Using the Problem Method to Engage Students and Simulate Law Practice
Norman Otto Stockmeyer
Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School
September 24, 2013
Teaching Law Practice: Preparing the Next Generation of Lawyers (Vandeplas Publishing, 2013)
Criticism of American legal education has centered on use of the Socratic method and, more recently, lack of a practice orientation. But proposed reforms fail to consider an alternative teaching method used successfully by other graduate schools: the problem method.
This is a chapter from the new book Teaching Law Practice: Preparing the Next Generation of Lawyers (Vandeplas Publishing, 2013). The chapter explains how the problem method is used to teach Remedies, a third-year capstone course. Instead of briefing cases, students master legal doctrine through assigned readings and analyzing legal problems of the sort a client or supervising attorney might present.
The problem method offers several advantages over traditional case-recitation or lectures. It simulates law practice, it suits the learning styles of today’s students, and it is engaging. Students are given an opportunity to "do something with" the legal material. On course evaluations, 75% of student comments on the problem method have been favorable. And implementation requires no curriculum changes or resource reallocation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 9
Keywords: legal education, problem method, remedies, PBL
Date posted: September 28, 2013 ; Last revised: November 26, 2014