Thursday, March 10, 2011

Contract Law in America: The Wisconsin Approach

Stewart Macaulay, John A. Kidwell, and William C. Whitford, University of Wisconsin Law School, and Jean Braucher, University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law have posted the first chapter of Contracts: Law in Action (Lexis-Nexis,2010), a casebook embodying the famous Wisconsin approach to that first-year contracts course. Here is the abstract:
The introduction to this first year casebook describes the history of contract law courses in America over the last hundred years as well as the central features of the law in action approach to the study of contracts. The law in action approach questions overemphasis on legal rules. Law students must learn contract doctrine as one tool, but this is just the beginning of what they need to know. Lawyers in practice are more likely to play an advisory role in the planning and adjustment of contractual relationships than they are to litigate fine points of doctrine. Legal rights typically serve as but a vague bargaining entitlement, with considerations about maintaining valuable relationships and reputation often more important. Lawyers must learn to understand the business context of their clients’ deals. The law in action approach introduces students to the practical issues that lawyers face. It also examines the gap between the announced purposes of legal rules and their impact and the ways in which business norms and other imperatives can be more powerful “law” than law on the books.