Forums General discussion Not-a-casebook

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    • #443
      Avatar photoMichael Madison

      As the new (chronological) year is about to begin, here’s a blue sky topic:

      Would anyone like to join me in creating a version of the casebook that isn’t really a casebook at all, that uses the current version as the backbone of something that anchors a more radical rethinking of law school pedagogy?

      My thinking is this:

      I taught the book this Fall, and the course went just fine. The students liked the fact that the materials were free; adopting a new text gave me a good excuse to re-balance topics after years of teaching from Dinwoodie/Janis (a book that I like, btw). But the conceptual template for the course remains a very traditional “this is trademark law and policy,” starting with some history and theory, progressing through what a mark is, how a mark is created, enforced, and exploited, and occasionally talking about modestly new problems (intermediaries, internet stuff) and concerns and complications (free speech, branding, advertising, etc.). If that template embeds a vision of what students do with their TM course experience, then that vision is this: They’ll go off and practice law, refining their skills with supervision from more experienced mentors, counseling clients from time to time (perhaps as TM lawyers, perhaps not) on TM registration, litigation, and licensing problems.

      If past experience continues to be a guide (I’ve taught IP now for 16 years), however, only a tiny fraction of my TM students will ever use TM law in their careers in any of those ways, and only a subset of those will use TM law *as TM lawyers.* Many of my students will never practice law, or will practice law only for a relatively short time before moving on to other things (hopefully, uses of their law degrees, but perhaps not). On the whole, my students are well aware of that payoff when they start law school. Yet I continue to average 40-45 students per TM semester.

      Maybe the students believe that they are getting something useful and important from the traditional course despite its mis-alignment with their professional goals. If that’s the case, then I shouldn’t change the course. Or, maybe the students believe that they are getting something useful and important from the course despite its traditional character. In that event, I should make the useful content more accessible.

      My bet is on the latter rather than the former. Plus, I’m more than a little antsy about shaking things up. I don’t have a vision of that new course clearly defined in my mind right now. It would still be labeled Trademark Law, and its substance would still focus generally on problems in trademark law and practice. Beyond that, I’m open to a lot of novelty and innovation.

      This may sound a bit crazy. But is anyone else interested in going down this path with me?


    • #455
      Avatar photoLee Ann Lockridge


      I am going to email you via traditional means as well, but I wanted to say that yes, I’m interested in this path. I did a copyright course last year as a result of themes of this sort running in my mind (no book; it was very experimental in many ways), and I’m doing my trademark course similarly, although I went easy on the students (and myself) this semester and am using this book around 60% of the time.

      I’m not sure what’s next in this area for me, but I think I’m continuing on the path.

      Lee Ann

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