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Contracts in the Real World: Stories of Popular Contracts and Why They Matter Paperback – June 21, 2012

5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Love it. Wonderfully conversational, substantively sophisticated."
--Ian Ayres, Yale University

"Lawrence Cunningham has written a highly original and important book. For novices and long-time contract law scholars alike, the book is educational and insightful. The author presents a fun accounting of the essence of contracts both historically and in the present. One is moved from the position of viewing canonical contract cases as mere milestones of evolution to an understanding that the rationales behind these cases remain embedded in modern contract law. Cunningham has performed a service to legal scholarship by breathing new life into the relics of the past in order to better understand the cases of today."
- Larry A. DiMatteo
Huber Hurst Professor of Contract Law & Legal Studies, University of Florida


"In Lawrence Cunningham's engaging new book, Contracts in the Real World, old chestnuts, the foibles of contemporary celebrities and holes-in-one are delivered with flair and without legalese. The neophyte will be informed by this fun book. I am sure Professor Kingsfield would enjoy it much as I did."
- Joseph M. Perillo
Distinguished Professor of Law Fordham Law School


"The stories are fascinating, the issues are important, and the explanations are compelling. Lawrence Cunningham has written a splendid book."
- Steven Lubet
Williams Memorial Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law


"Contracts in the Real World is a fascinating account of how contract disputes are argued and decided, engaging the reader with stories involving celebrity parties or gut-wrenching disputes without losing scholarly sophistication. It is fit for general readers and students of the law, amply demonstrating the common sense that the common law of contracts brings to bear on the battles inevitably arising when promises are broken."
- Donald Langevoort
Thomas Aquinas Reynolds Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center


"In a perhaps natural turn for legal realism in the age of reality television, the last decade has seen an explosion of interest in legal 'stories'. Too often, however, such stories recount more than they teach. In exploring the Law of Contract through a set of carefully chosen exemplars Lawrence Cunningham does much more. Contracts in the Real World offers an invaluable set of reference points, drawn from both the classics and the modern day, to connect legal doctrine to the life of the law."
- Robert B. Ahdieh
Professor of Law Emory Law School


"This book will be a fascinating reading for teachers, students, and indeed for anyone with an interest in contracting generally. It runs the gamut from Lady Duff-Gordon to Lady Gaga, and taught me things I didn't know about cases I thought I knew well, as well as telling me about cases I had never heard of -- while at the same time weaving a pattern of the common law of contract. An unusual and rewarding book."
- Charles L. Knapp
Joseph W. Cotchett Distinguished Professor of Law, UC Hastings College of the Law


Contracts in the Real World is a long overdue and illuminating alternative. That is, in a academic field where the coin of the realm is case law about matters such as Blackacre, mason fruit jars, Carbolic smoke balls, and Shirley MacLaine, . . . in that world it is refreshing to have a book that brings modernity onto the stage of legal education. While Professor Cunningham pays due deference to the above-mentioned old chestnuts, what is so stimulating about his book is that he highlights how today's contract law bears upon the likes and business dealings of everyone from Bernard Madoff and Donald Trump to Lady Gaga and Paris Hilton, and 50 Cent, too. Likewise, he identifies and understands the real-world contexts of modern contract law involving everything from electronic transactions and confidentiality of information, to agreements re season tickets subscriptions for sports events, to entertainment contracts, to Amazon's provider contracts, to any variety of contemporary non-disclosure agreements, et cetera. In all of these ways and many others, Contracts in the Real World stands alone as a work that ushers the law of contracts into the world of the living.
- Ronald K.L. Collins
Harold S. Shefelman Scholar, University of Washington, School of Law

"Cunningham explores contract issues by utilizing a series of contemporary and interesting contract cases, many involving celebrities, and uses them to explain contract law issues. [Makes] cases and concepts come alive and feel more relevant."- Matthew Mantel,
University of Houston Law Library

Book Description

This book explores the complexities of contracts in a real world context through a series of engaging real life stories that journey across contract law's dynamic terrain, equipping readers with the vehicle to glimpse its majesty and appreciate its utility.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (April 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107607469
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107607460
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #855,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed reading the stories of contracts presented in this book. They are well organized; and they are easy to read cases that help illustrate the important concepts used in old and new business contract formation. Therefore, I am happy to recommend this book to all interested individuals. Also, I am recommending this book as a supplementary text to the Business Law courses in all MBA programs.

Prior to reading this book, I thought that I had produced the best business book of 2012, "Moats : Competitive Advantages of Buffett & Munger Businesses." However, I now say to friends that "Contracts In The Real World" by Larry Cunningham is the best business book of 2012, and mine is the second best.

After recalling the amount of reading that we did in business school, I am also hoping that "Contracts In The Real World" can also be made into an audio cd and or audible.com product download. I would like to hear the author read these stories/cases. And, I would like to be able to review cases by switching audio tracks that match each chapter.

Bud Labitan, author of books on investment decision framing and decision making.
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Format: Paperback
Lawrence Cunningham's new little book on contract law packs a big wallop of law in many modern settings. Unlike the tried and tired books on the law of contracts, this one is both stylistically engaging and substantively fascinating. In a world where contract law, as presented in the standard casebooks, is largely situated in the quicksand of the past, CONTRACTS IN THE REAL WORLD is a long overdue and illuminating alternative. That is, in a academic field where the coin of the realm is case law about matters such as Blackacre, mason fruit jars, Carbolic smoke balls, and Shirley McLane, . . . in that world it is refreshing to have a book that brings modernity onto the stage of legal education. While Professor Cunningham pays due deference to the above-mentioned old chestnuts, what is so stimulating about his book is that he highlights how today's contract law bears upon the likes and business dealings of everyone from Bernard Madoff and Donald Trump to Lady Gaga and Paris Hilton, and 50 Cent, too. Likewise, he identifies and understands the real-world contexts of modern contract law involving everything from electronic transactions and confidentiality of information, to agreements re season tickets subscriptions for sports events, to entertainment contracts, to Amazon's provider contracts, to any variety of contemporary non-disclosure agreements, et cetera. In all of these ways and many others, CONTRACTS IN THE REAL WORLD stands alone as a work that ushers the law of contracts into the world of the living.

An increasing number of law professors are critical, and rightfully so, of the appellate-court-centric perspective offered in so many law school courses and texts.
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In this highly-informative book, Lawrence Cunningham explains contract law by analyzing contemporary cases, many involving well-known names such as Lady Gaga, Conan O'Brien, Eminem, Michael Jordan, Frank and Jamie McCourt, JP Morgan Chase, and Sprint. The author is a law professor at George Washington University.

Cunningham explains the difference between tort law and contract law. Tort law "arises from behavior required of all people living in a civil society." Fraud and negligence are tort claims. "Contract law concentrates on bargained-for transactions." A key difference is that tort cases can include punitive damages, whereas contract cases cannot. "Contract law looks to compensate injured parties by putting them in the position performance would have. This gives them the benefit of their bargain. It precludes damages that would overcompensate and excludes damages for emotional distress, those for pain and suffering, and punitive awards. Tort remedies are essentially the opposite."

"The language parties choose governs, at least so long as it is clear and does not yield absurd results. Evidence beyond the four corners of a document, especially evidence that preceded its execution, is admitted only when the writing itself is ambiguous." Small details can have a big impact. "Linguistics cues abound, such as the telltale word 'notwithstanding,' or its opposite phrase, 'except as otherwise provided.'"

The difference between "shall" and "must" is another subtlety. The former indicates a promise, whereas the latter signals a condition. "Promises must be performed or else a remedy paid; conditions limit the scope of a promise. If a condition does not occur, then the limited promise never ripens, and, therefore, it need not be performed.
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Professor Cunningham has written an eminently readable book for the business executive who would like to or needs to understand legal concepts and their roots. As a lawyer who has gone to the business side a decade ago, the book provided an excellent refresher coupled with an update on the evolution in contract law. What is very unique about this book is its anchor in modern day, front-page legal issues. How much more memorable to assert in a dispute where someone notes "accord and satisfaction" or "payment in full" on a payment "that didn't work for Lady Gaga and it won't work here" than to get into discussions about the meaning of legitimate dispute. Or, better yet, turning to your attorney who you may be concerned is not being entirely thorough and saying, "I don't want a Frank/Jamie McCourt discussion over who owns the LA Dodgers because someone at your firm mixed up the exhibits." As a business person making the statement, you are sure to get attorneys' attention. My favorite line in the book in the chapter on remedies and intentionally breach compensation: "Political winds or Congressional whims are irrelevant to whether a contract may be excused or should be terminated. Contract law thus takes a pragmatic position -- neither being stingy nor lavish with excuses, but providing a tailored set of legitimate exits." Business Development and contracts folks should stick this book in their must read pile and refer back to it every now and again.
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