56 J. Legal Educ. 332 (2006)
The Development of Legal Reasoning Skills in Law Students: An Empirical Study

handle is hein.journals/jled56 and id is 340 raw text is: The Development of Legal
Reasoning Skills in Law Students:
An Empirical Study
Stefan H. Krieger
This article describes a study examining the development of legal reasoning
skills in law students through their law school careers and reports some prelimi-
nary findings comparing the cognitive development of medical and law stu-
dents.' During the past two decades, scholars have begun to study the process
by which medical students progress from novices to expert practitioners and
the effect of different curricula on this development.) Studying subjects at all
levels of medical expertise-from first-year medical students to medical resi-
dents to experienced specialists in practice, these researchers have developed
theories grounded in empirical findings about the reasoning process of expert
Stefan H. Krieger is professor of law and Director of Clinical Programs, Hofstra University.
I wish to thank John DeWitt Gregory, David R. Kaufman, Lawrence W. Kessler, Jonathan D.
Krieger, Vimla L. Patel, and the participants in the Hofstra Faculty Workshop for their assistance.
I also wish to express my gratitude to my research assistants Michelle McGreal, Alex Pimentel,
Elizabeth Quinn, Teresa Staples, and Yonatan Zamir for their help in conducting this study and
the preparation of this manuscript. Finally, I would like to thank Hofstra University for providing
me with the research support that made this article possible.
The study was conducted in consultation with educational psychologist Vimla L. Patel
and one of her associates, David Kaufman. It extended her studies on the development of
skills of medical students. Vimla L. Patel et al., Differences Between Medical Students and
Doctors in Memory for Clinical Cases, 2o Med. Educ. 3 (I986).
Q.  See, e.g., David R. Kaufman and Vimla L. Patel, The Nature of Expertise in the Clinical
Interview: Interactive Medical Problem Solving, in Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Con-
ference of the Cognitive Science Society 461 (Hillsdale, NJ., 1988); Vimla L. Patel, David
R. Kaufman, and Jose F Arocha, Conceptual Change in the Biomedical and Health Sci-
ences Domain, in Advances in Instructional Psychology (Robert Glasser ed., Mahwah,
N.J., 2ooo) [hereinafter Patel et al., Conceptual Change]; Vimla L. Patel, Jos6 E Arocha,
and David R. Kaufman, Expertise and Tacit Knowledge in Medicine, in Tacit Knowledge
in Professional Practice 75 (Robert H. Sternberg and Joseph A. Horvath eds., Mahwah,
N.J., 1999) [hereinafter Patel et al., Expertise and Tacit Knowledge]; Vimla L. Patel and
David R. Kaufman, Clinical Reasoning and Biomedical Knowledge: Implications for
Teaching, in Clinical Reasoning in the Health Professions 117 (Joy Higgs and Mark Jones
eds., Oxford, 1995); Vimla L. Patel and GuyJ. Groen, The General and Specific Nature
of Medical Expertise: A Critical Look, in Toward A General Theory of Expertise 93 (K.
Anders Ericsson and Jacqui Smith eds., Cambridge, i99i); Jose E Arocha and Vimla L.

Journal of Legal Education, Volume 56, Number 3 (September 2oo6)

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