What is PPS?

Practical Problem-Solving ("PPS") involves the range of skills that lawyers use regularly in practice in addition to legal research, writing, and analysis. These skills include fact gathering, client interviewing and counseling, negotiation, representation in ADR processes, and drafting legal documents, among others. Below is a broader list of practical problem-solving skills and issues.

It is important for students to be exposed to PPS in many courses to emphasize the importance of these skills and to increase students’ opportunity to learn more about lawyering.

Many faculty already incorporate some PPS in their courses. This can be quite subtle, for example, asking students to discuss cases in a casebook from the perspective of a lawyer advising a client or negotiating with the other side. Faculty sometimes inject PPS into class discussion when analyzing hypothetical problems and possible solutions. Sometimes faculty assign students to do simulations outside of class dealing with particular legal issues. These are just a few ways that faculty can increase attention to practical application of legal doctrine.

Practical Problem-Solving Skills and Issues

  1. General interpersonal skills
    1. Collaboration and working in groups (working with others)
    2. Communication (listening, empathy, presentation, etc.)
    3. Self-awareness and reflection on skills, strengths and weaknesses
    4. Dealing with cultural differences

  1. General lawyering skills
    1. Managing the lawyer-client relationship (including development of confidence and judgment)
    2. Client interviewing and counseling  (including focus on clients’ interests)
    3. Fact gathering and research
    4. Writing (contracts/deals, memos, and other legal documents)
    5. Analysis of clients’ alternatives

  1. Particular dispute resolution skills
    1. Negotiation
    2. Representation in ADR processes (e.g., mediation, arbitration)
    3. Dispute resolution system design
    4. Dispute resolution process selection
    5. Function as a neutral (e.g., mediator or arbitrator)

  1. Professionalism
    1. Professional responsibility and ethics
    2. Managing legal work
    3. Business model of legal practice
    4. Addressing issues of substantive or procedural justice