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LAW OF INSURANCE
FIRE, LIFE, ACCIDENT, MARINE
WITH A SELECTION OF LEADING ILLUSTRATIVE CASES
AN APPENDIX OF STATUTES AND FORMS
OF THE NEW YORK BAR AND LECTURER ON INSURANCE LAW
IN THE SCHOOL OF LAW OF COLUMBIA COLLEGE
NEW YORK AND ALBANY
BANKS & BROTHERS, LAW PUBLISHERS
This book was designed primarily for the class-room, and is the result of an effort to combine the advantages of the two more prominent methods in use for teaching law, commonly known as the text-book and case systems, the comparative merits . of which have recently aroused wide-spread and thoughtful attention.
The appearance of Langdell's Select Cases as a substitute for Parsons on Contracts, at Harvard Law School, in the year 1871, and the subsequent abolition of text-books from their curriculum by the law faculty of that great university, marked a conspicuous departure from pre-existing methods of legal instruction, and gave impetus to an exchange of views among those interested in education which has continued with increased earnestness.
By the old method, the student is expected to acquire a knowledge of the elements of the law by memorizing the pages of a general treatise, which, in the estimate and according to the views of its author, contains a compendium of the whole body of law upon the given subject. By the other method, the student is made acquainted with original sources of legal authority; namely, leading decisions and opinions by the courts upon the given subject, together with the precise statement of facts upon which the opinion in each case is based, substantially as recorded in the official reports.
These selected cases, edited, arranged, and printed in a book for this purpose, are put into the hands of the class, and are made the subject not only of study and recitation, but also of a free discussion in the class-room under guidance of an instructor, with a view to evolving, illustrating, and emphasizing the important principles established by them, and also other analogous and closely allied principles which may at the same time be conveniently considered.
The former method gives a synopsis or brief outline of many
the latter sets forth with exact detail a few selected cases upon leading points illustrative of essential principles. The former method is more synthetic and abstract, the latter more inductive and concrete. The former is more theoretical, and, in a sense, more scientific; the latter, while embracing a narrower range of decisions, is, with respect to the particular adjudications and principles which it includes, more definite, practical, and thorough. Each of these methods, no doubt, possesses points of superiority over the other; and either is, in my judgment, for purposes of giving instruction in most branches of jurisprudence and for the average American student at law, immeasurably preferable to a lecture system.
A scientific presentation of a subject in its entirety, by a competent master, must be of value to a student. Within the broad scope of a general treatise, principles can be concisely defined and conveniently arranged, not only for purposes of study in the first instance, but also for subsequent reference and review; the relations of different cases to one another can be explained, decisions seemingly inconsistent can be harmonized, historical developments can be briefly but adequately summed up, and many particulars and distinctions of greater or less importance, which could not possibly be touched upon within the bounds of any selection of isolated cases, can be enumerated or brought within the reach of general rules.
For example, within pages 133 to 196, inclusive, of this volume, the meaning and legal effect of every clause of the New York standard fire policy are considered with some degree of comprehensiveness, together with numerous citations of authorities. Little of this matter probably could be omitted to advantage; and yet, to enforce or illustrate all the propositions of the text contained in'these sixty-four pages with actual cases reported in full would increase the length of the work to several volumes, making it altogether too bulky and expensive to meet the more immediate aim of the book.
If, then, the student's memory were absolutely infallible, and if extent and variety of legal formulas were the only desideratum, and provided the general treatise were a sufficiently good one, the text-book system might well claim to be without a rival; and, as it is, it offers, I think, characteristic advantages which nothing else can supersede.