Student Legal Reasoning



Thank you for your participation today. This is a short research study on the development of legal reasoning skills by law students.

This is not a test of your abilities, but rather an attempt to determine how people think about legal problems. You will not be graded, and your answers will not be revealed to your professors. Your responses will be tape recorded to ensure accuracy. These tapes will not be shared with anyone outside of the research team.

First you will be given a sample problem to work through. This is to familiarize you with verbalizing your thought process. This is only a warm-up and is not part of the study. When answering the question please verbalize your thoughts as naturally as possible. Please do not explain or rationalize your thoughts but rather communicate them in a free flowing manner. The easiest way to do this is to go through your normal thought process but say everything aloud as if no one else were in the room.

[Present subject with LSAT problem.]

Next, you will be presented with a legal problem. Please read the problem (aloud or to yourself) and verbalize any thoughts you have as you read. This should mirror your normal thought process. It should be as natural as possible. Remember, just as in the previous exercise you only need to report what you are thinking without explaining why you think it. Following the presentation of the case you will read a question. The information on the page is all the information available regarding the problem.

[Subject reads problem]

[Take problem away from subject.]

Please provide a summary of the case you just read.

[Subject responds.]

Anything else?

[Return paper to subject.]

What are your thoughts regarding the question presented at the end of the case?

[If they begin to rationalize or explain their answer as this point remind them to REPORT what they are thinking about the problem.]

Anything else?

Thank you for your time today. We ask that you not discuss the study, the legal problems presented to you or any of your answers with anyone else at Hofstra. This is to ensure that other potential participants are not tainted and that we are able to gather quality data.