Chantal Thomas


On the first day of the first-year contracts class that I teach, I preview for the students both the general contours of the “blackletter law” that we will be learning throughout the course, and some of the perspectives that I will incorporate in developing our critical thinking and analysis of the law. My aim is to impress upon the students that their understanding of the blackletter law––the technical training that many law students think of as constituting the bulk of their educational mission––varies positively with their understanding of and capacity for critical analysis. I go about this in part by teaching the case of St. Landry Loan Co. v. Avie as offering a critical perspective on one of the cornerstones of the law in this area––the “objective theory” of contracts. This essay reflects on the St. Landry case as a departure point for considering practical and theoretical aspects of critical legal pedagogy, and concludes with a call for “re-loading the canon” in legal education.