Typically when one tells others that they study law, often the reaction is: ‘’Oh, it must not be that difficult. You only need to memorize laws.’’
Is the study of law that simple in fact? What do law schools really teach students, if not only laws?
We believe that studying law means learning the core principles of law and mastering the habit of thinking like a lawyer.
This method focuses on previous case laws, which students read and analyze in class by:
- Identifying the main facts presented,
- Identifying the principles or doctrines of law.
Furthermore, case studies encourage teamwork between students. By applying such method, students learn to solve problems efficiently and think critically. Moreover, many law schools use the Socratic Case Method, which involves the professor asking individual students questions about the issue at hand. This method:
- Helps the student to analyze, apply, and evaluate legal rules
- Provides the opportunity for students to learn how to apply the law in practice
- Demonstrates an analysis of the case law and how the doctrine is changeable
- Keeps the students in an active learning environment
- Encourages students to use knowledge and synthesis in order to solve the questions.
What does the phrase ‘’thinking like a lawyer’’ imply? The curricula of law school aims to:
- Develop critical thinking
- Posses legal writing techniques
- Master presentation and oratory skills
- Identify issues at hand accurately and lower the risk for mistakes
However, with the changes of the marketplace, the concept of ‘’thinking like a lawyer’’ has changed significantly. Law firms nowadays are not the only ones providing legal services and law is not only about lawyers. The digital revolution has shifted the legal consumers, not lawyers, into the main characters of the legal marketplace.
- Focusing on client goals
- Thinking comprehensively, not only like a (traditional) lawyer
- Being knowledgeable about business
- Combing the project management abilities and legal knowledge
- Having an adequate knowledge about how technology affects the legal service delivery
- Collaborating with other professionals
- Being aware of the complexities of the business
- Providing practical guidance and advice.
Due to the need to possess and practice such skills, it is crucial to have good analytical and critical thinking when it comes to studying law. The memorization of details is good, however memorizing entire laws is not as important considering that laws are constantly changing.
The main courses include:
- Constitutional Law: teaches about the branches of government and people’s rights and freedoms
- Civil Law and Civil Procedure: includes different types of contracts, and other rights such as property rights, inheritance law, lawsuit structure, pretrial procedure, appeals, motions and pleadings
- Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure: includes the concept of criminal liability, different categories of criminal offenses and criminal contraventions such as offenses against persons, public order, officials
- Torts: includes the violation against obligations of law such as private wrongs, defamation, acts of negligence
- Legal Writing and Techniques: teaches students how to do legal research and legal writings.
There are other courses such as administrative law, commercial law, corporate law, family law, tax law, international law, labor law, international law, environmental law, Roman law, etc.
However, the post pandemic has pushed law schools to change the traditional curriculums by adding new courses such as LegalTech courses.
Having a good knowledge of the law is only the basis of what is taught in law school. Nowadays law schools’ primary objectives include: project management,data analytics, business basics, risk management, good communication skills, and other skills that make the T-shaped/Modern Lawyer. Law schools should focus on consumer needs by going beyond the substantive law. They should focus on providing solutions by combining the technology with practical experience. Every law school should provide students with:
- Critical thinking
- Legal ethics
- People and communication skills
- Tech, and data analysis basic skills
- Commercial awareness
- Ability to be client/customer focused
So, if it ever occurs to you in any conversation that someone argues that law school is only about memorizing laws, have them read this blog by Legit, and perhaps they will learn what it really means to study law and prepare for the practice of law.