The next time you encounter a super-confusing legal topic (if you’re an incoming 1L, this is likely to happen very soon after you start), ask yourself one question: Could I explain this concept to a reasonably intelligent 5-year-old? If the answer’s no, it’s time to simplify!
Isn’t the Law Really Complicated?
I can hear the protest now:
The law is really complicated! It’s SO hard and confusing. That’s why lawyers get paid so much!
Wrong. The big-bucks lawyers get paid a lot because they can take complicated, difficult concepts and explain them in simple, easy-to-understand language.
In other words, they could convince a small child that their position is correct! (This, in turn, generally convinces judges of the same thing.)
How Can You Apply This Idea?
The next time you encounter a concept that seems confusing, start asking yourself very simple questions.
Civ Pro is a great place to start, because it seems incredibly overwhelming in the beginning. Ultimately, however, it’s really all about one question:
Can this case be brought in federal court?
That’s it! From there, you start breaking it down:
- Is there subject matter jurisdiction?
- Is there personal jurisdiction?
And so on. Don’t believe me? Here’s part of my Civ Pro “outline.”
Seems pretty basic, right? I think a 5-year-old child could probably understand this. But, critically, so could I, and so could my professor, when I explained my answers on the exam.
So don’t over-complicate things! Even the most complex legal topics can be broken down into simple questions.
The next time you’re really confused, borrow a small child and have them listen to your explanation. If they basically get it, you know you’re on the right track!
— – —
Want more? Check out this post on simplifying things.
Are you on our mailing list? Sign up now and we’ll send you lots of great stuff, totally free!
Looking for some help to do your best in law school? Find out about our law school tutoring options.