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About the Book

Introduction to American Law and Legal System

Third Edition

Thomas R. Van Dervort
Middle Tennessee State University

David L. Hudson, Jr.
Vanderbilt University

2011. 460 pages. ISBN: 978-0-7355-0870-5. Instructor’s Manual, Test Bank, Power Point Slides, and CD-ROM with all the ancillaries included.


About the Book

Engaging, accessible overview of the American legal system


  • Offers students an overview of the system of law and government in the United States, in a readable and accessible format.
  • Designed to provide the basics needed to prepare individuals for a role in the legal system, whether they are considering a professional legal career as a lawyer or paralegal, or have political science or criminal justice interests.
  • Engages students in understanding law by use of examples and practical applications of legal principles. Mock trial experiences are encouraged and each chapter involves the student in exercises that review understanding of legal terms and concepts and assign activities that engage students in discovery projects.  
  • Divided into five parts:
    • Part I: Gaining Familiarity with Basic Legal Concepts
    • Part II:   Understanding Substantive Civil Law
    • Part III: Understanding Civil Law Procedure
    • Part IV: Understanding Criminal Law Procedure
    • Part V: Understanding Administrative Due Process
  • Six illustrative cases are provided in an appendix to offer practical examples of the major concepts included in Part I of the text.
  • Parts III and IV include hypothetical cases to help the student better understand the inner workings of the judicial system in both criminal and civil cases.
  • Focuses on explaining the differences between civil, criminal, and administrative due process.
  • Discusses not only history of but also current state of law and current controversies.
  • Internet sources, key terms, case excerpts, research assignments, review exercises and discussion questions help students reinforce the key concepts in each chapter.

New to the Third Edition:

  • New chapters on Legal Research and Writing, Tort Law, Contract Law, Family Law, Employment Law, and Equal Protection Law expand the coverage of the book.
  • Internet references included and updated throughout the text.
  • Careful updating of information throughout the text.