Skilful Lawyering – Success in the profession

Catherine Gordon

The process of developing critical thinking is one highly regarded skill of every law student. Another less discussed but equally important skill is the ability to interpret statutes. This skill is at the core of being a lawyer as it provides a foundation in problem solving and text interpretation as it relates to the significant body of legal writing, that is, legislation.  This skill is critical when a case may involve a statute. In such a scenario the application of one’s understanding of the legislation helps a lawyer to win or lose a case.

The difficulty of interpretation is that the law uses language to express itself and words can be ambiguous and open to interpretation. It’s incumbent then on judges to use tools and methods to fairly manage ambiguity. These tools have been developed over years. An understanding of these tools and methods is taught to law students. This is the core of the subject – Statutory Interpretation.

Statutory Interpretation needs practise and this can be difficult to achieve in a short semester program so the skill is also embedded into other law subject areas.  Your first exposure to statutory interpretation is in your first year of study. In first year it is often difficult to fully grasp its importance since there is an over-whelming number of new subjects to consider, including new research skills.

LexisNexis has been supporting students and the legal profession for a long time – over 200 years! In 1818 the company was founded in London by Henry Butterworths. In the 1970s LexisNexis pioneered the electronic accessibility of law journals.  This long history means that there’s a long tradition of supporting the profession and a deep understanding of the needs of professionals.  As well as employing many legally-trained staff we enthusiastically engage with everyone connected to the profession – including students.  We strongly support students’ in growing their research skills.  Often research programs are delivered at universities by highly skilled LexisNexis trainers.  We ensure that law school librarians are up-to-date with current legal research method. In this Covid-world we’ve been successfully delivering research courses online.

And we want to support the development of statutory interpretation skills too. Recently, LexisNexis has launched an eLearn product to help students to practise their skills. This online resource (designed to take no more than 7 hours of practise time) has been mindfully priced for students. eLearn: Statutory Interpretation – An Introduction is available now from the LexisNexis eStore.

For more information contact the Lexis® Learning Team:

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