Judicial Fallibility, Inverted Learning and the Indispensability of Reason: Piloting ‘Advanced Legal Reasoning’ in Ireland

AuthorMaria Cahill
Published date01 January 2019
Date01 January 2019
Subject MatterArticles
Judicial Fallibility, Inverted
Learning and the Indispensability
of Reason: Piloting ‘Advanced
Legal Reasoning’ in Ireland
Maria Cahill1
In many law schools around the world, the Socratic method is a cultural anathema and the Oxbridge
tutorial system a financial impracticability: how then can these law schools, which adhere to the traditional
lecture format nonetheless promote the dedicated teaching of legal reasoning? Seven years ago, a specific
module dedicated to the development of these skills, Advanced Legal Reasoning, was offered for the
first time as an optional final-year module at University College Cork in Ireland. This course probes the
requirements of legal reasoning in the context of particular cases, and it proposes a modified version
of the ‘flipped classroom’ phenomenon, an approach called Inverted Learning, to do so. This article
proposes four principles of Inverted Learning, which are (a) first exposure responsibility, (b) support
for experimentation, (c) expectation of mastery and (d) humanization of the classroom. They inculcate
the virtues of intellectual autonomy, intellectual courage, intellectual humility and intellectual charity,
respectively. Each of these principles was put into practice in very concrete ways through the delivery
of the Advanced Legal Reasoning module in order to develop the capacity of the students to reason
effectively and to appreciate the indispensability of reason within the legal system.
Law schools typically excel at teaching the content of the law and, thanks to a recent push towards clini-
cal education (including skills modules which teach legal writing, oral presenting, problem-solving and
mooting), they are now also beginning to excel in terms of teaching students how to communicate the
content of the law.1 Between having knowledge of the content of the law and being able to communicate
1 F.S. Bloch (Ed.), The Global clinical MoveMenT: educaTinG lawyers for social JusTice (Oxford University Press, 2011);
shuvro Prosun sarker, anirban chakraborTy et al., inTeGraTed clinical leGal educaTion (Universal Law Publishing, 2014);
J. Hall & K. KerriGan, Clinic and the Wider Law Curriculum, 16 InT. J. Clin. LeGal Educ. 25–37 (2011). We can tend to think
Asian Journal of Legal Education
6(1–2) 7–17, 2019
© 2019 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2322005818804049
1 School of Law, University College Cork, Ireland.
Corresponding author:
Maria Cahill, School of Law, University College Cork, Cork, T12 CC79, Ireland.
E-mail: maria.cahill@ucc.ie

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