Monday, September 30, 2013

New Article on Legal Problem Solving

Norman Otto Stockmeyer has posted an article on problem solving on SSRN, Using the Problem Method to Engage Students and Simulate Law Practice.  It is a chapter from the new book Teaching Law Practice: Preparing the Next Generation of Lawyers, edited by Charles Cercone, Nelson P. Miller & Christopher R. Trudeau.

Abstract: "Criticism of American legal education has centered on use of the Socratic method and, more recently, lack of a practice orientation. But proposed reforms fail to consider an alternative teaching method used successfully by other graduate schools: the problem method.

This is a chapter from the new book Teaching Law Practice: Preparing the Next Generation of Lawyers (Vandeplas Publishing, 2013). The chapter explains how the problem method is used to teach Remedies, a third-year capstone course. Instead of briefing cases, students master legal doctrine through assigned readings and analyzing legal problems of the sort a client or supervising attorney might present.

The problem method offers several advantages over traditional case-recitation or lectures. It simulates law practice, it suits the learning styles of today’s students, and it is engaging. On course evaluations, 75% of student comments on the problem method have been favorable. And implementation requires no curriculum change or resource reallocation."

I especially like this paragraph:  "In my view, the problem method has several pedagogical advantages over the traditional case-recitation and lecture methods of teaching. First, it simulates law practice. Clients and partners bring problems; our graduates will need to look up the law to help resolve them. Second, it is contemporary. A problem based approach suits the learning styles of today’s students. Third, it is engaging. Third-year students are notoriously difficult to motivate. The problem method encourages active participation. And enough with briefing cases. Lawyers rely heavily on texts after all, as do judges."

(Scott Fruehwald)

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