Faculty Notes

Prof. Vern Walker Conducts Seminars at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy

Vern R. Walker, Professor of Law and Director of the Research Laboratory for Law, Logic and Technology

Professor Vern R. Walker conducted two four-day seminar courses in early May 2009, at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy. The two courses together constituted an intensive, interactive workshop in the logical analysis and modeling of legal reasoning.

The courses combined both theory and skills, employed newly developed modeling software, and took a problem-based, stepped approach to learning. A major focus of the courses was on a methodology for conducting empirical research on legal reasoning. A major goal was to explore the usefulness of software for making legal reasoning more transparent, consistent, effective, and efficient.

In the first course, Building Legal Reasoning Trees, students developed tools for analyzing legal rules, as well as for assessing the probative value of evidence, by modeling the reasoning in U.S. decisions about compensation for vaccine-related injuries.

In the second course, Assessing the Probative Value of Evidence, students used the tools developed in the first course to model the reasoning in decisions about liability for medical malpractice in the United States, in Ireland, and in England and Wales. This course’s work was on entire decisions, as well as extracted exercises.