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Ignorance of the Law… ...

ignorance of the law is not an excuse. that simply means every citizen must know one thing or the other about the law governing the Nation. you’re planning to study law? You want to know how you can start studying the law now?

You can read all the law books you want and if you’re smart enough to remember what you read, some of the information will stick like gum on the bottom of your shoe. But this is no way to prepare for law school.

Read good books. The best way to prepare for law school is to sharpen your language skills by reading fiction, nonfiction, newspapers, and news magazines. The law is a language system to itself. It uses not only jargon or highly specialized vocabulary or lexicon of Latin words, it is also a language system that has a different way of using words with common meaning. For instance, the word “motion” means movement. But in court procedure, a motion is a request for a specifc action from a court. Thus, a motion to re-set means that the lawyer who filed it is asking the court to hear a matter on some later date. Common words have different meanings. Words can stand for concepts.

The literacy skills of the younger generation are underdeveloped because they watch too much TV and play too many video games. Reading stretches the brain’s critical thinking capacity. Reading good literature gives the brain the ability to present thoughts logically and with clarity. Read all the time.

In my country where the Bar examinations are essay-type questions, the ability to string words together to express a coherent thought is a crucial skill. Reading gives you this skill.

2. Do cross-word puzzles. This helps you focus on verbal cues and verbal clues so you can guess the word or phrase that is appropriate. This helps make your brain supple. You will develop the ability to look at words, manipulate them, and derive many different yet nuanced meanings.

Crossword puzzles increase your vocabulary. It helps you realize that words are placeholders for thoughts and that words may have dictionary meanings (denotations) but they may also have highly emotional or political meanings. Take the phrase: “The Reds are coming!” It could mean so many things: it could mean that a sports team is coming over to your town to play a game. If you were alive in the Cold War era, it means the Communists are coming. Depending on the context, the word “red” may mean skin color or the color of the uniform of an army. It could mean romantic passion or nationalistic fervor. Words open the world of meaning.

3. Listen to interviews and talk shows about political issues. Listening is an ability that very few people develop but it is crucial. People usually have an argument that undergirds their speech. The words allow you to pick the speaker’s brain. For instance, did you notice that in times of crisis, when governments are trying to evade blame or responsibility, they use the passive voice? The spokesperson may say: “It has been established that a breach in the firewall has occurred.” Something really threatening has occurred — someone has hacked a government site but who hacked it, why it was hacked and the extent of the damage is not yet fully known. If the person announcing this knew all the details, they would say, “At 4:03 this morning, a college dropout, sitting in his mother’s basement in Cedar Falls, Iowa, hacked into the website of the Department of Motor Vehicles and uploaded via the internet all the names of registered owners of Blue Prius cars.”

In the first sentence, the language obscures the details of the event because they do not want the public to panic over their security, they want to downplay the effect of the data breach, they want to insulate themselves from blame or they still do not know what has happened.

Listening to people as they explain events or concepts increases the speed with which you evaluate verbal and nonverbal cues. You get a mental workout in decoding meaning.

4. Lay off watching court dramas. Television shows often capitalize on the drama and they give a distorted view of court procedure. If you want drama and an accurate rendering of court procedure, you are better off reading news magazines or case digests. The websites of law firms often have articles that explain the law or post digests of popular or controversial court cases. Court reports are often couched in legalese (legal language), reading them might give you a headache. But then, there is a Canadian judge who writes like a novelist [1] and Justice Roberts wrote his opinion like a crime novelist [2]in the Pennsylvania v. Dunlap case.

5. Watch televised debates. In 2012, the Chief Justice of the Philippines was impeached. The proceedings were televised. My two children watched it with us. They learned more about trial procedure than if they had read books. The intricate rules were in dramatic play every afternoon. Legal minds sparred and lunged, their words were as sharp as their wits.

Law school is a different plane of existence. If you want to get a glimpse of what law school feels like, read Scott Turow’s book, One-L. It approximates the bewildering experience of being in law school as a freshman.

Good luck to you.

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Created: February 9, 2019

  admin | Nigeria

Level Required

  •  O'level
  •  BSC