Sunday, March 16, 2008

Perspectives on the Uniform Commercial Code

Recently, the Harvard Law Review's publications section reviewed Doug Litowitz' new student reader on commercial law, Perspectives on the Uniform Commercial Code, which is now in a second edition. According to the review, Litowitz' book contains “discussions relating the UCC’s drafting and enactment history; debates over the methodology, interpretation, and wisdom of the UCC’s nationalization of commercial law; insightful commentary about the contested nature of commercial property and the politics and adequacy of the UCC’s amendment procedure; and excerpts from cutting-edge UCC scholarship.”

In an email to me, Doug mentioned: "The purpose of the book was to change the way that commercial law is taught. In addition to the standard casebook and statutory supplement, I wanted to provide students with readings on the history, interpretation, and politics of the UCC." Now that’s a lot in one book.

Given Jim's post about teaching commercial law and Marie's on Teaching Commercial Law II , the broad based approach that Doug is trying to achieve has some attactiveness. Not only do students need critical statute reading and interpretative skills, but also an understanding of the methodology behind the sections, including the drafting history. I agree to a limited extent with Joe S. that the U.C.C. may have a different drafting practice than, for instance, an environmental statute. Yet, I find that students have difficulty with statutes of any kind and that the U.C.C. with its comments and history makes it a particularly good vehicle for students embarking on the study of critical statutory skills. The U.C.C. also has many sublties that make it interesting for those of us who study it long term. Perhaps my bias as a commercial law professor finds me agreeing with Marie Reilly that the study is not at all like broccoli (though I must admit that I have an affinity for that too). To me, I think the study is more like the flavor of a glass of Ch√Ęteauneuf du Pape. The importance of the blend of skills that the study offers is a good part of what makes the practice of law intriguing. I certainly offer my best to Doug for his new edition.

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