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Steve Semeraro

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This is a streamlined Property Law casebook. As it canvasses the traditional areas of coverage, it sets out the relevant legal tests clearly and provides students lots of opportunities to apply them. Professor Steven Semeraro uses cases selectively to illustrate examples of insightful analysis, creative lawyering, and tricks of the trade, rather than as a means merely to present rules of law and show their application. In general, the book relies on a regular series of problems (both essay and multiple choice) to teach application. Why use this method?

The basic property course, long a staple of the first-year curriculum, differs from the other foundational courses. Rather than explore a single body of law, the typical course offers snippets of at least a half dozen practice areas, including civil rights, real estate transactions, environmental regulation, eminent domain and inverse condemnation practice, land use planning and regulation, landlord-tenant law, and nuisance law. As the list has grown, students may feel unsatisfied with the briefest attention given to areas such as the law of variances and environmentally-based land use regulation.

This casebook, from an experienced Property Law professor, clearly shows students the real value of this vital course. For Professor Semeraro, that value lies not in common-law methodology; property cases only rarely provide particularly useful tools for teaching the common law method. Instead, the course’s principal value comes from the many instances in which students must apply relatively complicated systems of categorization (e.g., the law of future interests, the law of finders, the negative easements) and complicated analytical tests (such as the rule against perpetuities, the test for covenants running with the land, and the Penn Central test for regulatory takings). Learning these taxonomies and applying these tests helps provide students the skills they need to understand and apply the complex statutory codes that govern current law practice, such as tax, securities, environmental regulation, utilities, and communications. 

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