Toby and I were having lunch with Jason Wilson this week and I brought up the fun contest that Daniel Schwartz was conducting for the Connecticut Bar Foundation’s Technology Symposium. The contest was to ‘Tweet” your favorite US Supreme Court case in 140 characters or less (actually, if you take away the #cbftech you’re left with about 131 characters or less.) The contest sounded like fun, so I thought I’d contribute by tweeting one of the cases I remembered from my first semester of law school, Worldwide Volkswagen v. Woodson. But, in doing a quick Google search to refresh my memory of a case I hadn’t read in 16 years, I discovered something that I hadn’t even considered before (although Toby did kind of mention it in his TECHSHOW 15 Sites.) Many of the cases taught in law school classes are already briefed and ready on sites like Wikipedia. Take a look at Worldwide Volkswagen’s Wikipedia entry as a sample:
Harry and Kay Robinson purchased a new Audi 100 LS automobile from Seaway Volkswagen, Inc. in Massena, New York, in 1976. The following year, as Kay Robinson passed through Oklahoma on Interstate 44 en route to the Robinsons’ new home in Arizona, the Audi was struck from the rear by a drunk driver in a 1971 Ford Torino. The impact of the collision itself did not directly injure any of the Robinsons, but the crash resulted in the Audi’s doors jamming shut and a puncture in the car’s gas tank. A fire then severely burned the trapped Kay Robinson and her two children riding in the Audi, Eva and Sam.
The Robinsons did not bring a suit against Lloyd Hull, the drunk driver. He had no insurance or assets and was therefore judgment proof. The Robinsons claimed that a product defect in the car led to the injuries they sustained…
This is a C-Student’s dream!! Not to mention a Cheap C-Student’s dream because now they don’t have to go out and buy one of those briefing supplement books (I assume they are still being sold at the off-campus books stores, right??)
I dug a little deeper (which translated, means I did another Google search) and found that there are tons of briefed cases out there for mediocre, or time-constrained law students to use. The document repository site called .docstoc has almost a hundred briefed cases ready for the taking. In addition, it also has a number of study aids, bar review notes, and past exams that others have uploaded. So, if I wanted to see the USC Law Schools Torts I exam from Fall 2008, it’s there! I wanted to get a checklist of analyzing double jeopardy questions for a CrimPro class?? It’s there.
I don’t know if law students of today know this, but we used to have to go to a little slimy bookstore/copyshop/pawnshop to copy class notes from someone that took Prof. C’s CrimLaw II class two years ago, and had to pay 10¢ a page!! That’s if Prof. C hadn’t already gone down to the bookstore/copyshop/pawnshop and walked out with the original copy telling the owner to ‘sue him’ if he wanted to. (Prof. C was one bad MoFo… and I don’t mean the law firm.)
I stopped my research (in other words, no more Google searching) at this point, but I did wonder if there were more ‘advanced’ cites out there for C students that were aspiring to become B- students. Someone let me know if there are online social communities that allow you to correspond with other law students to discuss these cases. If there isn’t, I may have found my new path to riches and fame. I’ll have to do some more ‘research’ on that subject.
Although many law students may be disheartened by how much law school costs, that they’ll have thirty years of student loans to pay back, and they’re entering what could be the darkest time in the history of law firm hiring… at least they can sleep well knowing that they can at least show up to their CivPro II class in the morning with a fully briefed case and the hope that the Prof will call on someone else that day.