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Learning Legal Reasoning: Briefing, Analysis and Theory (Delaney Series Book 1) Revised Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0960851447
ISBN-10: 0960851445
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Editorial Reviews


Learning Legal Reasoning is a wonderful piece of work ... truly deep while presented in a way that seems accessible and even simple. The last chapter is great ... the book deserves to be adopted in Introduction to Law, Legal Method and other courses. -- Professor Howard Lesnick, University of Pennsylvania Law School

After reading this book, begnning law students will know what it means to read, think, talk and write like a lawyer. The examples of good and poor briefs demonstrate what to do and what to avoid. -- Professor Susan Tucker, Former Director, First Year Writing Program, New York University School of Law

From the Author

I recommend that you first read Learning Legal Reasoning and study it well, then go on to How To Do Your Best on Law School Exams book. Avoid the too-frequent first-year blunder of waiting to prepare for exams until the final week or two of the semester. That's for college, not for law school. Begin right away, from the beginning of law school, by adding an exam "lens" to everything you do. The Exam book shows you, step-by-step, how to do this. Always keep in mind that the skills that got you to law school are not the skills you need to excel on law school exams. My third book, Learning Criminal Law as Advocacy Argument, incorporates common themes embodied in Learning Legal Reasoning and How to Do Your Best on Law School Exams. In each criminal law topic, it presents in building-block form the limited repertoire of core issues and related arguments so that you can concentrate your study on learning and practicing those that your professor has stressed in class, in her materials, and on her old exams.In addition, the Inside the Book section of this page includes the Detailed Table of Contents and parts of Chapter One of Learning Legal Reasoning.

Product Details

  • Series: Delaney Series Book 1
  • Paperback: 139 pages
  • Publisher: John Delaney Pubns; Revised edition (May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0960851445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0960851447
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A law professor for thirty years, John Delaney taught Criminal Law, Advanced Criminal Law, Comparative Criminal Law, International Criminal Law and other subjects to law school students and students in masters and doctoral degree programs at the New York University School of Law. He then taught Criminal Law, Advanced Criminal Law, the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, Jurisprudence, a First-Year Seminar and other subjects at the City University of New York Law School. Learning Legal Reasoning emerged from these many years of teaching and reflecting.

Now retired, Professor Delaney is also the author of law review articles. His First Amendment article, "Police Power Absolutism and Nullifying the Free Exercise Clause: A Critique of Oregon v. Smith," 25 Ind. L. Rev. 71 (1991), has been cited in more than thirty law review articles and by many courts including the Supreme Court of California and the Supreme Court of Texas. His books additionally include How To Do Your Best on Law School Exams and Learning Criminal Law as Advocacy Argument: Complete with Exam Problems and Answers. He was also the General Editor of nine other books, mostly about comparative law, in the American Series of Foreign Penal Codes.

Prior to teaching, Professor Delaney conducted approximately one thousand trials and he prepared more than one hundred and fifty appeals. He lives with his wife Pat and daughter Clare in the beautiful Catskill region of New York and communicates with students by e-mail.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am the author of Planet Law School: What You Need to Know Before You Go -- but Didn't Know to Ask. So, it might seem that John Delaney and I are competitors (and our books do have different publishers). But as I said in PLS, this book by Delaney is something every serious law student should get.
He presents beautiful examples of "case-parsing," which is what good legal analysis involves. In fact, he's brilliant, but without being flashy about it. To read his book is to rise above all the drudgery and the minutiae of the first-year of law school, and to see the beauty of what's involved in "Thinking Like a Lawyer." It is inspiring.
Yet, the book isn't some "ivory tower" fantasy on the Wonders of the Law. It's very down-to-earth, nitty-gritty, in the way you actually have to go about applying the law to the facts.
Too many prospective law school students are only interested in a "quickie" book that they kid themselves will help them adequately prepare for what lies ahead. They'll be sorry. Learning Legal Reasoning is NOT "Law School Lite." But it is a delight.
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Format: Paperback
This is a must-read for anyone going to law school. It orients the beginning law student to the interweaving case law, statutory law, and policy that guide judicial opinions and teaches students how to extract the key elements from those opinions by way of the case briefing method.
At 130 pages, it is page for page, and pound for pound, one of the best law prep books you can find.
That said, don't think this book is a "quick read." Quite the contrary. To get the most out of this book, you must do some writing - "brief" all six cases presented and compare your work to the samples provided. Then highlight and note what you did right, and what you did wrong. Put the time and work in, and by your 6th brief, you will be amazed at how much progress you have made towards case briefing proficiency (one of the fundamental skills required of first year law students).

Whether or not you read anything else before starting law school, you will want to read this book. If you are really serious about preparing for law school (which you should be if you plan on getting good grades), you'll also need the other books in the Delaney series: "How to Do Your Best on Law School Exams," and "Learning Criminal Law as Advocacy Argument."
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I'm going into my 2nd year and bought this book because I didn't get the grades I wanted as a 1L. I was a straight-A undergrad (English major) and scored 96th percentile on the LSAT, so I had high expectations of myself. The problem was, I didn't really "get" what my professors expected of me. This book nails it. I learned of it last week by desperately reading through law student Listmanias on Amazon when the last of my grades came through and I knew I needed some help if I wanted to do better next year. I had never heard of the book and don't know anyone who has read it-- it seems to be self-published, and I ordered it directly from his company; I don't think you'll see it in your school bookstore (I didn't).

I actually don't even know if his advice would resonate as well with me as a 1L as it does now, so I'd encourage other current law students looking to improve their grades to read it, especially if you're like me and struggling to understand why you didn't do better than you expected. But I definitely wish I'd read it last year-- my classes would have made a lot more sense. On the first page of Chapter 1, Delaney proposes a definition of "what law is" to explain what the first year of law school is about: "Law is a process of legal reasoning for decision-making about particular controversies." Believe it or not, I truly didn't get that my first year; I thought I just needed to "spot the issues." But there's a lot more to it than that, and I'm glad I found something that spells it all out in a way that none of my professors did. I've only just started reading so I can't report on all the content, but I wanted to encourage anyone just starting or looking to improve their grades to pick this one up before school starts. Good luck in school!
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I just finished reading (working through I should say) Learning Legal Reasoning, and I'm amazed at how much I got out of it. You actually get practice applying skills that are explained in a very thoughtful way. I certainly can't produce briefs as good as the examples in the book, but it seems like I am about 70% there, which gives me confidence since I have quite a while before starting school. It's a fantastic introduction.
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I read this book and worked through the problems the week before law school. I have to say that, after a week and a half, I feel very comfortable briefing cases. Yesterday I was crunched for time and did a complicated, short case in just 10 minutes. I hit on all of the main points, although I didn't have the wording or scope of the rule down (that takes more time than reading and highlighting the case).

I didn't write in this book, but I would suggest that you copy the first couple of cases in it and practice with multiple highlighters. I use Yellow for facts and to highlight something I know will be relevant in this first pass through. Then I go back and use orange for Issue/Holding (subsequently the rule), Blue for procedural history and judgment, pink for reasoning, and green for any dicta.

The things I didn't get from this book was the ability to spot dicta, this actually takes practice and I'm starting to get it.

Normally I would have given it 4 stars, but since there is nothing comparable and I have people asking me for advice, I think it is worthy of the 5 star.

As a side note, the professor has even sent me an email twice concerning some issues to watch (Sotomaier hearing and his free youtube videos).

This, along with "Getting to Maybe" (which is pretty complicated so I would read the intro and part 3 prior to the other two sections) are sure to help you understand what you should be learning in law school.
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