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(Mind)Mapping your way through law school

Kanye West

source // giphy

Black print. Size 8. Times New Roman. Eyes straining. Hunched back. Clock ticking.

Behold: the law student in their natural habitat.

Or so you have been told.

One of the most dangerous stereotypes of law students is this arduous image. You know what I mean: the daily grind of study and classes; the bulging veins as a side effect of understanding legislation; and the inadequate sleep as you robotically pen constitutional law notes.

Near the end-of-semester exams, you might (tragically) find that your grasp of the material doesn't measure up against the amount of time spent struggling to get there. Your notes are elaborate and detailed but your conceptual understanding is, well, inadequate.

But what if I told you that you can fit everything about an intricate, complex legal issue on one page?

Introducing the mindmap.

I originally came across the concept from Learning Fundamentals, after trying to find creative ways to study. The author of the blog, Jane Genovese, is a Law/Psychology graduate from Murdoch University with astounding insight into how we learn law. Aside from her invaluable reflections on her failures, she introduces a new form of creative learning.

The concept of a mindmap works like this:

Pick up those coloured pens,

some white paper,

and let your imagination soar.

And I did exactly that.

Below is the iconic tortious legal issue of negligence, illustrated:

illustration of Negligence on a white board

The system I have gone with is:

  1. Legal issue in the centre – ‘Negligence’

  2. Diagram of case facts (with arrows if needed) – ‘Snail in a bottle’ drawing

  3. Highlight case names – ‘Donoghue and Stevenson’ in green

  4. Using a variety of different colours to express concepts - Only writing keywords, no more, forces you to emphasise the most important words.

With just three glances, I had the diagram memorised. Even the most complex issues in law can be broken down into colours, diagrams, and a few scattered words. All the more incentive to mix up your study routine.

Want to give mind maps a try? Have sworn by them for eons? Either way, we would love to see them; tell us about your creative endeavours in the comments below.

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