A Tale of Two Case Methods

16 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2007 Last revised: 24 Dec 2007

See all articles by Benjamin H. Barton

Benjamin H. Barton

University of Tennessee College of Law

Abstract

This essay argues that law schools should adopt the business school case method. Business school cases are generally real life problems. They ask the students to read the files and then perform actual management tasks. The students also generally work in teams and are graded on their actual work throughout the semester. The students thus spend their time learning how to actually manage, instead of only learning dry management theory.

There are several advantages to the business school case method. The business school case method is much more focused on the actual process of being a business manager. By comparison, the law school case method focuses on the work of judges, not lawyers.

The team aspect of business schools is also preferable to traditional law school classes. Some lawyers practice solo, but a majority work in groups, and working on a team is a necessary (and largely untaught) legal skill.

Business schools also give students more regular feedback on their work, because each project/case is graded along the way. Business school grading is also much more rational than law school grading (and better approximates the experiences of MBA students when they graduate). This is because MBA students are graded on the strength of their actual work, not a single exam at the end of the semester. In sum, trading case methods with MBA programs might vastly improve the first year, and legal education as a whole.

Keywords: business school case method, law school teaching

Suggested Citation

Barton, Benjamin H., A Tale of Two Case Methods. Tennessee Law Review, Vol. 75, No. 3, 2008, University of Tennessee Legal Studies Research Paper No. 16, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1021306

Benjamin H. Barton (Contact Author)

University of Tennessee College of Law ( email )

1505 West Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
United States

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