Beskind, Coleman publish new Torts casebook

November 13, 2015Duke Law News

Professors Donald H. Beskind and Doriane Lambelet Coleman have authored a new casebook, Torts: Doctrine and Practice.

For several years, Beskind and Coleman have provided loose-leaf case materials to students in their first-year Torts classes. That approach has been well received, and they have built on it to produce a complete first-year text that is rigorous and matches the intellectual and analytical capabilities of their students.

Professor Dorianne Lamblet Coleman“The cases and materials we have included are designed primarily for extraction learning,” Coleman said. “That is, they are framed so that their doctrinal context is clear, but as with law practice, the rule and other relevant information are generally derived from careful reading and analysis of a set of materials.”

The book also reflects the way they teach Torts “in the context of the practice of law as well as the rules of civil procedure,” Beskind said, noting their preference for longer cases with richer explanation of the facts and more attention to the role of lawyers.  

“None of the books we saw in the marketplace did that. We hope ours grounds students in how the law actually works and not just what the law is.”

Beskind and Coleman self-published the book in collaboration with Duke University Press, enabling them to offer it at a much lower price than casebooks from traditional publishers. The book, which costs $60, is being sold through Duke University Stores.

Professor Donald Beskind“That’s one quarter the cost of a typical textbook in Torts,” Beskind said. “It’s our little part to bring down the cost of legal education for students.”

Nancy Hoagland, director of editing, design, and production at Duke University Press, said a project aimed at getting lower-priced books on the market “is a great thing to bring to a non-profit organization.”

Despite having never worked with authors in this way (and having never before published a law casebook), the press was able to take advantage of digital printing technology to accommodate the need for a small print run and quick turnaround. “Five years ago, we couldn’t have done this,” she said.

And while there are still good reasons to work with traditional textbook or law publishers, Coleman said, including access to their editing resources and marketing and sales infrastructure, she hopes the success of their project will encourage other faculty members to consider taking a similar approach to self-publishing with the press.

“I love the idea of working intra-Duke,” she said. “It’s always just enriching to meet and to collaborate with people from other branches of the university.”