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Thinking Like a Lawyer: A New Introduction to Legal Reasoning Paperback – March 19, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This book will belong on every law professor's and law student's bookshelf--and on many others' bookshelves as well. (Lawrence A. Alexander, University of San Diego School of Law, author of Is There a Right of Freedom of Expression?)

Schauer is a leading scholar of jurisprudence and legal process, and his new book is as comprehensive, thorough, and sophisticated an introduction to legal reasoning as it is a lucid one. All of the bases are covered, and law students, teachers, practicing lawyers, and judges alike will gain perspective and insight from seeing the entire range of legal reasoning techniques laid out before them. (Richard A. Posner, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, author of How Judges Think)

Thinking Like a Lawyer is by far the best available introduction to legal reasoning, of interest to law students and their teachers alike. It should be enlightening to the general reader as well, who will learn what, for better and perhaps for worse, distinguishes 'thinking like a lawyer' from other approaches to analyzing social problems. (Sanford V. Levinson, University of Texas Law School, author of Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong)

Thinking Like a Lawyer is well-designed to work for first-year law school classes. It covers the most important themes relating to law and legal reasoning, and manages to do so in ways that are accessible and thought-provoking. (Brian H. Bix, University of Minnesota, author of Jurisprudence: Theory and Context)

A welcome complement to [Edward] Levi's approach, as well as being easier for the legal novice to understand. Yet Schauer's book also offers the lawyer and scholar useful perspective on what he or she does. (Brian Leiter Times Literary Supplement 2010-02-12)

Thinking Like a Lawyer is excellent reading material for anyone wishing a deeper and more nuanced--even a more magnanimous--understanding of the motivations behind law's often convoluted pronouncements. (John Azzolini Law Library Journal 2010-02-01)

About the Author

Frederick Schauer is David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (April 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674062485
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674062481
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Those looking for a book about how to cope with the day-to-day struggles of law school, such as exam writing, note taking, reading cases and writing briefs, should look elsewhere. Instead, Frederick Schauer describes in detail the thought process of good lawyers when confronted with legal conflicts. He begins by posing the question, "if legal thinking is distinct, what are those things that make it different than the thinking that occurs in other professions?" (paraphrased). A neat set up for what follows.

Common law, precedent, the use of rules, the use of cases, judicial opinions, it is all here, illustrated with examples and descriptions of opposing viewpoints and philosophies. Schauer also provides fascinating asides at the appropriate moments. I absolutely loved the chapter, "The Use And Abuse Of Analogies" partly because it pointed out an interesting distinction between everyday analogical thinking and the use of precedent. His passages exploring whether or not common law is law also stand out.

Though not a long book, "Thinking Like a Lawyer" covers a lot of ground while still managing to give each topic a thorough treatment. He is clear, impartial, and considerate to the needs of aspiring 1Ls. While the book does not seem to be geared specifically to aspiring 1Ls, it has served me well by giving an overview on how the legal mind tends to work in school and in the profession.
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"Thinking Like a Lawyer" is an excellent philosophical analysis of basic legal concepts such as rule, precedent, analogy, and discretion. It would make a great gift for any second-year law student who wants to step back from her 1,000-page casebooks and make sense of the basic building blocks of the law. "Thinking Like a Lawyer" won't help this student (or anyone else) write briefs, argue in court, or counsel clients, but it will enlarge her mind and deepen her understanding of the uniqueness of legal reasoning. Six stars.
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Really enjoyed this book. I found it to be a very accessible introduction to legal thought and to some of the more nuanced debates that have pervaded the subject for many years. Schauer was very thorough in his exposition of the subject as well as incredibly attentive to the lay reader, as I consider myself to be. For each topic that he approaches, he gives elucidating examples along with an astute analysis which considers multiple paradigms within their historical context. After reading this book, I feel that I have begun to develop a taste for legal reasoning and have laid a rudimentary foundation from which to acquire a deeper understanding of many of the topics that were discussed throughout the book.

The reason that I was initially intrigued by this book is that I am planning to attend law school in the fall and I felt that a good primer on the subject was an appropriate starting point. Although I believe this book will not nor does it profess to directly improve your performance in law school, I feel that my reading was not in vain.

From reading this book, I feel that I have developed a beginners knowledge in some of the major topics within legal thought as well as a respect for the history of many fundamental legal theories as they pertain to legal reasoning. In addition, this book has also sparked my interest in the subject as a whole and from here I will begin to read more specific treatments of the subject.

If you enjoy learning about the law, philosophy and some history, then this book may be for you. If you are about to enter law school and are seeking a how to book for legal reasoning as it pertains to doing well in law school, then you should look at "Getting to Maybe."
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I chose this rating because I believe the book is one the very best and clearest books that I have read on the topic of legal reasoning. I think the book or parts of it would be ver helpful to law students in their second semester of law school.
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I read this as a 0L and I'm glad that I did. It focuses mostly on the rationale behind court decisions and explains why decisions which seem unfair are actually in the broad scheme of things the right legal decision. It also discussed jurisdiction in terms of authority and burden of proof and the chapters on those subjects were illuminating. Some of what Schauer has to say is common sense, for example I thought much of chapter 2 was self-evident after reading a law 101 book, but I still think I learned enough to justify buying Schauer's book.

My biggest complaint is that he is long-winded and repetitive at times. There's an argument for his repetitiveness which is that he wants to make totally sure that you understand a concept before moving on. Plus, in the first chapter of the book (which I thought was a total waste of time reading) he says that he will repeat himself at times because he assumes people will read this book in chunks. But despite the argument in favor of the repetitiveness, I think he could trim the book down considerably if he cut down on the myriad of examples and had a less pretentious writing style. I also remember reading about 10 pages of a concept which had minimal importance to American law and had mostly to do with British law (I think it had to do with court opinions, but it was not in the judicial opinions chapter).

On the whole I'm glad I read the book and I would suggest it to other 0Ls.
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