Prints of this drawing available here for purchase!
I am playing with different ways to study for my Finals. I decided to try out flowcharts.
My hypothesis: the act of putting together a flowchart is itself one of the best ways to learn an area of law.
Especially with a rule-based doctrinal class like Evidence, I think this holds true.
I spent the weekend making about 16 different flowcharts. Each one was a challenge — it takes lots of flipping through pages, tracing through notes, going the rule book, and checking whether what you remember or guess is in fact true. It also forces you to go step by step through the logic of a law in a situation.
I am surprised by the poverty of law flowcharts online. I spent many Google Searches trying to find good Evidence outlines to be inspiration, but there is very little (publicly) available out there.
If I teach a law class, I will make flowchart-making a part of the course. It is fun to do — anything visual is a nice break from hardcore textbook finals studying — and easy with great software (I hacked into my free Xmind to customize it to the fonts and defaults I wanted..).
Granted, the flowchart above is not so much a flowchart as a beast (or octopus…) of all the possible Hearsay Exceptions. I liked the colorfulness of this one. Most of my other flowcharts were situational — I want to impeach a witness, what are my options? — that walk a practitioner through the ways to accomplish their outcome.
I am trying to think of other outcome-oriented ways to present law — so that it is not just a list of rules or decisions, but rather a strategic presentation of what you need to know in order to achieve your end goal.
More flowcharts to come…
This flow chart is incredible! I, too, enjoy making these, and have been working on one for impeachment. I took a break from it to work on hearsay (b/c the overlap between subjects started to get heavy, and i needed the review). This lead me to google hearsay flow charts and I was floored to see the ‘march 2013’ date. Any other charts, tables, summaries, etc seem to be pre-2011, if not from the 1990s. Side note on the lack of legal flow charts ‘out there’: I’m sure this applies to others, but I usually make my charts by pen & paper. E.g., last semester I had one that spanned 6 poster boards and encompassed all of my family law material. I’d like to share the fruits of my efforts; however, transferring that to a digital format would be daunting. Since I’m done with the class, the joy of sharing is now overshadowed by my current ‘to do’ mountain of work. Your work, here, has inspired me to maybe do it anyway. I intend to, at least in part, practice family law so a review certainly wouldn’t hurt!
Thanks for the effort & for sharing… the chart is incredibly concise, accurate, and well designed!
Thanks for the message! I’d love to see some of your flowcharts…
yes, DRP, please share these flow charts. i feel like flow charts are single-handedly the most effective way to learn certain areas of law. again, margaret, thank you. I feel that i failed the bar exam because of my performance on an evidence essay, so if you can keep the evidence flow charts coming, i would appreciate it.
[…] one on determining hearsay initially, and then one to see if the evidence can come in on a hearsay exception. These charts are a life […]
Are your Evidence prints laminated? If so I will purchase for myself. Thank you for you advice!