One particular example with a solution comes from the landmark education program. This system provides students with an in-depth look at some of the major issues that may arise in the course of law practice. One particular lesson focuses on dividing a claim among three plaintiffs when a dividing line is present. Students learn how to determine if a boundary needs to be changed in order to allow all claims into the court. They also learn how to negotiate a settlement in a case where the plaintiff’s injury has been ruled inadmissible due to a technicality.
Another set of examples with solutions can be found in the Review of American Law, Sixth Edition by John J. Diener. This text includes an example showing how to divide a set of cases that involve real property. The problem is one that involves an owner, a tenant, and two other owners who own portions of a single-family home. The dispute revolves around whether or not the tenant should be allowed to rent the property out to a family member at a cost that covers the cost of all rents. The solution provided by the example focuses on whether or not a change in the property law to allow rent-to-own properties is warranted. It is obvious that if the tenant were allowed to rent the property out, there would be interference by a third party, which would have a detrimental effect on the balance of the owners’ stake in the home.
A relational calculus example with solutions also comes from the work of David Norton and Kevin Vallier. These professionals identify four key factors that drive crime rates. These factors are related to neighborhood stability, the rate of violent crimes, the degree of residential turnover, and the availability of jobs. By comparing the rate of crime in various neighborhoods, they then identify a negative correlation between these factors and residential mobility.
In the example with the solution, the students find that there is a strong negative correlation between the rates of residential turnover and the rate of violent crimes. This means that areas where there are more turnover have lower overall crime rates. However, the relationship is weak when the focus is on crimes against property. Crime rates against property are much lower in those areas than against people. Thus, it appears that the negative correlation is caused by the fact that there are fewer crimes that fall under this category.
One of the most important lessons to learn from these examples is that students need to take into account not only what the outcomes might be for each outcome but what the expected future outcomes might be as well. In the relational calculus example, the students assume that the existing laws of physics will continue to apply. They then derive a solution involving the law of demand and competition. They conclude that if the existing laws do not change, then crime will continue to increase in the neighborhood and the cost of living will continue to rise.
In order to avoid making mistakes like the one in the relational example, students should spend time thinking about how changes in society and in the law might impact their calculations. The example also shows that even those who seem to have strong arguments for accepting a given solution may actually be correct in part because they assume that crime rates in the neighborhood will continue to remain constant. If the laws change, they may find that they were wrong.
Relational problems and solutions are necessary to teach students how to think critically about societal problems. They will also serve as good learning tools if they are used correctly. As a result, students should spend a considerable amount of time practicing using these problems and getting good results. Doing so will make them far better prepared for the many problems that they will face in the future. Indeed, by being prepared for all of society’s problems, students become more able to solve them.