American Contract Law for a Global Age: Chapters 1 and 2
AMERICAN CONTRACT LAW FOR A GLOBAL AGE, CALI eLangdell Press, 2017
122 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2018 Last revised: 17 Nov 2018
Date Written: December 1, 2017
American Contract Law for a Global Age by Franklin G. Snyder and Mark Edwin Burge of Texas A&M University School of Law is a casebook designed primarily for the first-year Contracts course as it is taught in American law schools, but is configured so as to be usable either as a primary text or a supplement in any upper-level United States or non-U.S. class that seeks to introduce American contract law to students. This excerpt contains the first six units (two chapters) of the 28-unit complete text. As an eLangdell text published by CALI, it offers maximum flexibility for students to read either in hard copy or electronic format on most electronic devices.
Why “American” Contract Law? Nearly all American contract law texts focus on U.S. law. This volume simply makes that focus explicit. Modern American lawyers face an increasingly global world, and the book makes it clear that American law is not the only important commercial law regime in the world. But much of the value that the cosmopolitan and transnational American-trained lawyer brings to the table is an understanding of the contract law of the United States. To this end, the venerable English cases that exemplify common law doctrine are here presented not in their hoary 19th century settings, but in the 21st century forms that students can intuitively grasp.
Convenient Unit Structure. An important feature of this book is that it is divided into twenty-eight units (spread among nine chapters), each of which is structured in the same order: (1) The “Focus of This Unit” section provides background information and suggestions about what students might want to watch out for with respect to the materials that follow. (2) The “Cases and Materials” section includes the key materials — cases, statutes, and (occasionally) secondary materials — that the students will study. This section also includes pointed “Review Questions” after each case designed to help students figure out the relevance of what they just read. (3) Finally, the “Problems” section is where (after the introductory units) students are given at least three substantial problems, the answers to which (or arguments to be made about each) can be found in the Cases and Materials.
Starting with a Contract. A common complaint among contracts professors (and students) is the degree to which the Contracts class — the doctrinal cornerstone of transactional law practice — unduly emphasizes litigation. This book seeks to ameliorate this problem from the very beginning by starting not with a case, but with a contract itself. Adapting an approach pioneered and advocated by Carol Sanger, the first two units of this book deal with a single contract: the surrogacy agreement between William Stern and Mary Beth and Richard Whitehead that formed the basis of New Jersey courts’ In re Baby M opinions both upholding and striking down the contract. The opinions touch on nearly every issue that students will see in upcoming chapters: capacity, consideration, formation, defenses, public policy, and remedies. This book goes one step ahead of the opinions, however, by starting with the contract itself, emphasizing the parties’ agreement and forward-thinking transactional perspectives rather than merely a post-mortem on what went wrong.
Worldwide Availability. While the eLangdell project in general, and this book in particular, have been primarily designed for classes taught in law schools in the United States, the authors hope that these materials can and will be used globally. Given the increasing import of international business and the ongoing importance of the United States as a trading partner, institutions outside the U.S. may find a basic survey course in American contract law to be useful, and this text is both economical and suitable for such use.
Keywords: contracts, casebook, 1L, formation, consideration, Uniform Commercial Code, contract defenses, contract terms, contract interpretation, contract remedies, non-parties
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