Thursday, September 10, 2020
We have often stressed the importance of putting the law into context in legal education. The following article does this very effectively for teaching business associations.
The Systems Approach to Teaching Business Associations by Lynn M. LoPucki and Andrew Verstein.
"The systems approach is an application of systems analysis to law. Over the past twenty-five years it has proven highly successful in both teaching and legal scholarship. This Article explains the authors’ application of the systems approach in a new casebook, Business Associations: A Systems Approach (forthcoming, Wolters Kluwer 2020).
The systems approach is designed to directly prepare students for the practice of law. It does so by providing students with the information lawyers use to solve clients’ problems and asking the students to solve the problems of hypothetical clients in realistic settings. The approach differs from traditional casebooks in four principal respects. First, it provides information as simply and directly as possible instead of asking students to ferret it out or infer it from cases. Second, it explains the law in the context of the physical systems in which law is employed, including law offices, board rooms, courtrooms, legal documentation, and online voting, entity-registration, and information systems. Third, based on our conclusion that the four main entity types (partnership, corporation, LLC, and limited partnership) all perform the same functions, we have organized the material by function — financing, investor voting, manager voting, investor litigation, investment transfers, etc.— instead of by entity type. Lastly, the systems approach is largely a “flipped classroom” approach. Students learn and apply the material to problems prior to class. Class discussions are an opportunity for students to check their reasoning, reach more sophisticated solutions, and critique the system in light of the issues they encountered."
Key definition: "As applied to teaching law, the systems approach (1) explains the law in the context of the physical (as opposed to conceptual) systems in which it is applied, (2) organizes the law for study by grouping rules and concepts according to the functions they perform in those systems, and (3) enables students to apply the material provided to solve problems that require knowledge of how the system works. Each of these features is the subject of a separate Part of this Article."
Key passage: "The systems approach describes legal phenomena in the context of the physical systems in which they occur. The descriptions are concrete, not merely conceptual."