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Avoiding Information Overload


The study of law is like eating an elephant.* The best way to do it is one bite at a time. But what do you do when there are too many elephants on your plate and it’s becoming overwhelming? Packing all elephant related analogies into the trunk (for now, at least), here are some solutions for dealing with information overload; a law student ailment as common as hand cramps.

If your lecturer keeps throwing cases, statutes and commentaries at you and you’re struggling to even understand what the subject is about, don’t be afraid to Google it. There’s enough material on the Internet to give you a start. For example, if you’re studying corporate law and are struggling with director’s duties, a simple search will reveal plenty of articles designed to help company directors understand their obligations. If you get a basic idea from these simplified sources, the more technical material might just start to make sense! If you’re still struggling, ask for help early.

You can also follow the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, future Solicitor). This is especially important if you have a rambling lecturer with a passion for quoting every judge of the High Court, Federal Court and House of Lords, whether necessary or not. Important principles can often be summarised into a couple of sentences, and this is a skill that’s really important to develop for both exams and your sanity. No one expects you to know every subtle nuance of every single case. If you’ve got 200 pages of readings to do before your tutorial this week, understanding the general “vibe” of the material will reduce your stress. Apologies for quoting The Castle.

Make sure that you’re taking good notes that will make sense both next week and at the end of semester. If your notes about larceny cases look something like “stealing fruit = bad”, they probably won’t be particularly helpful in the short or long term. Understanding last week’s work can be the best way to understand where the next week’s work fits in and where the subject is going. Understanding the context of what you’re learning will help you to avoid feeling like you’re being overloaded with random facts.

*No elephants were harmed in the making of this article.

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