Publication Date

January 2013


I began teaching Remedies as a problem-solving course over a decade ago. I was then in my third year of teaching and found that the Remedies course just wasn’t clicking. The students, mostly third-years, were bored with the Socratic method and seemingly resistant to the demands of this important course. My teaching grew more cumbersome as I waded deeper into the mire of the complexities of a transsubstantive field. Remedies class felt like a slog in the mud for all of us. After just a few years with the course, I thought there had to be a better way. I stumbled upon the problem method, which revolutionized my pedagogy for Remedies. In my view, this teaching approach is particularly well-suited for the Remedies course. Others think so too, as the most common question I get as an editor of a Remedies casebook from faculty new to teaching the course is how to teach it using the problem method.

Problem-solving is ubiquitous as the trendy mantra of what lawyers and regular people are supposed to be learning for better dispute resolution. Everyone from kindergartners to business executives is now instructed on the basic steps of problem-solving techniques. Critics of legal education, like the influential 2007 Carnegie Report, have focused on problem-solving as an important aspect of teaching legal rules, contextualized with professional judgment and practical meaning for clients. Law schools have taught problem-solving through problem-method approaches to traditional classes, group projects akin to a business school case model, in-role situations like clinics or trial advocacy, and dedicated problem-solving workshops like those offered at Harvard and Akron Law Schools.

This Essay explains what the problem method means to me in the context of Remedies, how a professor might concretely utilize a problem-method approach, and why others see problem-solving as an important (if not critical) pedagogical approach. Part I traces my exploration of the literature on problem-method simulations in the classroom and my adaptations to the process. Part II details the value the problem method adds to a course in student interest, learning, and assessment. Part III then shows how the problem method, particularly in the Remedies course, operates as a bridge to practice, instilling deeper learning and professional competencies critical to legal education.

Publication Title

Saint Louis University Law Journal