Thinking Like a Lawyer

An Introduction to Legal Reasoning


Kenneth J. Vandevelde

Second Edition • December 1, 2010 • 352 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813344645 • $30.00 USD$38.99 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813345253 • $19.99 USD$19.99 CAN

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Law students, law professors, and lawyers frequently refer to the process of thinking like a lawyer, but attempts to analyze in any systematic way what is meant by that phrase are rare. In his classic book, Kenneth J. Vandevelde defines this elusive phrase and identifies the techniques involved in thinking like a lawyer. Unlike most legal writings, which are plagued by difficult, virtually incomprehensible language, this book is accessible and clearly written and will help students, professionals, and general readers gain important insight into this well-developed and valuable way of thinking.

Updated for a new generation of lawyers, the second edition features a new chapter on contemporary perspectives on legal reasoning. A useful new appendix serves as a survival guide for current and prospective law students and describes how to apply the techniques in the book to excel in law school.


Kenneth J . Vandevelde is a Professor of Law and former Dean at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he has practiced law before U.S. courts and international tribunals. He is the author of numerous books and articles on U.S. and international law.

Introduction

Part One: Basic Legal Reasoning
1. Identifying Applicable Law
2. Analyzing the Law
3. Synthesizing the Law
4. Researching the Facts
5. Applying the Law

Part Two: Reasoning With Policies
6. Policy Analysis, Synthesis, and Application
7. Contracts
8. Torts
9. Constitutional Law
10. Civil Procedure

Part Three: Perspectives on Legal Reasoning
11. A Historical Perspective on Legal Reasoning
12. Contemporary Perspectives on Legal Reasoning

Conclusion
Appendix: Thinking Like a Law Student

Praise for the First Edition:

“Contains the best introduction to legal reasoning that I know of.” —Duncan Kennedy, Harvard Law School.

“Vandevelde restores luster to the phrase ‘thinking like a lawyer.’ Everyone, whether a newly entering law student or an experienced practitioner, will take away from Thinking Like a Lawyer valuable insights about law and lawyering in the United States.” —Christopher G. and Jill Robinson Wren, coauthors, The Legal Research Manual

“Manages at one and the same time to take legal reasoning seriously and yet not be taken in by it. Written in a lively and engaging style, this book is both comprehensive in its treatment of the subject and provocative in its central argument, namely that thinking like a lawyer means making judgments about policies… . A real achievement.” —Austin Sarat, Amherst College

“A comprehensive overview of the standard techniques of legal reasoning. It stands out because of the way it enriches the basic discussion with perspectives from legal history and theory.” —Joan Williams, American University

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