This Article will address the positive impact of using the decision tree model in four parts. Part I will provide a historical overview of the evolution of legal education and the profession’s call for more experiential education, both generally and specifically, through clinical training and the use of technology. This Section will provide context and argue that the use of decision trees in the clinical setting is the natural culmination of the legal academy’s goals of teaching analytical skills, preparing graduates for practice, and incorporating new technology into the practice of law.
Part II will describe the legal malpractice problem in the United States and furnish the statistical data that serves as a call to arms against the epidemic of preventable malpractice. This Section focuses on the major categories of malpractice claims by area of practice, firm size, disposition of claims, types of alleged error, defense expenses paid, indemnity dollars paid to claimant, and time interval from date of error to closing of claim file. The Section shows how the decision tree technology can reduce professional error and, consequently, exposure to professional liability.
Part III will examine the other uses and benefits of the decision tree in clinical pedagogy and show how the use of a decision tree can indoctrinate students in the law, assist in the supervision of students, improve risk management, promote access to justice, foster judicial economy, and help reclaim the image of lawyers as respected professionals.
Part IV will highlight the steps in the design and construction of a specialized decision tree, illustrating the functionality of the system. It will provide an example of the hands-on approach of the decision tree that allows users to visualize the questions, potential responses, and citations of authority in a logical sequence.