Book Review

Anatomy of a Lawsuit: What Every Education Leader Should Know About Legal Actions

by Robert J. Shoop and Dennis R. Dunklee, Corwin Press/Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2006, 142 pp., $27.95 softcover

In their timely and terse treatise Anatomy of a Lawsuit: What Every Education Leader Should Know About Legal Issues, co-authors Robert J. Shoop and Dennis R. Dunklee assert that school leaders should view litigation as a routine function of successful practitioners who, in our increasingly litigious society, must be fully cognizant of basic principles of civil and criminal law.

Shoop, a professor of education law at Kansas State University, and Dunklee, a professor of educational leadership at George Mason University, do not suggest educators possess extensive knowledge of the law, but rather they should have an understanding of the court and jury system and appreciate the nuances of litigation and the need to practice preventive procedures. They also should be capable of working with attorneys and serving as expert witnesses.

The text covers legal basics necessary to reduce potential risks, to work effectively with attorneys and to provide appropriate expertise in any legal forum. It is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information regarding prospective litigation and to serve as an “inoculation” to established principles and practices of legislation and case law.

A fictitious case study about an individual plaintiff’s lawsuit against a school system is covered in extensive detail through all stages, including interrogatories and discovery depositions, litigation strategies, pleadings, the verdict and damage awards. The authors contribute an insightful epilogue with jury commentary.

Reviewed by Charles Rudiger, professor of leadership and technology, Dowling College, Oakdale, N.Y.