Neha Chaturvedi


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Course Code - Course Title - Legal methods

Theory – 60% Practice – 20% Project – 20% Credits - 4



Law curricula the world over feature in their initial year or semester an introductory course. They are known by many names – “Introduction to Law”, “Legal Method”, “Legal Methods”, “Law 101”, “The Methods and the Processes of Law”, and so on. Most of these names are comprehensible easily, but why “legal method”? Or to be specific, why “method” as opposed to “methods”?

To appreciate this, think of “scientific method”. Certainly, this term does not imply all scientists follow one single method. There is very little in common between the physicist studying the effects of high-speed particle collisions in a particle accelerator; the chemist passing complex mixtures through a chromatograph; or the biologist injecting enzymes into a rat’s spinal cord. And yet these and other methods used by scientists share certain commonalities. All scientific endeavours today involve at some level or the other description, observation and, above all, seeking mechanical explanations of natural phenomena.


Course Objective

The objective of any law degree or diploma programme is to enable students to think like lawyers. This would necessarily include two distinct skillsets. The first is a familiarity with the tools, techniques and jargon of the legal world. And the second is a capacity to understand law in its larger context. Neither skillset can be picked up in one day, or through one single course. Students acquire them by osmosis, as it were, throughout their period of instruction and even beyond.


However, this process of learning by osmosis is greatly facilitated if students are imparted a certain basic level of background knowledge and equipment. This is what the present course seeks to achieve. It seeks to familiarise students with the study and practice of law to the extent that they will be able to acquire for themselves the necessary skills, techniques and perceptions as and when they are required. Perhaps this is best expressed through an analogy. If one’s association with the world of law can be likened to a journey, then surely the skill sets mentioned above (i.e. techniques and perceptions) can be compared to maps outlining different routes. What we seek to impart through this course are not maps so much as a key to reading maps. We discuss the various generic components of maps, what they mean, and how to harness each to be useful for one’s own personal journey. Consequently, when a student encounters a new map (i.e. a new technique or perception) depicting completely unfamiliar terrain, she should be able to break down the map into its constitutive elements, address each such element on its terms, and thereby acquire mastery over not only the map but also the terrain it covers.

In the light of the foregoing, let us examine what exactly we seek to impart through this course. We may split this into several individual components.

Firstly, the course would teach the students the importance of critical thinking.

Secondly, a background to the origins, development, nature and functions of the law.

Thirdly, (and allied to the first), a basic familiarity with the core concepts of the law, including:

sources of law – legislation, judicial pronouncements, customs; the structure of legal institutions – legislatures, hierarchy of courts etc

Fourthly, a clarity in regard to legal reasoning, thinking and analysis

Fifthly, exposure to the techniques, tools and usages of legal research. This includes using a law library, searching for precedents, internet resources etc., and also conventions of citation.

Sixthly, some exposure to legal language and writing.


This raises a further question: if the law is all about authoritative pronouncements, then what is left for us lawyers to do when everything is settled anyway? But that is just it – authorities may purport to be authoritative, but they are not always as authoritative as they seem. This may sound confusing, but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it as you go along. And I must remind you to be always thankful for this: the fact that authorities can be challenged is the main reason why lawyers earn so much money! For it takes skill to mount such a challenge, and that’s where one’s competence as a lawyer comes in. There exist many methods of questioning the validity of authorities. We may seek to have it invalidated by invoking a larger authority; for example, we may challenge the validity of a statute on grounds that it is inconsistent with the Constitution. Then we could say that the authority is fine as far as it goes, but it does not really apply to the case we are dealing with. Or else we could claim that it was intended to be interpreted in a particular manner only, which makes it inapplicable to us.


In short, that is what the legal profession is about. It is about challenging authorities when necessary and, equally, fending off such challenges when the authorities are in your favour. Even when you are engaged in back-room activities like drafting plaints or agreements, you can succeed only if you keep in mind the relevant authorities and how they apply to what you are doing. This course is also centered around such authorities. It is not intended to be exhaustive in nature; you’ll need a full five years of law school, and then the rest of your professional life, to gather an exhaustive understanding of what law is and how it works. For now, we seek to only acquaint you with the fundamentals. Something in the nature of an orientation course, so that you are at least equipped with a basic familiarity with the structures and functions of law, on the basis of which you may commence your study of legal subjects.




       On completion of the course on Legal Methods, learners will be able to :


  1. Understand the jurisprudential aspects of law, interpret and apply laws in real court room settings.
  2. Identify the manifestation of injustice in its various forms prevalent in the society and offer critical solutions to the same.
  3. Develop legal and logical reasoning skills , draw analogies and appreciate the kinds of fallacies. 
  4. Pinpoint the kinds of legal systems applicable to various countries of the globe.
  5. Develop proficiency in the tools , techniques and methodologies of legal research.


            PROGRAM OUTCOMES : 


  1. Develop robust advocacy and communication skills for the purpose of bolstering the Indian Legal System.
  2. Assist the community in order to ensure universal access to justice.
  3. Critically deliberate upon, analyse and elucidate the remedial measures for countless ingrained legal and societal problems.
  4. Undertake a comparative analysis of various legal systems prevalent across the globe for the purpose of strengthening our legal system , institutions and legal machinery.
  5. Diligent display of leadership qualities amongst the legal fraternity as well as the 

ever changing society.

  1. Commercial awareness and due cognizance of new age dilemmas including but not limited to social, political, cultural, technological and economical frameworks.
  2. Comprehend the basic legal principles, concepts and nuances to apply the same in resolving disputes.
  3. Active participation in community affairs and establishing potent means of social change.
  4. Streamline the legal discipline and integrate the social and legal research skills.
  5.  Thorough acquaintance with online legal databases and keeping pace with the digital revolution in the legal landscape.
  6.  Collaboration with civil society for the purpose of addressing legal challenges.
  7. Questioning, deliberating the legality and constitutionality of legislative and administrative measures.



Module Description


Module I

  1. What is Law – Kinds of Law (Based on justice or control)
  2. Purpose, Functions and Objects of Law – Advantage & Disadvantages of Law
  3. Law-Morality-Ethics
  4. Concept of Law & Justice –Social, Economic and Political Justice
  5. Law and Legitimacy
  6. Sources of Law
  7. Municipal (Constitution, Legislations, Precedents & Custom)
  8. Sources of Law- International Law (Treaties, Charters & Conventions)


Module II


  1. Using Law Library
  2. Identifying the Primary Sources of Law –Constitution/Statutes/Judicial Decisions
  3. Studying law reports, Digest and Journals –Importance of head notes in a judgement and its validity
  4. Commentaries and its contribution to law learning
  5. E-sources Use of Westlaw; Heinonline; LexisNexis; Taxmann; Manupatra as a source of authority – Articles and Cases on electronic mode
  6. Identifying the secondary source of law (utilising foreign law, judgments and articles and its relevance, significance and applicability to Indian law
  7. Significance of Copyright Law and protection of authors contribution (Indian and International law)


Module III


Legal Research

  1. Meaning of Legal Research
  2. Objectives of Legal Research
  3. Doctrinal and Non-Doctrinal/Empirical Research
  4. Types of Legal Research -  Descriptive & Exploratory Studies – Explanatory – Analytical and Critical – Historical and Comparative Studies
  5. Selection of a research topic –consideration or factor for selection
  6. Research Design –Component of the RD:
  7. Title of the research – Introduction and nature of the research problem – Hypothesis or research questions – Literature review – Objectives of the study-Methodology-Scope and limitation of the research- Significance and contribution – Contents/Chapters –Tables & Bibliography
  8. Non Doctrinal Research-Data Collection – Interview & Questionnaire method – Sampling techniques –Advantages & Disadvantages
  9. Techniques & methods of Project & Report Writing – Analysis


Module IV


  1. Legal Systems- Common and Civil Law System
  2. Administration of Justice –Public and Private Law and Justice Administration-Criminal Justice System- Civil Justice Administration
  3. Adversarial and Inquisitorial Justice system, Substantive, procedural and adjective law,

 Hierarchy of Courts

  1. Legal institutions and Processes-Role of Judges, Prosecutors (Criminal Justice System) and Lawyers & Impact on the society
  2. Introduction to Constitution
  3. Constitutional Law as a Grund norm- Framing of Indian Constitution and its significance in enshrining the principle of welfare state
  4. Significance of the Preamble of the Constitution, Fundamental Rights & Duties –Concept of Equality, Liberty and Justice
  5. Constitutionality of the Statutes
  6. Concept of Constitution-Legislature, Executive and Judiciary –Its Role and Importance,

 Rule of law – Fundamental of democracy

  1. Independence of Judiciary –Judicial activism and restraint – Growth of Social Action Litigation/ Public Interest Litigation
  2. Writ Remedies


Module V


  1. Interpretation of Statutes
  2. Interpretation of Statutes-Liberal, Golden, Purposive, Liberal and Strict Interpretation –Mischief Rule – Primary & Secondary Sources of Interpretation
  3. Doctrine & Scope of Decisis –Doctrine of Precedent & Overruling –per incuriam
  4. Finding a Ratio decidendi and Obiter Dictum in a case –Goodhart and Wambaugh’s Method
  5. Legal Reasoning and Writing 
  6. Legal reasoning – Syllogism, major premise, minor premise, etc
  7. Shortcomings in legal reasoning - Tautology, fallacy- types of fallacy
  8. Structure and components of legal writing - Case analysis, Research report, etc
  9. Citations and References , Plagiarism


 Suggested Books:


1.Legal Method, Reasoning and Research Methodology (by K. L. Bhatia and S.C. Srivastava).

  1. Legal Method, Dr. GP Tripathi, 1st Edition, 2016 ; Central Law Publication.
  2. Legal Method, Dr. S.R. Myneni , Allahabad Law Agency.
  3. Textbooks on Legal Methods, Legal Systems and Research, Prof. Tushar Kanti Saha, 2nd Edition,2016. 

Our Main Teachers

Neha Chaturvedi

Assistant Professor