Our students have to learn so many new skills to be successful in law school and law practice. Legal research, client interviewing, and case analysis just for starters. Our teaching methods have to engage our students while preparing them to “think like a lawyer.” We also have the responsibility to familiarize students in evaluating the “benefits and risks associated with relevant technology” and to develop efficient practices and processes. The speakers will look at decision making models that are practical and useable.
One speaker will discuss his experiences in a clinical setting using decision trees, teaching his students to visualize the questions, the potential responses, and the citations of legal authority in a logical sequence. The benefits of the decision tree in the clinical setting include protection of clients from injury through professional error and assistance to the clinical faculty in supervision but other benefits include indoctrination of attorneys regarding critical issues in legal analysis, improvement of risk management, promotion of access to justice, fostering judicial economy, and helping to rehabilitate and reclaim the professional image of lawyers. He will discuss the development and content of the decision tree prototype.
The second speaker will address the use of mind maps in teaching legal research. Teaching students about finding cases and statutes is not the most exciting of topics. We still use research plans and pathfinders. This is not how we effectively engage our students. While mind mapping is not new, using the technique to teach legal research and analysis is, and it may just bring a little zing to the classroom. The speaker will examine the upsides and yes, downsides, to adopting mind mapping in the classroom, and review current products and services, free and for fee.