Problem-Based Learning of Law

PBL Around the World

Using the participatory learning model introduced previously is not something new. Legal educators have been promoting the technique across the world, and it is especially prominent in European schools.

The UK Centre for Legal Education has a site that describes this approach for studying various aspects of the law. They even employ case studies to demonstrate how to do it properly.

Universiteit Maastricht in the Netherlands is a leader in employing PBL in legal education. They are ranked the highest school nationally, and participate in case competitions with McGill University.

PBL is Good for Case Law

According to Gabriël A Moens, Professor of Law at University of Queensland, studying case law is what makes PBL perfect for the legal field.

Moens describes how his institution effectively uses PBL, and proposes the following framework for analyzing cases:

  • M – Material Facts – present or absent
  • I – Issues of law and “policy”
  • R – Rules and Resources
  • A – Arguments or Application
  • T – Tentative Conclusion

So Why Not in Canada?
So why isn’t PBL being adopted by law schools across Canada? Perhaps the upcoming issue of the Canadian Institute of Distance Education Research will seek to answer this question.

There are some drawbacks from adopting PBL mentioned in the sources here, but primarily it comes down to resources.

The University of Western Ontario is one of the few law schools that prides itself on its small-group learning, intended to develop specialized legal skills. But this is limited to a single class in the first year, and it is up to students to foster their own supports independently beyond this.

The “Bigger” Study Group

Students intuitively realize the advantage to collaboration in education, and form their own study groups to assist each other.

The potential to broaden this to a larger audience and generate deeper inputs only need be realized for the brave and ambitious.


PBL at The Faculty of Law at the University of Maastricht

Problem Based Learning and New Zealand Legal Education

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Law is Cool
This site is intended to provide a resource for those interested in law. Current law students, graduates preparing for their bar exam, and members of the general public, can all benefit from a deeper understanding of the legal framework that helps shape our society.