Thoughts on the Illustrated Law Books

By: David (business)

I'm going to use the new convention you see above, where I put the general topic in parentheses. This post will largely focus on business or the product. Others will focus on legal stuff. And still others will be "Other" and may include general insights and thoughts I have. 

Illustrated Law (otherwise called "IL") is the name of our business and comes from the original name for our books. The books are, in essence, illustrated casebooks. But there are important features that set them apart from both textbooks and outlines/hornbooks/study guides currently on the market, and each feature is based on the latest research in cognitive science. Some of those features include:

1) Our text is nearly verbatim. While some words and sentences are removed for the sake of brevity (see #2 below), and therefore I may modify a word to make the sentence make sense, I don't make any alterations that change the meaning of the sentences. Unlike outlines/summaries/study guides, which rely on paraphrasing and are therefore the subjective interpretation of the court opinion by some individual, Illustrated Law uses the actual words of the opinions. This makes it more useful for law students, because they can quote from the books when making comments in class or in a paper, and they can quickly search the original opinions to see where paragraphs in IL fit into the original material.

2) More dicta is removed from the cases than what is found in most textbooks, but the content is not so sparse that context is lacking. Nor is it so sparse that the case is difficult to understand without some recent familiarity, as is the case with most outlines. A layperson could read IL and understand the case just as well as a law student. On the other end, many study guides try too hard to be everything to everybody by trying to cover every conceivable angle of every case and providing information overload. As any law student knows, you just need to understand the key elements to do well in class and get a good job. The benefit of our approach is that the slimmed-down opinions save you time because you don't have to read for an hour or more to get the same information our books convey in 10 minutes. This is especially notable given that the human capacity for understanding and remembering information is limited to a far greater extent than the density of typical textbooks or sparsity of typical outlines would suggest.

3) There are illustrations. The drawings don't explain the law, but they do provide a visual cue to readers that helps with memory retrieval. It also allows them to quickly recall the facts of the case when thumbing through the book without having to re-read the facts. 

4) There are questions with answers and explanations. Outlines and case summaries rarely have practice questions, and textbooks usually include hundreds of rhetorical questions without answers in their "notes" sections. Professors rarely offer quizzes or practices questions. This means students aren't able to test themselves or know what they don't know. IL includes succinct, practical questions aimed at providing the reader with key insights that are actually useful and fact-based, as opposed to rhetorical questions which ask for the readers' opinions. 

5) The price is highly competitive. If you envision a chart where the x-axis spans from cheapest on the left to most expensive on the right, and the y-axis goes from lowest quality on the bottom and highest quality at the top, we'd be in the top-left, high-quality, below average price quadrant. Our current focus is on market penetration and providing exceptional value. 

6) Key takeaways are included in the book to ensure readers understand what they are supposed to learn from the court opinion.

7) Over time, we will continue iterating on the books, including more questions with answers, more summaries and rules, more empirical data, and more context. And, of course, all of it will be presented in the concise manner readers expect from IL.