When I was in my teenage years, I thought I had a passion for arguing. I loved the nature of arguments and how you had to maneuver your way through numerous feats of logic to win one. Like most teenagers who loved arguing, I figured that since I loved arguing so much, I should study law.
However, arguing is one thing, the practice of law is another, and passing your law exams is another. I discovered that law was much more than arguing. It involved you being armed with authorities in the form of statutes and cases.
This isn’t much of a problem in practice, since you can bring any book with you to court. In the exam hall, things are quite different. In the exam hall, when dealing with either problem questions or essay questions you’re required to reproduce authorities from your head, without any source material. Not having authorities in your answers to questions meant that you ended up with a C in the best case scenario and if you’re not so lucky, things could get really bad.
Like one of my lecturers used to say, the difference between a law student and a political science student was the use of authorities.
Knowing you need to memorise legal authorities for exams is one thing, actually memorising them is another thing.
The standard procedure is for you to read the legal authorities few days before exam, repeat them thoroughly to yourself and then in the exam hall you hope that your village people don’t remember you.
While this might work sometimes, it is hit or miss.
Thankfully, there’s a straightforward system you can use to easily memorise legal authorities. This system is called spaced repetition.
What is Spaced Repetition?
Remember back then in primary school when the teacher would make the whole class recite the multiplication table each day? Well, a couple of years later, most of us still remember a part of the multiplication table. In the worst case scenario, you’ll remember the multiples of two.
Spaced repetition is similar. Now, it would have been difficult if you tried memorising the multiplication table in one night. Thankfully, the memorisation was done over a long period of time, and as such, remembering it becomes effortless.
However, the method I want to teach you for memorising law cases and statutes doesn’t involve you reciting cases each day. With a tool called anki, you can make things more streamlined and organised.
What is Anki?
Anki is an open source spaced repetition software that makes memorising very easy. The tool makes use of flashcards and an algorithm to ensure that you place more focus on items that are more difficult to memorise.
Flashcards are esssentially cards where you write what you want to memorise in front, and then the answer is at the back. For instance, if you want to memorise the facts of the case of Carlill vs Carbolic Smokeball, you write the name of the case in front and the facts at the back. Then you look at the facts at the back and try to recall the name of the case and vice versa.
In the course of this post, I’ll go into more detail on how this works.
You can download the tool for any device here. For the version of the app on the App Store, you have to pay. However, since it’s open source, there are other free options you can use from the App Store.
Procedure for Memorising Legal Authorities
So, to learn how to use Anki, you can simply watch this video:
One Thing you should Note
A very important thing is to make sure you don’t let your workload pileup. This means that for this system to work, you should start using it months before exam. If you try to do this days before exam, it might not be as seamless as you want.
So, what you can do is to make sure that you go through cards everyday. If you do, you’ll do small work each day over a period of time. When it’s time for exam, everything would be seamless.
In conclusion, with this method, memorising legal authorities would be a piece of cake. Try it out and feel free to comment on your experience.
Author: Olanrewaju Olamide
Olamide is an avid reader who believes that no knowledge is wasted. If he is not surfing the internet, he would be doing something else to get more information, whatever that is.