Sunday, November 27, 2011

Making Legal Analysis Explicit

The Carnegie Report has challenged law teachers to place greater emphasis on legal skills.  Nelson Miller and Bradley Charles have given one answer on how to do this in their article Meeting the Carnegie Report's Challenge to Make Legal Analysis Explicit--Subsidiary Skills to the IRAC Framework.

The Carnegie Foundation report "Educating Lawyers" argued that law schools should make explicit the subsidiary skills that law schools teach to graduate practice-ready lawyers. The authors of this article identify, organize, list, and explain the subsidiary skills necessary for analytic and analogical reasoning of the kind practiced by lawyers. They also suggest ways to instruct law students in those reasoning skills, meeting the Carnegie Report's challenge.

I don't think the abstract does the article complete justice so here are a few excerpts from the introduction: 

"Although the traditional view has been that teaching critical thinking is straightforward, more recently it has been suggested that the traditional view is seriously misleading. Cognitive psychology has taught us that the best students and, for that matter, the best experts, are those who master the subsidiary skills of analysis." 

"Law professors play a key role in teaching the subsidiary skills. They, who intuitively perform these subsidiary skills, have the responsibility to better understand the workings of their craft and to explicitly teach those workings. That means that law professors must think in greater detail about what it is that effective, skilled, and ethical lawyers are doing when performing legal analysis." 

"This article attempts to illustrate how faculty can teach these skills by briefly highlighting the process that leads to the substantive outcome."


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