Legal practitioners and legal scientists need to have knowledge of the general rules that apply in the legal system. This
involves both knowledge of the legislation and knowledge of the decisions by judges that function as general rules of law.
Law students preparing themselves for the legal profession need to acquire these kinds of knowledge. A student has to have
knowledge about where to look for decisions, understand the structure of decisions and learn to determine what makes a decision
relevant to the body of applicable rules in the legal system. Legal education primarily aims at acquiring insight in the legal
sources, their history and background. This basic knowledge is of great importance; legal problem solving is hardly possible
without an understanding of the legal knowledge. To illustrate the use of this knowledge in practice, teachers work through
decisions as examples. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to learn by explanation or by imitation alone. A more
effective way to obtain expertise is by actually performing the task, i.e. students should do the exercises, while the teacher
provides feedback on their solutions. For effective learning, also the solution process should be monitored and provided with
feedback. Furthermore it is desirable for students to be able to ask for help at any time during the process. They should
also be able to practice over and over again. An ideal situation would have a teacher available for every student, monitoring
the student while practicing and providing support where and whenever necessary. However, this being not practically feasible,
the second best option is to offer the student electronic support.
CASE (Case Analysis and Structuring Environment) is
an environment where a law student can practice with finding decisions, with structuring its text and with analysing the decision
in order to be able to determine in what way it adds to the body of applicable rules in the legal system.
CASE is developed
using a principled and structured design approach. A short description of this approach is followed by an analysis of the
learning task, the difficulties law students experience and the remedies proposed on the basis of both the task analysis and
the stated difficulties. This is followed by a description of architecture, functionality, platform and implementation of
CASE and a description of a session with CASE and future work.