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contracts, modern law, technology, celebrity


This is a review essay of Professor Lawrence Professor Cunningham’s book Contracts in the Real World: Stories of Popular Contracts and Why They Matter (Cambridge 2012). As implied by the title, the book discusses contract law through the lens of well-known cases and celebrities. Along the way, readers will meet intellectuals such as poet Maya Angelou and the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as celebrities known for controversy, like Paris Hilton, Donald Trump, and Charlie Sheen. Professor Cunningham also deftly analyzes some of the notable contract law issues arising from the global financial crisis and the Bernie Madoff scandal.

Overall, my review concludes that Contracts in the Real World is worthwhile reading for anyone interested in gaining a more complete understanding of contract law doctrine. First year law students will find insights in the book’s inspired treatment of classic cases, and they will also learn how those classic cases can be applied to modern disputes. The book manages to be entertaining without simplifying the issues being discussed. The only aspect of debate is whether the book’s positive treatment of the state of current contract doctrine is warranted in light of recent developments in online contracting. I explore some of my thoughts on this topic within the review.