Basic Tools and Concepts

The Legal Problem Solving Process

The basic problem solving process can be broken down into four major steps as outlined below. The many skills that students learn in the Legal Analysis and Communication courses supplement various parts of this problem solving process.

  1. Identify the question: Determine what is the subject and why it is important
  2. Gather Information
    1. Cases, statutes and other legal authority (legal research)
    2. Facts of the case
  3. Connect the information
    1. Define and articulate the specific legal issue
    2. Determine and articulate the legal rule
    3. Study how that rule has been applied to similar situations in the past
    4. Apply the law to the specific facts and arrive at a conclusion
      1. Use Analogy and Distinction
      2. Determine what the alternative arguments are and why they are not as strong.
  4. Articulate conclusion including logical proof of and support for that conclusion
    1. Move from general to specific
    2. Articulate supporting reasons
    3. For each reason list some further supporting grounds, evidence or data