University of Technology Sydney

76117 Legal Reasoning

Requisite(s): 70311 Torts
These requisites may not apply to students in certain courses.
There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


One of the aims of Law schools is to teach students how to ‘think like a lawyer’, that is, to train students in the arts of legal argument, legal decision-making and legal reasoning. But while legal thinking and reasoning are commonly thought to be taught to students indirectly or interstitially in the process of instructing them in substantive subjects such as torts, contracts, criminal law, property, constitutional law and so on, students actually learn less about legal thinking and reasoning by osmosis than is widely assumed. There is a need to provide students with a description and analysis of legal reasoning abstracted from particular substantive subjects, for otherwise much of what legal reasoning consists in will fall through the cracks.

The aim of this subject is to meet this need: to introduce students to the thinking, reasoning and argumentative methods of lawyers and judges. It presents students with a picture of legal thinking and reasoning that accurately reflects the realities of present-day lawyering and judging. One of the important questions this subject addresses is whether there is a form of reasoning that is distinctively legal. Do lawyers think, reason and argue differently from members of other professions?

This subject is devoted to exploring the forms of reasoning traditionally associated with lawyers and judges, including rule-based decision-making, the treatment of certain sources as authoritative, respecting (and following) precedent even when it dictates the wrong outcome, attunement to issues surrounding decision-making jurisdiction and sensitivity to the burdens of proof.

Detailed subject description.

Access conditions

Note: The requisite information presented in this subject description covers only academic requisites. Full details of all enforced rules, covering both academic and admission requisites, are available at access conditions and My Student Admin.