Business Law


The role of many classes is not only to provide you with the opportunity to gain knowledge about a particular subject, but to help you learn to apply that knowledge.  And, since each field has its own way of applying knowledge, a purpose of the class is also to help you learn to think like the people do in that field.  In a biology class, you learn something about biology, but you also learn how to think like a biologist.

This is a law class, and that means that you can learn something about the law, but also that you can learn something about how to think like a lawyer.    According to an article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, thinking like a lawyer means “thinking with care and precision, reading and speaking with attention to nuance and detail. It means paying attention to language, but also understanding that words can have myriad meanings and can often be manipulated. It thus also means paying attention to context and contingency.”

There is a both a science and an art to thinking like a lawyer, but the first skill set that you have to develop is critical thinking.  And critical thinking is a science, which means that anyone can master it, if they will take the time to learn how.

In their book Think Critically, Facione and Gittens offer a simple mnemonic device that can help you think critically.  They advocate the IDEA model:

Identify the problem and set priorities

Deepen understanding and gather relevant information

Enumerate options and anticipate consequences

Assess the situation and make a preliminary decision

The IDEA model is actually a great way to think critically about the law.  This exercise will provide a scenario which presents legal problems, use the IDEA model to analyze it.  Your task will be to use the IDEA model to analyze the scenario your own.



New Mexico High School is a public high school.  Dyson Stevens, a senior at the high school, is point guard for the basketball team; Pauline Williams is a cheerleader.  Last year, Pauline called the police, and claimed that she had been sexually assaulted by Dyson.  She told the police that she and Stevens were at the same party, but not together.  He cornered her in the bathroom, groped her, and began ripping her clothes off when someone came into the bathroom; Dyson fled.  Dyson denied the charge, and said that they were initiating consensual sexual contact when they were interrupted.  No charges were brought against Dyson.

A problem arose during the first basketball game of the season this year.  Dyson had been fouled, and was at the free throw line.  As was the custom, the cheerleaders were yelling him on, except for Pauline.  She stepped back from the rest of the cheerleaders, turned her back to the court, and crossed her arms.  Dyson took his shots, making the first one and missing the second.

Immediately afterwards, the basketball coach talked with the cheerleading coach, who then talked with Pauline.  Pauline said that she was not going to cheer for someone who had tried to rape her.  The coach said that she had to cheer for all of the players.

A few minutes later, Dyson was again fouled, the scene described above repeated itself; while Dyson took his free throw shots, Pauline stepped back from the rest of the cheerleaders, turned her back to the court, and crossed her arms.

Again, the cheerleading coach, this time joined by the high school principal, talked with Pauline.  Again, she said that was not going to cheer for someone who tried to rape her.  Again, the coach said that she had to cheer for all of the players.  The principal then told her that unless she was going to cheer for all the players, including Dyson, she had no place on the cheerleading squad.  She repeated that she would not cheer for Dyson.  The coach then told her that she was cut from the team.

Pauline has now gone to meet with some lawyers, asking whether she can be cut from the high school cheerleading squad for refusing to cheer under the circumstance.

Your task is to work your way through the IDEA model.  As this is not an exercise in legal research, I am not expecting you to conduct your own independent legal research.  In other words, the cases I have attached provide the legal precedent or law that should be used in your analysis. As you read these materials, please keep in mind that the entire cases have not been provided rather a substantially edited version so that you have less reading.

To complete this assignment, please prepare a written analysis which should be set up using the following format and include the appropriate discussion.

  1. Identify the legal issue (This is the I– Identify in the IDEA Model) 5 points
  2. Identify both sides of the legal issue i.e. each and every legal issue is seen/argued differently depending on what side of the issue you are on. (This corresponds with the D-Deepen Understanding in the IDEA Model) 12 points

3.Analyze both sides of the issue based on the legal precedent provided; please cite the cases you used in the analysis.[2] (This corresponds with the E-Enumerate options section of the IDEA Model)                                                          12 points

  1. Conclude the discussion with providing what you believe the outcome of the situation should be (This corresponds with the A-Assess the situation and make a preliminary decision section of the IDEA Model) 5 points
  2. Writing and presentation of analysis 6 points                                                                              Total Points        40 points

[1]This case was written and developed by Professor Matt Holt. It is being used in this class with permission and used as tool to evaluate critical thinking.

[2] Cite the cases as follows: Tinker et al v. Des Moines Independent Community School District et al; 393 U.S. 503 (1969); Hazelwood School District et al v. Kuhlmeier et al; 484 U.S. 260 (1988); Sissy Littlefield et al v. Forney Independent School District et al; 268 F.3d 275 (5th Cir. 2001).