Legal Education and Research in India

The 50th Anniverary issue (v.50 #4) of the Journal of the Indian Law Institute has two articles of interest:

Legal Education, Resarch and Pedagogy – Ideological Perceptions

A. Kakshminath  pp.606-628.

To Mould Millennium Law Researchers and Teachers: the Role of the Indian Law Institute

S. Sivakumar  pp.699-706.

The Sivakumar article lists the twelve national law schools in India (see footnote 7 on page 701):

1.      National Law School of India (Bangalore)

2.      NALSAR (Hyderabad)

3.      National Law Institute (Bhopal)

4.      National Law University (Jodhpur)

5.      Hidayatullah National Law University (Raipur)

6.      Gujarat National Law University (Gandhinagar)

7.      National University of Advanced Legal Studies (Kochi)

8.      Chanakya National Law University (Patna)

9.      Rajiv Gandhi National Law University (Patiala)

10.  Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University (Lucknow)

11.  National Law School of Delhi (Delhi)

12.  Indian Law Institute (deemed a university under the Presidentship of the Chief Justice of India)

Researching Across the Curriculum: The Road Must Continue Beyond the First Year

“Researching Across the Curriculum: The Road Must Continue Beyond the First Year”

Oklahoma Law Review, Vol. 61, 2009

BROOKE J. BOWMAN, Stetson University College of Law

In the ever growing movement to integrate skills and values across the law school curriculum, research instruction cannot be overlooked or forgotten. Research serves as the fulcrum upon which “skills and values” such as ethics and practical application of doctrinal studies, rests. Therefore, research instruction cannot be limited to what the students learn in their first-year legal research and writing classes. A concentrated effort must be made in all classes to ensure that what the students learn in the first-year research and writing classes will be further developed, refined, revisited and reinforced. This Article, Research Across the Curriculum: The Road Must Continue Beyond the First Year, offers a new paradigm for how research instruction should change in the upper-level classes from requiring all students to take Advanced Legal Research courses, for example, to integrating research instruction into specialized areas such as international law and tax courses.

Source:  LSN Law Educator: Courses, Materials & Teaching Vol. 5 No. 5, 03/06/2009

IRAC and its variations

One of the fun aspects of having a blog is looking at the logs and seeing what search terms people are using to find their way to the blog.  Many people search “IRAC” so when I received today’s “New on for October 2008,” I saw that there was a new item that might be right up the alley of many people who read Legal Research Plus.

The item is:

The Art of Written Persuasion: From IRAC to FAILSAFE – A Compilation of Legal Problem-Solving Models
By Troy Simpson LLB (Hons), Published on October 11, 2008

and here’s how it begins:


‘A process model . . . of problem-solving provides a useful framework . . . because it offers a systematic, non-random way of tackling problems.’

In my previous article, I outlined some of the problems with the ‘case method’ of teaching law and I outlined some of the advantages of the ‘problem method’. Proponents of the problem method have developed several problem-solving models. I describe some of these models below so that in my next column I may suggest the criteria for evaluating these models.


‘IRAC’ purportedly provides the simplest and commonest ‘problem-solving’ model. Under IRAC, you state the Issue, state the Rule to apply, Apply the rule, and reach a Conclusion.

People call IRAC  a ‘problem-solving’ method; but IRAC really helps only in structuring an analysis, such as summarising a case, rather than solving problems. The IRAC formula resembles less the problem method than the case method, which Christopher Columbus Langdell , Dean of Harvard Law School , introduced in 1870.

For example, one can spot the ‘Issue’ in a case relatively easily; but spotting the issues in an unfocussed problem takes much more work. You must analyse the facts before you can identify the ‘Issue’.

The ‘I’ in ‘IRAC’, when applied to unfocussed problems, presumes the lawyer knows enough of the law to identify issues. Yet ‘the great secret, kept by all lawyers, is that lawyers don’t know the law’ there is too much law for any man to master in his lifetime’.

The ‘R’ in IRAC  considers ‘rules’. But ‘rules’ still leave decision-makers with discretion.  Lawyers win most cases on the facts, not rules. This means IRAC:

‘forces unprepared students to learn the hard way, at the expense of their clients, that practicing law involves understanding facts first, ‘what happened’ and the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the mess that brought the parties to the last resort of dispute resolution.’

When used as a problem-solving method, the ‘A’ in IRAC  tells you to ‘apply the law to the facts’. Yet it does not explain how to apply the law to the facts.  And, as a problem-solving method, the ‘C’ in IRAC too confidently predicts an unqualified ‘conclusion’.

IRAC  may provide a good way to organise an analysis after you have done all the hard work — finding facts, analysing facts, identifying the relevant areas of law, and so on.  But IRAC provides no suitable ‘problem-solving’ model. This explains why IRAC has mutated into countless variations, some of which I outline below.  . . .

The Laptop-Free Zone


“The Laptop-Free Zone”

Valparaiso University Law Review, Vol. 43, 2009

JANA R. MCCREARY, Florida Coastal School of Law

This new article, “The Laptop-Free Zone,” addresses the hotly debated issue of laptops in law school classroom; those debates are ongoing on countless blogs, on NPR, in national newspapers, and across law school campuses. This article reports and analyzes the data collected through an IRB-approved survey of almost 450 law school students at three different law schools regarding the students’ views of laptops and reported distractions caused by laptops. To provide context, the article also addresses the current arguments against laptops, negating those points as being outweighed by the proper and beneficial use of laptops. Additionally, the article provides information to be considered in teaching adults and to different learning styles, namely, global and analytic learners, and how those concerns are matters to consider in the laptop debate.

According to the survey results, students who do not use a laptop are overwhelmingly more likely to be distracted by others’ laptops than students who are using their own laptops. In other words, yes, laptops cause distractions, but that primarily affects students who are not using a laptop. Accordingly, based on the learning style information and my survey results, I suggest that laptops not be banned from law school classrooms. Instead, I argue that professors must do their best to teach to all students – to those who feel they learn best by using a laptop as an aid and to those who complain of the distractions caused. I do this by implementing a laptop-free zone, restricting the first or first few rows in my classrooms to no laptops. This creates an area where students who are distracted by neighboring screens and nearby typing are free (as possible without an all-out ban) from those distractions. Further, doing so still respects those students who have learned to use a laptop as an educational tool.

As a surprise to me, the survey also showed that many students make the decision to give up their laptop after experiencing attending a class without one, noting they would not have been willing to go through such an experience by their own decision. However, once they experience not using a laptop in the law school classroom environment, they often change their method of taking notes and report improved learning and classroom experiences. Accordingly, I also suggest that instead of banning laptops, we provide beginning students with only a week or two of a laptop ban at some time during the first semester of school. This compromise will serve the interest of the most students most effectively, respecting them as adults while providing supportive guidance to their own decisions about their learning environment.


 Source: LSN Educator: Courses, Materials & Teaching Vol. 4 No. 23, 10/24/2008

China-EU School of Law

The new China-EU School of Law (CESL) in Beijing was created by a consortium of Chinese and EU institutions, lead by the University of Hamburg and the China University of Political Science and Law.  This offers students another opportunity for cross-cultural and international legal education.

Description from the CESL Web site:

By employing comparative approaches of legal studies and bringing international experience of legal education into China, CESL carries its mission to cultivate a new generation of legal professionals who are proficient in both Chinese and international law.
CESL offers (1) the program of Chinese Juris Master and LL. M. of EU Law (Master Programs); (2) the Professional Training Program for lawyers, judges and prosecutors and (3) Research and Consultancy Program, i.e. joint training for Ph.D. students.

China-EU School of Law

Hat tip to Knut Pissler of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law.

How a law school grows

Stanford Law School just distributed its annual Facebook, a bound photo directory for the school.  The first such Facebook was issued here in 1983.

So while sitting at the reference desk this morning, waiting for customers (it’s been a slow Friday), I counted faces in the first and most recent Facebooks and came up with this comparison:

  •                                         1983/84                    2008/09
  • Faculty                                   45                             55
  • Visitors/lecturers                   11                              83
  • Fellows                                    6                              23
  • Deans (other than faculty)      3                                6
  • Library staff                           25                              28
  • Law school staff                    53                             130
  • Advanced degree students     9                               65
  • First year students               171                             170







New book: How to be a Law Professor Guide: From Getting that First Job to Retirement

An new book from Vandeplas Publishing offering lifelong advice for someone interested in becoming a law professor. Might also be useful for library science students without JDs thinking of careers in academic law librarianship.

How to be a Law Professor Guide: From Getting that First Job to Retirement

Ronald W. Eades

Vandeplas Publishing



Description from the publisher:

The “How to be a Law Professor Guide” is intended to provide an overview of the law teaching profession. Many lawyers think about going into law teaching, but do not know how to get that first job. This book will offer advice on finding that first position. In addition, getting that first job is only the beginning. Getting through the early years and earning “tenure” is harder than it looks. There is much needed useful information on gaining that job security of tenure. Once tenure is obtained, however, the job of law teaching does not stop. Law teaching is a rewarding, lifelong career. This book offers suggestions on how to continue enjoying that career. As with all good things, they must come to a close. The book offers some tips on moving into retirement. A prospective member of the law teaching profession should read this book before getting started. A new law teacher should read the book several times during those pre-tenure years. A tenured law professor may want to read the book to keep the career exciting.

Classroom cooperation among foreign law schools

Legal Education Digest (v.16 #2 pp. 46-49), published a condensed version of the following article by Daniel Bradlow and Jay Finkelstein: “Training Law Students to be International Transactional Lawyers – Using an Extended Simulation to Educate Law Students About Business Transactions.”  This article describes an international business transactions course jointly taught by Amercian University Washington Colleg eof Law and Dundee University’s Centre for Energy, Mineral, and Petroleum Law and Policy.  One class represents the buyer, a  U.S. drug company and the other class represents the seller, a state-owned agricultural cooperative in an African country. 

Full text available via SSRN:

Article Abstact:

The article describes an innovative approach to educating law students about the legal issues and the role of lawyers in negotiating international business transactions. It is based on our experiences in developing and teaching a course that is built around a semester-long simulation exercise and taught in counterpart classes at two law schools. The students in these classes represent the opposing parties and negotiate a cross-border business transaction involving a joint venture agreement, a licensing agreement and a long-term supply contract. The students, who attend either the American University Washington College of Law or the Centre for Energy Mineral and Petroleum Law and Policy at the Dundee University in Scotland, utilize written communications, video-conferencing and teleconferencing in their negotiations. In the paper we discuss the value the course adds to the education of our students, the challenges and pleasures of teaching the course, the response of students to the innovative approach to teaching, and ways in which the course could be adapted and enriched.



New admissions policy at Osgoode Hall Law School in Canada

Osgoode Hall Law School, York University in Canada recently instituted a new admissions policy for 2008-2009. On the Law School Web site, they have posted the Admissions Committee Report from February 2007. The report details the justification for the new admissions policy and reproduces the admissions criteria used by evaluators and admissions officers. The admissions criteria include academic scores, equity considertions and other factors, such as work experience, leadership and contribution to community. The report makes for interesting reading and a revealing insight to legal education in Canada. Here is additional proof that law schools around the world are struggling with ways to expand the admissions process beyond numeric considerations.

Osgoode Hall Law School Admissions Committee Report (Feb. 2007)

Additional information available here

“Learning from Others: Sustaining the Internationalization and Globalization of U.S. Law School Curriculums”

Learning from Others: Sustaining the Internationalization and Globalization of U.S. Law School Curriculums

 Fordham International Law Journal, Forthcoming

JAMES R. MAXEINER, University of Baltimore School of Law

This address has three principal points: (1) An overview of how we are going about internationalizing the law school curriculum today in the United States; (2) Whether we are making as much progress as we should and how learning from others is central to sustaining our progress such as it is; and (3) What some of the obstacles to such learning are.


Source: LSN Comparative Law Vol. 8 No. 94,  09/03/2008