, if only we take a moment to put ourselves in their shoes from time to time.
Good idea. Not unlike law libraries that do not acquire every annual edition of commoditized deskbooks, handbooks and manuals because of very minimal editorial changes. — Joe