Doing Law School Wrong: Case Teaching and an Integrated Legal Practice Method
37 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2018
Date Written: November 15, 2018
Since its inception, the Langdellian case method has been used to teach legal analysis and reasoning to generations of U.S. law students. For nearly as long, business school students have used their own version of the case method to learn and practice management decision-making. In law school, a ‘case’ is an appellate court decision, which students must analyze in preparation for Socratic questioning. To business students, a ‘case’ is a narrative problem they must solve, before debating and defending their solutions in a moderated classroom discussion.
This paper contrasts the two case methods, first defining the methods themselves, as well as related concepts including Socratic dialogue and problem-based learning. It then asserts that neither the law school nor the business school case method is optimal to prepare students for bar admission and the practice of law. Following a detailed examination of both methods, with particular emphasis on the role of group work, the focus then shifts to a proposed Integrated Legal Practice Method. This proposed method draws on business-school case teaching, in an effort to address the shortcomings of current U.S. legal education by providing students not only with substantive and adjective legal knowledge, but also with the skills necessary for legal practice.
Keywords: Law school, business school, legal education, pedagogy, Langdell, case method, Socratic method, discussion teaching, problem-based learning, experiential learning, group work, teamwork, discussion teaching, practical skills
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