Strange Books from the ABA

The American Bar Association is, among other things, a publisher. One series of books it publishes is the “Little Book” series about law as it relates to particular topics. Some of these seem relatively practical such as The Little Book of Boating Law. Others, however, are unexpected: The Little Book of Elvis Law? The Little Book of Cowboy Law? The Little Book of BBQ Law? You can see all of the offerings at the ABA’s website. Seattle University Law Library actually owns a few of these titles such as The Little Book of Baseball Law and The Little Book of Fashion Law.


Holmes’ “Common Law”

Law students these days read casebooks and hornbooks, and perhaps law review articles. One book that is sadly neglected is “The Common Law” by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Perhaps the reason is that it is not on any one particular subject, but rather on the larger subject of common law (although it does discuss it in terms of smaller subjects). The book is now in the public domain and available free online. It is one of the great law books by one of America’s great legal minds. It is certainly worth your time . . . assuming you have any to spare.



A hornbook is a treatise on the basic principles of a subject. There are hornbooks on a variety of legal subjects. The term is used generically for treatises but West Publishing (Thomson-Reuters) has a series actually named “Hornbook Series.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the hornbook is named for a children’s learning device from centuries ago consisting of a “leaf of paper containing the alphabet . . protected by a thin plate of translucent horn.”