Saturday, July 30, 2011

Exercises in Analogical Reasoning

I have often stressed the need for detailed legal reasoning exercises in legal skills and substantive courses.  Stephanie Hartung and Shailini George have an excellent article on analogical reasoning, Promoting In-Depth Analysis: A Three-Part Approach to Teaching Analogical Reasoning to Novice Legal Writings on SSRN.

Analogical reasoning is ubiquitous in every day discourse and in legal analysis. Law students are generally expected to incorporate this type of analysis into their writing in the context of essay exams and legal memoranda for their writing courses. Yet students often receive minimal guidance as to how to effectively create legal analogies and frequently struggle with this process. This article suggests a three-part approach to promoting effective use of reasoning by analogy in student writing. First, the article discusses in-class exercises that use non-legal examples to help demystify analogical reasoning and enable students to recognize that they already reason by analogy in their every day conversations. Second, the article suggests introducing students to a four-step construct for developing logical and legally relevant analogies in order to make the process of analogical reasoning more tangible. Finally, the article discusses methods of providing detailed and constructive feedback to students that will allow them to improve their use of analogical reasoning in their essay exam answers, legal memoranda, and in their employment.

(esf)  (hat tip: Terri Leclercq)

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