Monday, August 9, 2021
RIPS-SIS Legal Research Text Review
How to Teach Lawyers, Judges, and Law Students Critical Thinking.
By E. Scott Fruehwald. (2020), 194 pages, ISBN: 9798608999987. $35
Subject: How to be a better teacher
Useful for: Useful for law teachers, as well as lawyers, judges, law students, and other
legal professionals seeking to improve their critical thinking skills.
Format: Chapters, with exercises and problems throughout, and two appendices
detailing sample Socratic dialogue.
How to Teach Lawyers, Judges, and Law Students Critical Thinking is a helpful guide
not only for law teachers but also lawyers, judges, law students, and other legal
professionals seeking to improve their critical thinking skills. The author calls attention
to a lack of focus on critical thinking skills in multiple areas of traditional legal education
and provides suggestions for how to incorporate an increased focus on critical thinking
skills and processes in the law school classroom. He provides exercises and problems
throughout each chapter and additionally includes two appendices with sample Socratic
dialogue to be used for such purposes.
While Chapter 1 details the need for critical thinking in legal education, Chapter 2
discusses the basics of critical thinking as a more generalized skillset. Chapter 3
discusses domain-specific characteristics of the law and asks the reader to reflect not
only on what it means to “think like a lawyer” but also to delve deeper into specialized
areas of law and thus “think like a criminal [or torts] lawyer.” By way of multiple
proposed methods, Chapter 4 discusses how to teach critical thinking in law schools,
and Chapter 5 looks specifically at the use of the Socratic method and suggests a new
approach to Socratic questioning. Chapter 6 discusses the connection between critical
thinking and law teaching and provides suggestions for pedagogical growth. Chapter 7
discusses critical thinking in the context of the legal (research and) writing classroom,
while Chapter 8 details the benefits of critical thinking for judges. Chapter 9 concludes
with a reminder that the process of critical thinking is never complete and provides two
lists of the most important aspects of critical thinking, the first more generalized and
the second focused specifically on law students, lawyers, and judges.
How to Teach Lawyers, Judges, and Law Students Critical Thinking is an interesting
read that will benefit legal professionals seeking to more effectively teach critical
thinking skills and/or improve their own critical thinking skills. With a host of exercises
and problems throughout, it serves as a reminder that, while too often neglected,
critical thinking remains a crucial part of the study and practice of law, and thus further
reminds us that we must seek to delve deeper and ask “why” as we continue to study
and/or teach law ourselves.
Reviewed by: Ashley Arrington, University of Houston Law Center, in 2020.