Sketchy Law is an online bar study tool that uses drawings, word association, and pictures, as well as audio lectures to teach you substantive law. Sketchy Law sent us a free trial to play around with, but we aren’t affiliated with the company, so here’s our unbiased review:
So, how does Sketchy Law work? First of all, there is a database of topic areas, separated by subject, and once you choose which topic you’d like to review, a video opens up where you watch a sketch unfold step by step. First, it gets drawn out, then colored in and all the while it’s being explained out loud.
So, what sorts of things do they draw? For example, there might be a sketch of a pay phone off the hook to show an “unavailable” declarant. Or, you might watch a scene develop about a bratty privileged child to show “privilege.” At the end of each module, you’re left with a picture that fits together to help you remember the rules.
What do I like about Sketchy Law?
First of all, I think this is a really unique approach, and it’s super creative! I’ve done similar sorts of word association visual imagery stories with some of my law students to help them remember substantive rules and attack plans, and it has worked out really well. I think this approach could function similarly well for bar students.
Who would benefit from learning law through these sketches?
I’ve found that the students who respond the best to this sort of approach are those with vivid imagination or students who think in a visual way. If you’re the sort of person who color codes your notes, or, if something like seeing a phone off the hook would make you remember “unavailable” better than simply drilling the word “unavailable,” then you might be a good candidate for this kind of study.
I’ve also worked with students whose visual impairments don’t allow them to read through outlines to study. I’ve found that turning the law into stories and pictures with these students is particularly helpful. Thus, if you’re getting accommodations for vision issues, even if you find the sketches a little blurry (or even if you can’t see them at all), I think you could still benefit by hearing the clever word associations and explanations so you can visualize the pictures yourself.
What features look helpful?
There are progress bars that fill up to tell you (a) how much of a particular subject you’ve reviewed, and (b) how much you’ve reviewed out of the total list of available videos.
If you’re in a rush, no problem! There are options to watch each video in 1.5x or 2.0 speed. I would recommend listening to the video at regular speed first to make sure you get everything, and then using the quicker speeds if you need to review again later.
Need to review a video, but don’t want to watch the whole thing over again or skip around with fast forward? No problem. There are screen captures of each final sketch that you can open and check out at your own speed. Each item in the picture has a red dot you can hover over to get a pop-up of the term from the video that goes along with each drawing.
I’m not a fan of spending tons of time watching videos for bar review, but the Sketchy Law videos are nice and short. The ones I reviewed were between 5 and 15 minutes (on regular speed).
Anything else to consider?
As with any unique type of learning tool, this strategy may not prove effective for everyone. That said, the methods seem pretty sound. I think creative stories and pictures are excellent memorization tools for a lot of people. I imagine that there will be students out there who see Sketchy Law and think, “This is amazing. Where was this when I was in law school!?” On the other hand, I could see other students thinking that some sketches don’t have cohesive enough drawings, that the stories are random, too detailed, or hard to remember, or that the word-associations seem far-fetched. But hey, everyone’s different!
When I was watching the Sketchy Law video on Hearsay yesterday, I remember thinking during one portion, “Okay, there is definitely quite a bit of creative license they’re taking on this part, this seems a little out there. I’m not sure this is going to work…” But you know what, when I went back today and tried to remember the lesson from 24 hours ago, the weirdness is the part that stuck with me the most. Granted, I already knew the law, but the weirder the word-associations (at least for me), the better! I had no trouble remembering those parts of the sketches.
This is a relatively new product, and on the Sketchy Law website, it does not appear that there are videos for each and every topic or subject yet. If you have a particular problem area you’d like to focus on, you may want to inquire about exactly what topics are available before you purchase.
Have you used Sketchy Law or other similar learning tools? Tells us about it in the comments!
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