TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, July 13, 2018

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

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?, QuimbeeThe 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.

 

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