Monday, December 12, 2011

Making Legal Analysis Explicit

One of the characteristics of the new approach to legal teaching is to make analysis more explicit--to help our students better understand the steps in a legal analysis.  A new book by Bradley J. Charles, Applying Law (Carolina Academic Press 2011) does an excellent job of making analysis explicit.

Professor Charles writes:

Most textbooks teach that arguments are made by applying the law's language and by analogizing to past cases.  But few books teach the mechanical details of how to create arguments.

He also states:

Just like Tiger Woods did not perfect his swing by reading a book, you will not improve your reading skills just by reading a book.  You must practice.

Professor Charles shows the mechanical details of creating arguments by focusing on nine reasoning skills: apply rule's language, imply, infer, clarify, hypothesize, characterize, analogize, quantify, evaluate opposing arguments.  He then shows how to write arguments, including writing the application.  He uses a problem on false imprisonment to demonstrate on how these techniques work.

I highly recommend this book for law students who want to get a head start on their first-year, as a textbook for an Introduction to Law Class, for use by an academic support person, or as a supplement for a legal writing class.   It is also worth reading by those who are interested in the newest law school teaching techniques.


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