Friday, July 13, 2018
- ABA Journal, 14 of 19 Vermont Law professors lose tenure, retention chair tells professors' organization
- Melissa Breger (Albany), Teaching Law Students to Have a Good "Bed-Side: Manner
- Bryan Camp (Texas Tech), Wax Does Not Wane
- William Henderson (Indiana), Studying Leadership Before the Big Test, Part I
- Law.com, ABA Wins Early Round Against Florida Coastal Law in Accreditation Suit
- James McGrath (Texas A&M), Planning Your Class to Take Advantage of Highly Effective Learning Techniques
- Deborah Merritt (Ohio St.), But Can They Read Cases?
Comment: Professor Deborah Merritt (Ohio St.) has put up a series of posts on the Law School Cafe that critique the case method: But Can They Read Cases?, Quimbee, The Strange Case of the Case Method. She cites a study (here) that demonstrates law students have very poor case reading skills. Professor Merritt declares, "Despite any caveats, the results of the Evensen study are alarming. The ability to read cases is a basic skill that all law schools purport to teach: We devote a considerable portion of the curriculum to reading and analyzing cases. Yet the average student in the Evensen study reached only a basic level of case reading proficiency–and failed to improve over three years of law school." (here) She also notes, "Other studies, unfortunately, suggest that law schools fall short in teaching other types of critical thinking."
I heard one of the authors of the study speak at a conference over ten years ago. What troubled me the most from his presentation was that law students do very poorly at synthesizing cases. This skill wasn't widely taught at the time of the conference, and it still isn't today. Law professors need to teach case synthesis in every first-year class so that law students become proficient in this skill across domains. For more on case synthesis, see Synthesizing Rules.