2 skills and 6 kinds of info

2 Skills for each Subject

We previously described the typical courses in a first-year law program.

The types of skills needed for each subject are:

  1. Acquisition of information
  2. Developing analytical skill

Stephen Coughlan of Dalhousie Law explains,

I try to develop the idea that they are not simply learning a bunch of facts… I aim to equip them with the tools to analyze further problems as they encounter them. Ideally it should also give them some insight into the underlying policy.

We believe that sharing ideas in an open format such as this enhances the information transfer. The collaborative format of the blog also allows for ideas to be scrutinized and refined further.

6 Types of Information

Each course typically covers the following types of information for the subject:

  1. Sources of authoritative law in that area
  2. Who resolves disputes in that area with authority
  3. Use of specialized vocabulary
  4. Body of rules and doctrine
  5. Articulation of societal benefits
  6. Classic statements of law

How we can Help
The use of case studies to learn about the law will in essence cover 1, 2, and 6.

We have provided an online dictionary, and will attempt to include legal terminology to address point 4.

Most students focus exclusively on 5, also known as blackletter law. This is a mistake, because it does not provide an in-depth knowledge of the law, or the type of analytical skills tested on exams.

Finally, the use of contemporary cases in the news should help to provide a venue for 6, or the societal benefits of the law.

Misc. Other Skills

Beyond critical thinking and analysis, some describe other skills useful in law school:

  • Communication
  • Research
  • Organization


Bryden, David P. (1984). What Do Law Students Learn? A Pilot Study. Journal of Legal Education 34(3):479-506.

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Law is Cool
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