Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 46, No. 3 (September 1996), pp. 430-444


The casebook method of teaching is, in fact, an exercise in futility. It is the students themselves who are expected to build up a picture of law from the few generally disconnected scraps available to them and with virtually no tools. Students are left to guess what the editors' view of the law is rather than getting to what the law is all about. Instead of looking at the reasoning of a case in the light of the developed conceptual thought that preceded it, and of its place in a structured web of reasoned principle, they are provided in the first place with a single instance that justifies itself only by reference to particular features, leaving much to be understood. Much of importance to the case is left unsupported and unsaid because it rests on established principle. The students study, as it were, the status of a grain of sand by walking around inside the grain and without reference to the rest of the beach, the surf, and the sky. The problem is compounded when the discussion is limited largely to the concept Is it fair?