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Early in their law school careers, most students find that the notions they brought with them about law clash with the ideas encountered there. As a traditional first semester course, Contracts is one arena in which students experience most acutely that tension between expectation and reality.

Most new law students probably expect law school professors to spend more time teaching basic legal rules.[1] They anticipate the education in black letter law that is the distinctive trait of bar review courses. They are, therefore, surprised by their professors’ suggestion, whether explicit or implicit, that being a good lawyer is not a function just of knowing the rules.[2] Moreover, new law students expect legal rules to operate differently than they often do. Their initial perspective frequently places greater faith on simple rules than the curriculum ultimately suggests is appropriate. They expect law to be more mechanical, to guide with the precision of rules of traffic—when the light turns red, you must stop—–or of rules of games—the tie goes to the runner, the line is in (or out as the case may be).