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Bibliography of American Law School Casebooks

This database presents a comprehensive list of casebooks intended for use in law schools and that were published in the United States from 1871 through the present day.

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In 1871, at Harvard Law School, Christopher Columbus Langdell introduced what would come to be known as the “case method” of legal instruction. Langdell wrote what is considered to be the first casebook, A Selection of Cases on the Law of Contracts, that same year, collecting together cases that presented the then-current state of contract law for his students to study. The principle behind the case method is that students read assigned cases and then engage in a Socratic style question-and-answer analysis with their professor, the goal for the students being to understand the case law by grasping the thinking that went into how the decision was reached and how it was applied. For more than 133 years, the case method has continued to spread and evolve, and today, some form of it is used in every law school in the United States, with casebooks remaining the primary vehicle of legal education. In Langdell's day, casebooks were published by multiple different publishers, but today casebooks in the United States are primarily published by Thomson West, Aspen Publishing, and LexisNexis.

Although much has been written on the analysis of the case method and the evolution of the content of casebooks, until the publication of Douglas W. Lind's Bibliography of American Law School Casebooks, 1870-2004, no attempt had been made to identify all of the law school casebooks produced in the United States. This database is derived from the first and second editions of Lind's Bibliography and presents as comprehensive as possible a list of those casebooks intended for use in law schools and published in the United States from their inception in 1871.


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