Contracts in the Real World

Contracts in the Real World: Stories of Popular Contracts and Why They Matter has been released by Cambridge University Press and is available here ( and here (CUP site). We hope that teachers of 1L Contracts will assign it or recommend it next fall and expect student interest to be high. The book reviews classic cases and standard doctrines by applying them to current events.  According to colleagues whose endorsements appear on the jacket:

“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, Fordham

“The stories are fascinating, the issues are important, and the explanations are compelling. Lawrence Cunningham has written a splendid book.”- Steven Lubet, Northwestern

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, Georgetown

“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,  Emory 

“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, NYU / Hastings 

“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, University of Florida

[Thanks to all for such kind words about this book, which was a joy to research and write and I hope will be a joy to read.  We are also running an ad for the book in the Sunday New York Times book review section on Summer Reading (June 3), as we target both a law school audience and a more general readership. Tell your friends!]


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3 Responses

  1. Congratulations! We are so excited for you and for students.

  2. Ron Collins says:

    This is one of the VERY BEST contracts books to come out in decades. It brings contract law into modernity.

  3. I just started reading the book today and already am looking forward to assigning it next year. Thanks so much for compiling all of these great modern cases. I’m particularly excited about the Eminem case re: whether downloads are licenses or sales. Now I just need to find a “clean” version of one of his songs so I can play it in class…