For the past five years, I have been teaching Contracts at the University of Wisconsin Law School using "the Wisconsin materials" (i.e., Stewart Macaulay et al., Contracts: Law in Action). The Wisconsin materials are idiosyncratic in many ways, but one of the most noticeable is that they devote very little space (in the first course) to offer, acceptance, and consideration. In the discussion of Contracts casebooks over at PrawfsBlawg, Ethan Leib notes that he uses the Wisconsin materials, but supplements those topics with Farnsworth. Is that necessary?
Some Contracts casebooks devote a large portion of the text to offer, acceptance, and consideration, and I suspect that this choice is motivated in part by the desire to teach legal reasoning, rather than the desire to convey useful information. That is, information that would be useful beyond the bar exam. The basic themes relating to offer, acceptance, and consideration are easy to grasp, though the variations on those themes are endless, mind-numbing, and irrelevant to most lawyers.
One of the great things about the Wisconsin materials is that they highlight the importance of contracts, not just the "law of contracts." And, as readers of Conglomerate know, I think contracts are pretty interesting and important.
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1. Posted by Beth Young on May 21, 2007 @ 22:06 | Permalink
I loved learning Contracts using the Wisconsin materials (I had John Kidwell who was an amazing teacher), and I felt it gave me a much more realistic and holistic view of the subject matter. I was able to see doctrinal connections among seemingly disparate fact patterns about a third of the way through the semester rather than struggling to do so at exam time. My friends at other schools who were doing offer, acceptance, etc. saw the process as very mechanical and legalistic and, unsurprisingly, deadly boring.