Legal Thinking

Having been to law school, practiced law for a decade, and taught law for more than two, I believe that I can convey in this brief article the essence of thinking like a lawyer, what I like to call “the art of reasoned persuasion.” Sure, there is much to learn in law school to prepare people for the legal profession, but the experience can fall short in empowering students with these critical thinking skills. Unfortunately, some law schools fail to do a good job teaching, and some law students fail to do a good job learning, how to think like a lawyer. Therefore, it is neither necessary nor sufficient to attend law school in order to acquire these essential tools.

Law school has three main educational components. First, a large part of law school in common law countries, like the U.S., is devoted to learning to argue about whether a given precedent governs a new fact situation. Second, much of the time in law school is spent learning the specifics of particular legal rules and how to look up particular legal rules. Third, a great deal of modern law school education in the U.S. is devoted to learning what the law should be—to normative thinking about the law.

Regarding the latter point, although law schools are improving, the techniques taught there for determining what the law should be are generally inferior to the techniques available in other disciplines, such as economics or philosophy. After all, economics offers the strongest social scientific tools of empirical evaluation of the results of legal rules, while philosophy offers the strongest analytical tools for evaluation of moral goals.

While this article conveys the essence of thinking and arguing like a lawyer, I must concede that I only learned most of what this book contains after law school. In law school, most of the tools of legal thinking and argumentation presented in this book are only addressed incidentally or indirectly. As a law professor now, I daresay that if I had read this book before law school, I would have had a more complete set of tools of legal analysis than some of my professors.

The ability of “thinking sort of a lawyer” and therefore the tools of argument draw from a range of graduate school studies and legal apply. It involves associate degree analytical understanding of rules, evidence, and logical inferences. it’s each rational and remorseless. It fixates deliberately on airtight “problem solving” for the question: however am i able to persuade a decision-maker that I ought to win?

The talents given embrace variety of recognisable and separate elements that, severally, area unit rather easy. once combined artfully, they permit you to construct a formidable argument. I describe these skills in clear and accessible terms, with examples.

My goal is to modify you to adapt them to real world things any time that you just area unit disputation regarding principles, rules, facts, or agreements. The utility of those tools of argument is by no suggests that restricted to room or different legal settings.


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