Illustrated Law is what would happen if your favorite textbooks and your favorite sources of case briefs and summaries had a baby. All of the good stuff, none of the bad.
What Spurred Its Creation? Well...
David came to law school and was immediately blown away by how inefficiently and ineffectively so many smart people approach educating.
In sharp contrast to many research findings by the Institute of Educational Sciences
The classes had over 100 people, limiting how many people were asked penetrating questions
The readings came from $100-$200 textbooks and each class assignment required 2 to 6 hours of reading
The textbooks were entirely devoid of images, diagrams, or other helpful visual explainers
The professors not only didn't use mediums like handouts or PowerPoint to convey information, they didn't even use the chalkboard
The entirety of each student's grade was based on a single comprehensive end-of-semester exam that was between 3- and 24-hours long
Students were graded not only on our personal performance (did we understand the law and could we apply it appropriately) as we should've been, but also on our peers' performances (due to the mandatory grading curve), and on the professors' preferences (because they have to somehow sort us into a certain number of A's, A-'s, B+'s, B's, B-'s, etc. due to the curve)
There were no formative assessments during the semester to indicate what students didn't know or what they should study more
Material wasn't spaced out over time and revisited to reinforce our memories or understanding
But the more pressing issue that sparked Illustrated Law was that after reading 60 different cases for a single class, it becomes difficult to remember the names, facts, reasoning, and holding of each one. In the fall of 2016, David lamented that there wasn't a graphic novel based on the real cases. It'd be more engaging to read, and the combination of images with text would make it much easier to remember. When high-quality material is easier to read and remember, it helps with exam performance. And in law school, where grades are king, helping others do well on exams would also help them land the jobs they want.
In the fall of 2017, David asked Dan, whom he always saw sketching in class, if he'd be willing to illustrate a new type of law book. Dan immediately said yes, and two months later we published Torts Concepts and Criminal Procedure: Investigation and Justice. They aren't graphic novels. They're better.
Two guys. One vision. What could go wrong? If you want to hear more about our story, our business experiences, and why I believe many professors are sandbagging it when it comes to educating students, check out this site's blog. Ready to buy a book? Click here.
What We Believe
In no particular order:
Teaching should be based on what empirical science indicates leads to learning most efficiently
Learning shouldn't be painful or dreaded or significantly more difficult than it needs to be
Sunlight is a heckuva disinfectant, so we will shine a light on outdated approaches to education in law school in hopes of making schools more accountable
Starting a successful business is hard. We'll document our struggles, surprises, and triumphs so aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from our mistakes
Fixing legal education at its source (law school) is better than having law firms and nonprofits try to address the symptoms at work
Current study aids aren't revolutionizing legal education; they're complicit in perpetuating the current system. They don't improve learning or help students learn to think like a lawyer; they merely take your money in exchanged for paraphrased cases so students can skim by under the current regime
Students should have to pay thousands of dollars over three years for unilluminating textbooks that rely almost exclusively on public domain (i.e. free use) material
If you make learning the law easier, it will take less time
If it takes less time, professors can focus more on teaching actual real-life lawyering skills
If professors teach emphasize more lawyering skills, graduates will enter the workforce at a stage that trims their learning curve at work by at least a year. This will save their workplace time and money otherwise spent on training new hires.
Saving money on training will be great for society because it disproportionately benefits nonprofits and governmental agencies who don't have the same funds and training resources as big law firms
The Tesla Approach
We're copying Tesla's update model. They make improvements to their vehicles as the technology advances, rather than only releasing updates annually like Ford or GM (e.g., "Come buy the new 2018 F-150!").
We aren't going to only publish updates and improvements annually or every several years like traditional publishers. Our books will feature new improvements (new content, improved read-ability, more illustrations, etc.) multiple times every year.
It doesn't make sense to withhold improvements when the goal is to help people learn better.