Thursday, March 26, 2009
Thinking more about the entry-level hires today raised one question: Is there anything property-specific that isn’t covered in the literature on getting started in legal academia? With only one year under my belt, I don't think I have a lot of insight on this topic, but there is one thing I wish I'd put more thought into; choosing a property casebook.
Like most new property people, I adopted the Dukeminier, Krier, Alexander, & Schill textbook. This decision turned out just peachy, but it wasn’t terribly well reasoned; I used the Dukeminier as a student, it's got some neat cases, and--as everybody told me at the AALS New Teachers’ Workshop--it has "an amazing teacher's manual."
Wrapping up a year with the Dukeminier (who taught at Kentucky) here are some thoughts (from least to most serious):
(1) First, I really miss the look and feel of the Fifth Edition. The Fifth Edition, short and squat, had personality. It was a textbook (with a potbelly!). A textbook that could beat up other textbooks and eat a bratwurst at the same time.
(2) Second, the teacher’s manual is actually pretty “meh.” It provides nice summaries of the cases, but it’s no more comprehensive than the supplemental material that comes with the Merrill & Smith or the Freyermuth, Organ, Noble-Allgire and Winokur. Why don’t the other (really good) teacher’s manuals get more airtime?
(3) Third, is it good for property scholarship that so many young scholars are introduced to the basic concepts through the same set of materials? If everyone’s first thoughts about adverse possession are filtered through the lens of Van Valkenburg v. Lutz does that have long-term effects for the profession? I've suggested elsewhere that the portrayal of holographic wills in Dukeminier's Trusts & Estates textbook has negatively impacted the academy’s perception of homemade testaments. Are the biases of the Dukeminier property book having a similar effect?