Robert Hillman, ‘Precedent in Contract Cases and the Importance (?) of the Whole Story’

I am honored to contribute to this symposium in honor of Bill Whitford. I have been an admirer of Bill’s work for the past 39 years, which encompasses my entire teaching career. Bill’s scholarship on contracts and consumer law in his law review articles and in his casebook, Contracts: Law in Action, now in its third edition with Macaulay, Braucher, and Kidwell, confirms the importance of examining the non-legal forces at work in exchange transactions, the sometimes tenuous relationship between contract rules and legal decisions, the limitations of legal opinions, and the value of focusing on the relationship of contracting parties.

In this essay, I begin with a brief description of Bill and his coauthors’ casebook in order to capture the contributions and importance of their perspective on teaching contract law. I then turn to Bill and Stewart Macaulay’s recent debate with Bob Scott on the meaning of the record in Hoffman v. Red Owl Stores, a case that figures prominently in Bill and Stewart’s and most other casebooks. I use the fascinating back and forth between these three prominent authors as a jumping off point to ponder the appropriate role of telling the whole story in important cases.

Hillman, Robert A, Precedent in Contract Cases and the Importance (?) of the Whole Story (October 6, 2014). Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No 14-28.

First posted 2014-10-06 20:09:23

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