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Problem Solving Workshop modules


The Problem Solving Workshop curriculum is designed to expose 1L students to a variety of legal roles. Through decision-making, legal writing, and teamwork, students learn how to think like lawyers and solve a client's problem.

Below are Harvard Law School's 2014 PSW modules. Alternative cases are noted as well.

Each teaching unit can stand alone as a cohesive experiential component for existing courses; educators can also combine the teaching units on this page to create semester-long case studies courses, or can mix and match cases on this page for an abridged survey of the different teaching units.

This page will be updated as additional problem solving case studies are added to the collection.

For more information about PSW, see related blog posts:


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Introduction to Problem Solving

These materials can be distributed at the beginning of a problem solving curriculum; these materials may precede an in-class discussion about the problem solving philosophy or may simply serve as supplementary and preparatory information for students.

Learning goals: understand lawyering best practices; gain foundational knowledge of the skills developed throughout the course.

How to Approach a Case Study in a Problem Solving Workshop

Problem Solving for Lawyers

How to Be a Good Team Member

Writing & Presenting Short Memoranda to Supervisors

Creating Collaborative Documents


Working for (and with) a Client

Learning goals: define the client; understand the client's goals and the lawyer's role; identify facts in legal problems; conduct a client interview; generate options; practice advising the client.

1. The Case of the Lead Toys

  • general counsel
  • four hours over two sessions

2. The Case of the Landlord's Dilemma

  • small firm or solo practice attorney
  • four hours over three days


The Case of the Federal Defender's Advice

  • defense attorney

The Case of the Rent-Paying Tenant

  • legal aid attorney
  • six hours over three sessions

The Case of the Anti-Bacterial Toys

  • general counsel
  • four hours over two sessions


Representing the Public

Learning goals: consider a lawyer's obligations and constituencies; exercise discretion in high-profile problems; draft advisory memoranda; practice presenting advice.

3. Balloon Boy

  • local prosecutor
  • two-and-a-half hours over three sessions

4. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

  • general counsel for federal agency
  • eight hours over four sessions


The Case of the Commissioner's Choice

  • state agency; general counsel and chief of staff
  • four to five hours over four sessions

The Case of the Section 8 Housing Vouchers

  • federal prosecutor
  • two hours over two sessions


Planning a Transaction and Resolving a Controversy

Learning goals: apply problem solving and lawyering skills to resolve a client's problem; gain exposure to litigation, mediation, and negotiation.

5. The Case of the Medical Stent

  • big firm attorney
  • four hours over three sessions

6. The Case of the Encumbered Employee

  • law firm attorney
  • five hours over three sessions


The Case of Cross-Deputization

  • tribal attorney
  • four hours over three sessions