Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Theory Behind My Book, Think Like A Lawyer: Legal Reasoning for Law Students and Business Professionals

As I mentioned a few days ago, ABA Publishing has just issued my book, Think Like A Lawyer: Legal Reasoning for Law Students and Business Professionals. The book introduces law students and others to legal reasoning through text and exercises. In this post, I would like to explain the approach behind my book.

I based my book on the scholarship of general education scholars, in particular, Duane F. Shell et. al., The Unified Learning Model: How Motivational, Cognitive, and Neurobiological Sciences Inform Best Teaching Practices (Springer 2010) and Susan Ambrose et. al., How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching 100 (Jossey-Bass 2010). (Michael Hunter Schwartz’s articles and books on legal education were also important background for my book.)

Daniel Kahneman has asserted that the acquisition of expertise in any field requires the acquisition of many miniskills. (Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow 238 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2011)) Ambrose and her co-authors have argued that to be fluent in a skill, a student needs to break down the skill into its parts (miniskills) and practice those parts separately until the student is proficient in each step of the skill. The student will then recombine the parts and work on the skill as a whole. (Ambrose at 102)

In my book, I apply the Ambrose approach to law. I break down legal reasoning (thinking like a lawyer or legal problem solving) into its miniskills–legal reading and case analysis, rule-based reasoning (deductive reasoning), synthesis (inductive reasoning), analogical reasoning, distinguishing cases, and policy-based reasoning--with a chapter and exercises on each miniskill. I then combine these miniskills with chapters on how to write a small-scale paradigm (a simple analysis), statutory analysis, how to respond to opposing arguments, and advanced problem solving and critical thinking.

You can download the preface to my book here.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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