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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Choosing a Casebook: Civil Procedure

Please use the comments section to share thoughts on choosing a casebook in Civil Procedure.  (See here and here for a discussion of the Course Preparation Project.)

Posted by Matt Bodie on May 10, 2007 at 04:24 PM in Teaching Law | Permalink


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There's no shortage of choices for a civ pro casebook, and a lot of them are quite good. A lot depends on how you like to teach the course. I switch books every five years or so (yes, it's a ridiculous amount of work retooling the course for different books, but I find it keeps me fresh). For a newcomer to the course, Yeazell may be the easiest place to start. It was my first book, and it was a smart choice. The cases all teach very well, and the teacher's manual is uncommonly helpful. When I wanted to incorporate more problems and in-class simulations into the course, I switched to the Subrin, Minow book, and found that the Practice Exercises worked very nicely. Several other books similarly include case files and/or exercises. This year, when I was ready to decrease the exercises and was looking for a different perspective, I switched to Rowe, Sherry, and Tidmarsh. It's short enough that I can actually assign and cover every page in the book, which I like and the students really like. But it also manages to include excellent "Perspectives" pieces on each topic, so it makes it easy to bring in broader comparative and theoretical perspectives on procedure. Maybe I'm just easy to please, but I honestly do find so much to like in each of the different books. Each book teaches a bit differently, so the key is finding the book that works with a particular approach to teaching the course.

Posted by: Howard Erichson | May 23, 2007 6:05:48 PM

I am switching casebooks this year from the Babcock, Massaro and Spaulding Civil Procedure Cases and Problems (third edition) to the Ides and May book. The Babcock, Massaro book made some interesting choices, i.e. opening with Hamdi v. Rumsfield as an introduction to due process, but lacked some essential case discussions. I am opting this year for a more "traditional" treatment of the subject.

Glannons is hands down the best Civ Pro supplementary material available. The problems really help students process the course.

Posted by: Catherine Dunham | May 22, 2007 11:32:26 AM

Just a student's opinion: Yeazell is incredibly dull and the notes are never helpful. The cases are poorly edited (some are much too long; some omit important information), and it just feels (as Prof. Stancil mentioned above) "sloppy." I highly recommend against using this casebook, especially if you plan to teach rules and pleadings first, jurisdiction second (as at my school). Please use a casebook that follows the same organization as your course! We spent the first semester reading (rhetorical?) questions in the notes we couldn't underestand, not having covered jurisdiction.

Posted by: 1elle | May 15, 2007 10:54:51 AM

I'll second Steve's kudos for Glannon's.

I'll also second Bobby's sentiments on Ben Spencer's book. I've looked at the online version (or at least a sample chapter), and it looks really neat-o, with hyperlinks to all the right things for more details. I also got the hardcopy and flipped through it -- very sleek, with easy-to-find pointers and cross-references. I'm considering switching. One downside is that if you are a LEXIS person (I am not), you may feel guilty--I think all of the links take you to WestLaw-sponsored materials.

Posted by: Scott Dodson | May 11, 2007 2:15:18 PM

There's a new entry into the field that looks absolutely terrific: Ben Spencer's "Civil Procedure: A Contemporary Approach." It looks extremely accessible, but also content rich. I believe there may also be an online companion version available for students. Definitely worth a look.

Posted by: Bobby Chesney | May 11, 2007 11:06:12 AM

Understanding that it's a "boring," and according to at least one acquaintance, "anti-intellectual" choice, I nonetheless had a good experience teaching Yeazell's text this semester. The latter half of the current edition is surprisingly sloppily edited, but the students liked it and it made for a relatively straightforward initial prep. Not the deepest or most systematic treatment of the subject by any means, but not a bad place to start for a junior faculty member looking to maximize research and writing time.

Posted by: Paul Stancil | May 11, 2007 10:09:36 AM

I was a huge fan of Civil Procedure: Doctrine, Practice and Context by Subrin, Minow, Brodin and Main, but then again, the course I was in was taught by Prof. Subrin. The cases are well edited, the exercises are thought provoking and the two case studies in the back were great to do in class. Plus, it takes a bit of a more holistic approach to the law, something which is often lacking in 1L casebooks.

Posted by: Ben Snitkoff | May 10, 2007 7:07:03 PM

The ninth edition of the same book is even better -- I've used it twice in 1L Civil Procedure classes, and have had wonderful experiences both times. And I agree about Glannon's -- more than any other supplement, the students find the Civil Procedure E&E extremely useful and helpful.

Posted by: Steve Vladeck | May 10, 2007 6:18:56 PM

I thought Cases and Materials on Pleading and Procedure, State and Federal 8th (University Casebook Series) by Geoffrey C., Jr. Hazard, Colin C. Tait, William A. Fletcher was a great book.

And I would strongly recommend: Civil Procedure: Examples & Explanations 5th edition by Joseph W. Glannon.

Posted by: Alex | May 10, 2007 5:46:01 PM

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