We recently sat down with Kipp Mueller, co-founder of SketchyLaw, an innovative visual review supplement for law school and bar exam students. Using hand drawn original video scenes, SketchyLaw aims to help students review and remember important legal concepts in a unique way. We spoke to Kipp about the story of SketchyLaw, how it works, and why he thinks law students will benefit from signing up.
Hi Kipp! Thank you for speaking with us today. To start with, what gave you the idea for SketchyLaw? What is your background?
Thanks for having me! SketchyLaw originated from SketchyMedical which has a strong following in the medical education community. My friend who started SketchyMedical often drew pictures in medical school to help him remember key concepts. For example, he drew a salmon to remember salmonella. His drawings became popular among his classmates so he saw an opportunity to start a visual review program.
I attended Columbia law, and am now an attorney in San Francisco. My friend and I realized that a visual review program would definitely be applicable in the legal education space. During my time at law school, trying to memorize bulk amounts of information via textbook was a horrible experience. It’s just unnatural to memorize so much textual information, and that’s why we thought a visual learning program would work well.
How does SketchyLaw work? What topics are covered?
We basically took the 20-25 most difficult and large looming concepts you have to figure out in a given course and did videos for them. SketchyLaw is the place to go when you encounter a tough concept in a class because we take that concept and break it down in a fun and more digestible way.
SketchyLaw is a supplement which means students can use it how and when they want. Our videos are organized by concepts so students can access the specific review video they need at that time. For example, if they are in a contracts class and are struggling with parole evidence, they can log on to SketchyLaw and watch the specific video on parole evidence. So there’s no real concrete order – it’s at the student’s discretion. We have recently added a key concepts review feature for each video as well as quizzes.
SketchyLaw is great for visual learners. What if you’re not a visual learner, would you still recommend it?
People who use us are saying our review method is having a positive impact on their studying as a supplement. Visual learning is more natural. Visual learners are not just a niche community of learners. Visual learning is a type of learning everyone uses. Evolutionarily, we evolved with visual learning, not with studying text. We’ve only had textual language for 10,000 years or so. So in many ways, everyone is a visual learner.
We here at SketchyLaw are believers in multimodal learning. In other words, the more ways you learn something, the better. We truly believe that everyone can benefit from using SketchyLaw, even if they don’t identify as a visual learner. Studies have found that there is an incredible upper limit for our capacity of visual memory storage compared to our capacity for text storage. For example, do you remember all the digits in your credit card number?
Who is SketchyLaw more for, the law school student or the bar exam student?
Our users are actually pretty evenly split between bar exam and law school users. For bar exam users, we offer a great unique way to review. For law school users, we offer a more understandable way to learn and review material. We have many 1st year law students using our program which makes sense to us: that first year is intimidating and every resource you turn to is in a different language, so we offer students a universally understandable visual supplement.
The fact that we offer students a macro perspective on a course attracts both bar exam and law school students, especially first years. First years often get caught up in details when their exams are all about the general concepts, not how well you can memorize a statute. Law school exams are about showing you understand the concept of accomplice liability, for example, and testing if you can tell when an example fits those principles.
What’s next for SketchyLaw? What is your ultimate goal for it?
Right now, we are rounding out our bar specific curriculum like the MBE topics. We are considering creating videos for the state supplements to the bar exam. But honestly, we are wholly focused on what our customers want next. Our students come first and we take their suggestions seriously. For that reason, our options for expanding are always open and we get suggestions from our users all the time.
How can students start using SketchyLaw?
SketchyLaw is structured as a “freemium” program, meaning we have several videos you can access for free and if you pay a small fee, you get access to the full curriculum. Our goals are to be student friendly, cheap, and easy to use. We don’t try to nickel and dime our students; we just have one simple price. At the end of the day, the program was made by law students, for law students.
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