Legal Reasoning


The goal of these materials is to accelerate and refine learning about legal reasoning and argument.  They are designed to draw students into a steady habit of inventing arguments -- producing alternatives to what they see on the page -- as they study the legal materials assigned in their courses.  Law students need to learn more than to "find" the law or to "fit" a problem to existing categories; they need to learn Effective legal advocates know how to recast the unfamiliar in familiar terms and the familiar in fresh forms. They have learned flexibility of mind. These lectures seek to promote such learning through exercises illustrating the basic legal skills of narration, characterization, analogizing, framing, and arguing about policies. These skills are fundamental and pervasive. Thus, instruction in and about them "bridge" the usual course divisions in law schools and also bridge theory and practice. Specific connections are drawn to judicial decisions commonly studied in traditional first year law school courses (civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts), and also to some influential works of legal scholarship.

Some of the materials use live discussions between students and faculty members to communicate their ideas; some combine exercises with ideas presented through text and notes. Visuals, sound, links into the LEXIS®-NEXIS® on-line services and cross-references take advantage of new technological opportunities.

Any of the five lectures can be used to enhance existing courses; they may be combined to serve as the backbone for an overview of legal research and writing.

The best way to begin to explore the materials is  by reading the introductory problem.