Fact management and decision-making skills: adapting the Wigmorean chart for business law students

Paper presented at the 2013 CLEA Conference in Durban

Michael Connolly
Lecturer
University of Surrey, UK

Teaching law to business students commonly raises two teaching issues: the tension between what business students require and what law tutors are conditioned to provide, and that business students struggle with the legal problem-solving exercises provided in their assessments. These apparently unrelated needs of business students share common skills: (1) identifying issues, (2) organising and analysing facts, and (3) decision-making. A seemingly unrelated discipline is the science of proof, which was developed most graphically in 1913 by John Henry Wigmore.

Wigmore addressed the science of with his chart method of analysing facts. He presented a visual method of identifying issues, organising and analysing facts accordingly, and consequential decision-making. These skills would provide genuine benefits for business law students. The key is to adapt the Wigmore model for these needs.

The aim of this paper is to explain the Wigmore chart method, derive the essence of the necessary thought processes, and adapt the chart method to suit the needs of business law students, providing basic skills that will enhance work-related decision-making and academic legal problem-solving. This particular project focusses on the (technically difficult) area of employment discrimination.

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