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Monday, March 16, 2009

Getting New Prawfs Off the Ground

Earlier I received an email from someone about to start teaching. He asked:

This fall, I will begin teaching at ___.  As of writing, I anticipate that my classes will consist of torts, criminal procedure, and American legal history.  As I prepare for the academic year, I wonder whether you know of any source(s) for course outlines, syllabi, casebook recommendations, and other materials relating to these classes, as may have been provided and collected by other professors.  I intend on hitting up my future colleagues for these items, but I'd like to cast a broader net and thereby (hopefully) become aware of as many alternative course strategies as possible.  I would genuinely appreciate any guidance you might provide on this score.

Let's make this an open thread for prawf-folks to post links or citations to sources that will help the newbies hit the road running. Any thoughts? I know there's a AALS Criminal Justice bank of sources that Susan Rozelle has put together and I saw something recently that Joseph Tsai and some others are putting together for multimedia sources in criminal law.  I'm also quite certain that I've read a few things from J.Legal Educ on this topic (ie, with respect to helpful hints for the new prawf) that are somewhat useful, but I don't remember the titles or authors.  Throw a life preserver out in the comments.

Posted by Administrators on March 16, 2009 at 12:15 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink


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Two years ago we did a "course preparation project" here on the blog. The intro is here:
And here's a post on coursebooks, with numbers for the publishers that Orin talked about:

Let me know if there is interest, and we can do the same thing this year as well.

Posted by: Matt Bodie | Mar 16, 2009 3:13:55 PM

Oh, and I should add that new profs shouldn't hesitate to call the publishing companies to request review copies. The publishing companies LOVE to send review copies to new profs: They'll also send hornbooks, treatises, study guides, you name it, for any course you say you might teach. That's how they get new profs to adopt their books, and so they really really REALLY want you to call them. (I only say this because when I started teaching, I thought I was asking for a huge favor to get review copies, and I was hesitant to do it.)

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Mar 16, 2009 1:25:47 PM

I actually find that Google works OK (OK, not great -- you have to page through a lot of results). There are enough syllabi online that I can usually find 2 or 3 good ones in any subject area.

Posted by: Bruce Boyden | Mar 16, 2009 12:20:53 PM

The Legal Scholarship Blog has links to a variety of resources for new law professors, including recommended casebooks drawn from PrawfsBlawg: http://legalscholarshipblog.com/law-teaching-resources/.

Posted by: Legal Scholarship Blog | Mar 16, 2009 12:11:31 PM

I'd be happy to e-mail anyone my syllabus for investigatory crim pro. Just send me an e-mail.

As for the broader question of which casebooks to use, there is no substitute for getting (free review) copies of the most popular books and seeing which one is likely to match your approach. Casebooks take a wide range of approaches: some are hard and some are easy, some are ideologically neutral or eclectic and some are ideologically charged, some are based on specific methods (statutory interpretation, L&E, CLS) while others are general, etc. To the extent you know which approach you want, that goes a long way towards picking the best book for you.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Mar 16, 2009 10:33:46 AM

For legal history syllabi, consult:


Also, at the border between legal and political history:


Posted by: Dan Ernst | Mar 16, 2009 8:30:34 AM

I hope this is not too presumptuous but may I suggest a peek at my blog from time to time for torts information. I have tried very much to make it academic and I include links to appellate cases when discussing an overview of pain and suffering damage awards for particular body parts. In this way, I've tried to combine practical information and insights with a bit of scholarship. - John

Posted by: John Hochfelder | Mar 16, 2009 4:09:11 AM

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