Legal Reasoning

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nol607
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Legal Reasoning

Postby nol607 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 11:28 am

Can anyone please recommend which of the below-listed books is most useful as a primer on legal reasoning? Perhaps extol the various virtues of each? Anything I missed that is recommended? I'm thinking Aldisert+Delaney seems money. I have heard positive things about them on this forum all but am not planning on an overly gunnerish summer (and I'm trying to finish Caro's The Power Broker before 1L starts, so ideally I would like to just get one, perhaps two, if they really are that wonderful. Has anyone done the delaney workbook- was it worthwhile? Thanks!

- Logic for Lawyers: A Clear Guide to Legal Thinking- Ruggero Aldisert
- Learning Legal Reasoning: Briefing, Analysis and Theory- Delaney [workbook]
- Introduction to Legal Reasoning- Edward Levi [recommended by my school- heard it is a challenging read for 0Ls- may not be the most expedient use of time]

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vamedic03
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Re: Legal Reasoning

Postby vamedic03 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:07 pm

nol607 wrote:Can anyone please recommend which of the below-listed books is most useful as a primer on legal reasoning? Perhaps extol the various virtues of each? Anything I missed that is recommended? I'm thinking Aldisert+Delaney seems money. I have heard positive things about them on this forum all but am not planning on an overly gunnerish summer (and I'm trying to finish Caro's The Power Broker before 1L starts, so ideally I would like to just get one, perhaps two, if they really are that wonderful. Has anyone done the delaney workbook- was it worthwhile? Thanks!

- Logic for Lawyers: A Clear Guide to Legal Thinking- Ruggero Aldisert
- Learning Legal Reasoning: Briefing, Analysis and Theory- Delaney [workbook]
- Introduction to Legal Reasoning- Edward Levi [recommended by my school- heard it is a challenging read for 0Ls- may not be the most expedient use of time]


The best introduction to legal reasoning is probably - Thinking Like a Lawyer: A New Introduction to Legal Reasoning by Frederick Schauer . . . if you're going to bother reading something other than Getting to Maybe, read this. In retrospect, however, I don't think you get a much advantage by it, but it addresses issues that will pop up in your required classes and in upper level classes like Legislation/Statutory Interpretation.

nol607
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Re: Legal Reasoning

Postby nol607 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:17 pm

Thanks "mcnutty." So you think that work beyond GTM is unnecessary?

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vamedic03
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Re: Legal Reasoning

Postby vamedic03 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:21 pm

nol607 wrote:Thanks "mcnutty." So you think that work beyond GTM is unnecessary?


Honestly, yes. You might be able to pick up a little bit of legal reasoning from reading other stuff before hand, but, you really can't fully comprehend it or pick it up until you're in law school. I think its important that you let the professors teach you and acclimatize you to the law. Regardless of how much you read beforehand, you're still going to spend the first couple weeks feeling befuddled and wondering what the heck is really going on - and, that's ok.

Plus, you don't want to get burned out before the semester begins - the second half of the first semester is quite stressful and, honestly, the second semester can be pretty damned stressful as well.

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vexion
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Postby vexion » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:29 pm

I just finished Delaney's Learning Legal Reasoning (haven't read the others.) I wouldn't recommend it... it should just be called "Learning Case Briefing." It's ~100 pages and like seven chapters of case briefing exercises. Each chapter has a case, and examples of excellent and poor briefs. Delaney just defines stuff like "holding" and "procedural history" and says, "Go find this crap."

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Aeroplane
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Re: Legal Reasoning

Postby Aeroplane » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:53 pm

If you're familiar with basic logical concepts like if/or/not/and, understand the principles behind a venn diagram, and know what an analogy is, that's about all the reasoning skills necessary for law school. HTH.

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Duralex
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Re: Legal Reasoning

Postby Duralex » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:58 pm

Skip Levi, it's a classic (and reads like one.) It's like reading The Bramble Bush instead of Law School Confidential. Read it later if you're a completist or want some exposure to traditional materials.

Aldisert is great, but probably much more rigorous than you want. He's serious about using logic. I'd suggest reading this article of his first, which is a sort of manifesto-cum-introduction and see if it appeals to you:

"Logic for Law Students: How to Think Like a Lawyer"
University of Pittsburgh Law Review, Vol. 69, No. 1, 2007
Abstract:
Law schools no longer teach logic. In the authors' view this is tragic, given that the fundamental principles of logic continue to undergird the law and guide the thinking of judges. In an effort to reverse the trend, this essay explains the core principles of logic and how they apply in the law school classroom. The manuscript begins by examining the basics of the deductive syllogisms and then turns to inductive generalizations and the uses and abuses of analogies. The authors claim that students who master the basics of logic laid out in this article will be better lawyers and will feel more comfortable when they find themselves presenting arguments to judges and jurie


Full text at:
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm? ... _id=966597

Delaney's book is widely praised, but I haven't looked at it much yet. It seems more like a tutorial workbook, as mentioned above.

I've been impressed so far with what I've read of Thinking Like a Lawyer: a New Introduction to Legal Reasoning by Schauer, which is well organized, thorough and erudite (written like a real work of scholarship rather than a workbook) but still approachable.

I'm a big fan of The Legal Analyst: A Toolkit for Thinking About the Law by Farnsworth. This is qualitatively different than the rest of the primers floating around--it helps pull together the kinds of overarching considerations that I suspect law students are supposed to glean from lecture or tease out of course materials, and brings them into sharp focus. That must sound nebulous, so here are the chapter headings:

PART 1: Incentives
Ex Ante and Ex Post
The Idea of Efficiency
Thinking at the Margin
The Single Owner
The Least Cost Avoider
Rents
The Coase Theorem

PART 2: Trust, Cooperation, and Other Problems for Multiple Players
Agency (written w/R. Posner)
The Prisoner's Dilemma
Public Goods
The Stag Hunt
Chicken
Cascades
Voting Paradoxes
Suppressed Markets (written w/S. Levmore)

PART 3: Jurisprudence
Rules and Standards
Slippery Slopes (written w/E. Volokh)
Acoustic Separation
Property Rules and Liability Rules
Baselines

PART 4: Psychology
Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept: the Endowment Effect and Kindred Ideas
Hindsight Bias
Framing Effects
Anchoring
Self Serving Bias, with a Note on Attribution Error

PART 5: Problems of Proof
Presumptions
Standards of Proof
The Product Rule
The Base Rate
Value and Markets

The books by Vandevelde (also Thinking Like a Lawyer) and Mertz (The Language of Law School: Learning to Think Like a Lawyer) are excellent, but probably a little too meta-level. Vandevelde does cover some of the basics, but with a lot of historical and social framing. Mertz analyzes the law school classroom, and understanding its social construction and linguistic ideologies may be more disheartening than enlightening for 0Ls. Perhaps it's better not to peek behind the curtain until after 1L.....

Here are a couple others that I've been lent with positive recommendation, but haven't yet read:

Whose Monet? An introduction to the American Legal System -- Humbach -- takes you through DeWeerth v Baldinger (a suit over ownership of a Monet) as a vehicle to introduce legal thinking and process. Widely praised, but a more general primer. Good for people who don't yet understand what common law is and how it works, how the courts are organized, the general course of civil procedure, etc.

Deconstructing Legal Analysis -- Wendel -- Features a very interesting "planar" system for diagramming/analyzing cases/issues. Could be extremely effective if it works, but I'd hate to gamble on it if it turns out to be an inefficient gimmick. Has anyone read this and used the system (by assignment or otherwise?)

Finally, for those interested in classical approaches, I'd recommend Introduction to Classical Legal Rehetoric: a Lost Heritage by M.H. Frost. I found it both enlightening and approachable (after the first chapter, which is a bit of a theoretical/historical brain dump for contextualization of the rest.) Definitely not everyone's cup of tea.

On GTM -- GTM is more about exam writing than legal reasoning as a whole. IMHO.
Last edited by Duralex on Sun Jun 20, 2010 9:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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RUQRU
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Re: Legal Reasoning

Postby RUQRU » Sat Jun 19, 2010 5:54 am

Thanks, Duralex, for resources. I just ordered The Legal Analyst: A Toolkit for Thinking About the Law by Farnsworth. I read some of the book using the "look inside" feature on Amazon. It looks to be a very helpful read.

nol607
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Re: Legal Reasoning

Postby nol607 » Sat Jun 19, 2010 9:07 pm

I ordered it too. It actually looks like a beach read.




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