Lawyers & Stories
SLEVINSON at MAIL.LAW.UTEXAS.EDU
Thu Aug 7 14:56:51 PDT 1997
Doug is, of course, right, but the notorious problems with the case method are
1) deciding at what level of generality to pitch the fact. As a casebook
editor, I have wrestled with this frequently in regard to editing cases. It
is interesting to compare, for example, our treatment of Vinson's opinion in
Youngstown Steel, which includes far more of the factual surround as
perceived by Vinson (i.e., we were in the first great battle of World War
III), than can be found in any of the other casebooks. This is one of the
reasons, incidentally, why we end up omitting a lot of cases (e.g., NY Times
v. Sullivan) that are found in other casebooks, because the stories don't
come cheap in terms of the space they take.
2) what can be inferred from a single case. Every lawyer knows the
importance of "good plaintiffs," but the best plaintiff, obviously, may be
altogether atypical. How many widows and orphans are evicted on Christmas
Eve, after all, as against far more mundane rent-avoiders? And so on?
> The case method is essentially a method of teaching from a
>particular form of story.
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