Law, Decision-Making, and Microcomputers: Cross-National Perspectives

By Stuart S. Nagel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
Using Microcomputers
in Case-Method Law Teaching
Stuart S. NagelThe purpose of this chapter is to describe some ways in which microcomputers can be used in the kind of law teaching that involves working with appellate court cases as the key materials to be analyzed.The analysis of cases involves a variety of activities, including:
1. Briefing an individual case, or distilling an appellate court opinion down to its essential facts, issues, decisions on each issue, reasoning behind each decision, and overall holding.
2. Synthesizing sets of cases, or determining their cross-cutting principles, modifications, exceptions, reasons, and overall decision rules, which explain why some cases were decided one way and others differently.
3. Legal policy evaluation, or deciding among conflicting legal rules which is better or best in light of various goals and the relations between the goals and the rules.

This chapter is organized in terms of those four basic activities in using the case method for law teaching. Within each activity, there are different kinds of subactivities, as will be clarified in the article. All the activities can benefit from the use of microcomputer software that is based on spreadsheet analysis with columns, rows, cells, totals for the columns, and totals for the rows. Such a framework will be applied to each of the four activities. Doing so is facilitated by more specific software referred to as multi-criteria decision-making (MCDM) software. A specific variation of MCDM software which is discussed in this chapter is called Policy/Goal Percentaging (abbreviated P/G%), named as such because it was originally developed for relating legal policies to societal goals and because it makes use of percentaging to deal with goals that are measured

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