Case System

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Case system is a customary means of instruction in law schools where general legal principles are learned through the reading and discussion of cases. Typically, students in a class are assigned to peruse one or more cases on a particular topic prior to class, and the professor uses questions to students as a means of developing an inquiry into the facts and context in which the controversy arose, the legal doctrines at issue, the ways in which court judges understood those doctrines and applied them to the facts and context, and the adequacy of the result as a matter of law and justice. This inductive system of teaching law was introduced as a technique by Professor Christopher C. Langdell at Harvard Law School in 1869. The case method of teaching then became the most prevalent form of instruction in American law schools. It is also known as the case method, casebook method, and the Langdell method. See also: Legal education.

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]