Goal 4: Synthesis
In legal analysis synthesis is understood as a process of binding together various rules.
Synthesis is often required to derive rules. In this sense, synthesis is the binding together of various authorities (e.g., statutes, cases interpreting a statute, or cases developing the common law) into a whole description that states a rule of law or expression of legal policy. This form of synthesis focuses on the reasoning and facts that individual cases have in common as controlled by the language or the governing statute if there is one. Legal reasoning finds the rules, synthesizes (brings the rules together), and articulates the collective meaning that may not be apparent from the holdings of a number of individual cases decided by the courts on a particular topic. See the classroom discussion of Arcane v. People.
When engaging in this form of synthesis, it is helpful to understand several basic legal concepts, for which we have also developed web-based tutorials, including:
- Reading and understanding judicial opinions;
- Hierarchy of authorities; and
- Judicial systems
Another form of synthesis involves understanding how various rules fit together to form a statement of the general or “black letter law in an area of legal doctrine.
The ability to synthesize is a crucial part of legal analysis in American law.