International Legacies of the Case Method

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Save the Constitution, the United States’s most famous legal export may well be the case meth-od. This article pieces together the story of how CC Langdell’s brainchild was brought to the rest of the common law world in treading the momentous events and geopolitics of the last cen-tury and a half, and reflects on the lessons from this global experiment for the present and future of the case method. After initially attracting little attention overseas, the rise of the case method encountered its watershed in the postwar period. From then on, the method’s further expansion branched into two narratives: one in the Western world and the other in the former British Afri-can, Asian and Caribbean colonies. The overseas experiments with the case method yielded some durable successes and cast a light on its singular ability to adapt to widely different envi-ronments. But mostly the picture is one of mixed results, especially outside the Western world, owing to a failure to devise an educational program adapted to the varying local circumstances. As with law itself, the teaching of law is inextricably tied to local idiosyncrasies and world poli-tics, thus making the future of the case method as difficult to predict as it would have been for Langdell and his contemporaries. Today’s different national and international contexts from that of 1945 represent an opportunity to reassess the merits of the case method in our more mature legal and educational environments, freed from colonial and neocolonial agendas.

Ce contenu a été mis à jour le 6 novembre 2023 à 18 h 09 min.