Legal reasoning: the early years

Sandford-Couch, Clare (2013) Legal reasoning: the early years. In: ASLCH 2013: 16th Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities, 22-23 March 2013, Birkbeck, University of London.

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My paper will explore whether and how images may be of use in helping students at the start of an undergraduate law degree to begin to understand the concept and practices of legal reasoning.

It could be argued that law schools frequently see legal reasoning as a skill that students should be able to pick up, from reading cases and statutes. However, it is a concept with which many students struggle. Often students start their law degree expecting to be taught and to learn ‘the law’, assuming that cases are decided by judges selecting from a system of an unchanging, constant set of known legal ‘rules’; by applying the relevant rule to the case before them, they will be led inexorably to the ‘right’ decision. The dawning realisation that the study of law is not a question of learning to memorise a body of legal rules can prove disheartening to many students, at a critical point in the start of their degree.

The paper will suggest that there may be a role for visual images in helping students to appreciate the practices of legal reasoning, in particular reasoning by example. The finding of similarity or difference is a key step in this process, and a number of examples from the visual arts will be considered to explore whether engaging in visual analysis may encourage students towards an understanding of legal reasoning.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: M100 Law by area
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
Depositing User: Clare Sandford-Couch
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2013 16:19
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2019 00:41

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