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Past Project

The Bridge

The Bridge is divided into two major parts: a six-unit series on legal reasoning, and a series of modules on American Legal Theory, divided into six "tracks" representing important schools of thought.

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

  • how to build persuasive narratives;
  • how to characterize and recharacterize events in light of an informed sense of their potential legal significance (a good lawyer has to know a lot of law);
  • how to create analogies, and how to use them in the application and distinction of precedents;
  • how to enlarge and shrink the scope, and shift the focus, of legal issues presented for decision; and
  • how to draw from and contribute to the law's evolving fund of policy arguments.

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.