Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Harvard Law Professors Suggest New Case Method

Elizabeth Maroney writes on the Harvard Law School: The Case Studies Blog, "in 2007, Harvard Law School Professors Martha Minow (now HLS Dean) and Todd Rakoff were among the first to point out that the status quo just wasn’t working."  She continues, "Their solution turned the case method on its head. In 'A Case For Another Case Method,' Minow and Rakoff argue that the case method provides more 'known' facts of the problem than situationally exist. They explain that retrospection hardly opens up the spectrum of options—it is difficult to imagine what might have been. Above all, they point out that our society now has a different conception of truth, one based on construction rather than discovery.  Experiential education, on the other hand, provides agency and teaches students 'how to think like a lawyer.'"

Their solution: "Minow and Rakoff propose that in addition to clinics (which can be costly), law schools should adopt the case study method, popularized by the Harvard Business School. These concise, inexpensive documents explain a dilemma from the perspective of a participant or organization.  Rarely are there precise answers, but the education lies in the process: thinking through problems, practicing skills like drafting memos and interacting with clients, and understanding more about human nature in legal crises. Bonus: research suggests that experiential education makes law students happier."

Maroney concludes: "But as Minow and Rakoff note, educators must get on board as well: 'Frankly, many of us will need to learn some new things. … We are supposed to keep up with what is happening in our fields.'"  (You can read the rest of the article here.)

Harvard has long been a leader in legal education.  With the Harvard Law School Dean on board, can major legal education reform be far behind?

(Scott Fruehwald

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What are the goals of the 1l curriculum at your school? Are you training appellate attorneys or trying to provide a foundation for additional learning? As a law student, I don't understand why more attention isn't paid to jury instructions, checklists, and cjs/amjur.

Posted by: Jonathan Cohen | Mar 26, 2014 3:07:08 PM

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