Reading Notes

There are three main types of legal reasoning.

  1. Rule-based reasoning
  2. Analogous reasoning
  3. Policy-based reasoning

We will examine each in turn.

Rule-based reasoning

This basis of reasoning is the most straightforward. You take the parts of a rule and apply them directly to the case. For instance “all dogs go to heaven” is a rule. “Fido is a dog, therefore, Fido goes to heaven” is an application of that rule. Analogous reasoning is not only not necessary, but annoying. The reading outlines the example of a person who files for a divorce. The rule clearly states that a person who files divorce is entitled to a name change. So, a client can change their name (if they are filing for divorce). There is no need to pull up other cases that say, “because so and so had their name change, and their situation was similar to mine, I can also have my name changed.”

Analogous reasoning

Reasoning by analogy. The point of this reasoning is to try and prove your client’s similarity or dissimilarity to current precedent.

One of the biggest takeaways form Analogous reasoning is that you will want to provide both arguments to a case. In other words, make sure you are providing counter-arguments. You will look at the facts, see how they are similar or dissimilar, and use that information to make predictive results.

Policy-based reasoning

The purpose here is to try and say that a verdict in favor of your client will result in positive impacts for society. This process is less common because hopefully precedent already benefits society.

Policy-based arguments typically occur after rule and analogous based arguments occur. They take the rule, make an analogy, and state why those examples may be necessary to benefit a policy. It is important to understand that policy-based reasoning is less powerful than the other forms of reasoning because it is not dependent on a rule. Rather, the policy-based reasoning can show the benefits of following a rule, something more tangible, but it is not necessary for legal application.

Pre-Drafting Analysis

After you understand the rules it is time for us to begin pre-drafting our analysis. How do we do that? Well, we first need to understand the format of the analysis. Then we need to gather the information necessary to filling in that format. All of the information is material that we have reviewed. We need the global rule –> the processing case –> emergent legal rule along with all it’s guiding factors, facts, and analysis. Once we have gathering this information from an authoritative source, we can make comparisons to provide a predictive result to our client.

This process of pre-drafting could be very time consuming. However, the organizational benefits and the compartmentalized information should be very helpful when it comes time to draft our analysis.


The content contained in this article may contain inaccuracies and is not intended to reflect the opinions, views, beliefs, or practices of any academic professor or publication. Instead, this content is a reflection on the author’s understanding of the law and legal practices.

Will Laursen

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