Hard Cases


In this course, whose name is a tribute to Ronald Dworkin, one of the greatest legal theorists of the twentieth century, students will be confronted with the initial narrative of one or more difficult cases - real situations that challenge the existing law, escaping from its canons and calling for creativity, the ability to think the law and the construction of innovative solutions. Such cases will be presented by leading personalities, leading attorneys or the judiciary, who will bring us some of their practical experience. This initial component will take the form of a challenge, which the students, organized in teams, will be invited to face, trying to apply knowledge acquired throughout the course in search of the most satisfactory answers. At the end of the semester, students are expected to have developed the ability to work legally, either individually and autonomously or in teams, to combine knowledge acquired in a multiplicity of legal and non-legal disciplines, to carry out legal research and to think critically about law in order to develop innovative solutions that provide satisfactory answers to the new challenges of the 21st century.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Margarida Lima Rego


Weekly - 1.5

Total - 18

Teaching language



Available soon


Ronald Dworkin - "Hard cases" (1975) 88 Harv. L. Rev. 1057-1109; and "Hard cases" in Taking Rights Seriously, Harvard Univ. Press 1977, Chapter 4, pp. 81-130.

The relevant bibliography for the analysis of the difficult cases to be explored in each edition of this course will be provided at the beginning of the semester, as it varies according to the choice of cases.

Teaching method

In this course, the team-based learning ledagogical teaching method will be applied.

Evaluation method

Students will be assessed at the end of the semester for the oral and written presentation of their work. A passing grade allows them to be excused from the final exam.

Subject matter

This course is not organized on a regular weekly basis throughout the semester. There will be a first phase of face-to-face sessions at the beginning of the semester, during which the personality or personalities selected for this purpose will present one or more difficult cases to the class. The students will then be organized into teams, followed by a phase of autonomous work under the guidance of the professor and her team. In the middle of the semester, there will be an intermediate face-to-face session to analyze and discuss the difficulties and the progress of the various student teams. At the end of the semester, the course will conclude with a few sessions during which the teams will present their results to the personality or personalities in question.


Programs where the course is taught: