Saving law students cold hard cash by opting out of requiring new casebook editions

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

1 Comment

  1. Speaking only for myself, the Cal Civ Pro casebook I and co-authors do (West, 5th ed) changes too much, from edition to edition, for my students to buy old editions. Same with my Int’l text (6th ed). IMHO, this thread seems to ignore that, assuming significantly updated course books, it’s a nightmare for students who try to save this way.

    For the multiple years in between editions, I always tell my students—well in advance of the course start date (e.g., early July ’17 for my mid-Aug. ’17 class)—about the numerous used editions available online. Of course, there’s nothing novel about this reminder.

    And for several years, I’ve done my own, free to students, fed civ pro casebooks. See , scroll to FED CIV PRO. I ask only for a voluntary donations to one my school’s diversity projects. So profs concerned about the high cost of casebooks can make them free for their students.


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