Why should lawyers, in their high-pressure, time-is-money line of work, bother to map arguments?
Yesterday Jane Lewis and I presented to a large Australian firm in their “Continuing Legal Education” series. There were about 100 or so lawyers from across the various practice areas. The session was introduced by the partner who has been most active in building a culture of argument mapping in his team. He mentioned the following four potential benefits:
- improve the quality of reasoning, primarily by making the reasoning more explicit and thereby available for more rigorous scrutiny
- improve the efficiency of the processes by which legal “products” containing reasoning are generated
- improve lawyers’ basic reasoning skills, i.e., their ability to organise and evaluate arguments “in their heads”
- improve the communication of complex reasoning to others, either within the firm or to clients, in court etc.
Of course, the extent to which these benefits are realised depends in part on the level of commitment to the activity.
Oh, if only. I know of a few very good lawyers who map their arguments, in their heads. Do you know of any who do it formally, so a second chair could stand in if they got hit by a bus?
Of course, Australian courts are probably more formal than U.S. courts, and closer to the English tradition. You might see more of formal mapping there.