Rule synthesis is the process of integrating a rule or principle from several cases. It is a skill attorneys and judges use on a daily basis to formulate effective arguments, develop jurisprudence, and anticipate future problems. Teaching new law students how to synthesize rules is a critical component in training them to think like lawyers.
This article suggests how rule synthesis might be taught in one classroom session using real cases. It advocates a three-part approach. First, explain the nature of rule synthesis to the students. Second, do a whimsical exercise with them to show how rule synthesis works. Finally, break into small groups and synthesize a rule from real cases for a hypothetical problem. Massachusetts judges have written a number of very short opinions regarding banana peel litigation. Accordingly, the hypothetical problem suggested involves a banana peel slip-and-fall case set in Boston. Because these opinions are so short, students will have time in class to read them and synthesize a rule from them. In working through the exercise students will see that different rules can be synthesized from the same set of cases.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/paul_figley/4/