Doing Law School Wrong: Case Teaching and an Integrated Legal Practice Method
Since its inception, the Langdellian case method has been used to teach legal analysis and reasoning to generations of U.S. law students. For nearly as long, business school faculty have used their own version of the case method to teach management decision-making. In law school, a “case” is an appellate court decision, which students must analyze in preparation for Socratic questioning. To business students, a “case” is a narrative problem they must solve before debating and defending their solutions in a moderated classroom discussion.
This Article asserts that neither of these two methods are optimal to prepare students for bar admission and the practice of law. After examining both methods in detail, with particular emphasis on the role of group work, the Article then considers IE Law School in Spain as a pioneer in the use of practical “case” problems to teach law and legal skills. It concludes with outline of a proposed Integrated Legal Practice Method, drawing on business school case teaching to provide students not only with substantive and adjective legal knowledge, but also with the skills necessary to begin the practice of law.
POR GREGORY MARSDEN, PROFESSOR OF LAW, FACULTAD LIBRE DE DERECHO DE MONTERREY