the law, which can culminate in a single rule structure, multiple rule struc-
tures, and/or different perspectives on the law. For a reader unaccustomed
to thinking beyond the text presented on the page, legal synthesis presents
a significant challenge. Novice readers read legal texts repeatedly, looking
for a formula or answer within the text, not knowing that the real meaning of
the text lies outside the text. The meaning arises when the reader uses the
texts to construct an understanding of the law. Too few undergraduate pro-
grams provide students with the opportunity to synthesize material, prefer-
ring instead to provide the information to the students in a pre-synthesized
4. Students struggle to perform critical analysis of text
Critically thinking about the text also presents challenges for beginning law
students. Thinking critically requires that the student analyze the text by
breaking it into parts and consider the composition of each part and the
parts’ relationship to one another and the whole. Critical thinking also re-
quires that the reader inspect the text for evidence of bias, prejudice, or
hidden agenda. And as the reader forms opinions about the text and the
rule structure within the test, the reader must also be cognizant of his own
bias, prejudice, or agenda as he or she reads. My experience suggests
that many students enter law school without a firm background in critical
reading. Instead, the students are used to accepting the text at face value,
thinking that they have understood and analyzed the text if they merely
recite or summarize what the text has stated.
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