Sunday, May 4, 2008

Memorizing key provisions of the law

During my law student days, I rarely memorized key provisions of the law. I don't like memorizing, but in some forced circumstances, memorize I did. And of all the provisions I've memorized, only one stuck to my mind to this day: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws." It's the residue of one professor's strict orders for us to memorize all the provisions of the Bill of Rights.

Fact is, I survived law school not through memorizing legal provisions, because I hate memorizing, but on understanding these laws and knowing their purpose.

Now, I am preparing for the September Bar exam. And as has been said many times, one cannot expect to survive this exam without memorizing. The drunken master (hehe, that's me or what I would assume myself to be) however will not take that rule sitting down or hook line and sinker. There has to be a compromise, a not so unnecessarily difficult way to engage in this monotonous, mentally non-stimulating activity of memorizing or else I won't do it.

A few Bar tips, advice, notes and books later (among them A.M. De Castro's), I think I've found it. The magic formula. Now I can memorize, and enjoy it! Here it is:

Key words. In important legal provisions you must memorize, don't start by immediately absorbing and retaining it word-for-word. That's really painstaking because it's boring. The first step is to understand the provision; that is the purpose of reading annotated books and reviewers because they often explain the meaning and purpose of the provisions. Second, identify the key words. That is what you have to memorize first. It would help if you associate these key words with something already committed in your memory. Once you've mastered the keywords, then logically connect them. Viola! (and I do hope it will work for you), you have memorized the provision.

For example, Sec. 5 Rule 7 of the Rules of Court on Non-forum shopping certification. It's a long provision so the key words or phrases I've roughly selected are quite many:

- under oath
- same issues
- no such other action
- present status
- same or similar action
- five days
- not curable
- dismissal
- false certification
- indirect contempt
- administrative and criminal actions
- willful and deliberate
- summary dismissal
- direct contempt

Now logically tie them up by asking yourself what have these words got to do with forum shopping and how does each word relate to the other words. From the key words alone you'll already remember the consequences of violating the rule, that is dismissal of the complaint, indirect contempt, or direct contempt, with administrative and criminal actions, depending on the nature of the violation if it's only failure to comply or willful and deliberate non-compliance.

Try it. It probably doesn't work for everyone but it worked for me.

Tags: Bar tips


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