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Category: Law

How to study private law: logic and memory techniques.

Many readers of the blog ask me for advice on the right method of study for jurisprudence, and in particular on how to study private law , one of the black beasts of the Italian university.

Even more specifically, Giacomo asks me how to use the technique of the loci and the palace of memory to study law, and gives me an example of a typical article of the code to memorize:

“ARTICLE 2206  c.c. 
Advertising of the public prosecutor’s office

The power of attorney with signature of the certified principal must be filed for registration with the competent company register office.

In the absence of registration, the representation is considered general and the limitations of it are not opposable to third parties, if it is not proved that they knew them at the time of the conclusion of the affair. 

So we will see how to use memory techniques to remember it, but in the meantime I introduce you to a guest who helped me to write this article on how to study private law.

Because, you see, in order to graduate in medicine, I have had to give the legal exam, but certainly this is not enough experience to know how to study private law, which is the cornerstone of the degree in jurisprudence.

So I asked a friendly lawyer, P. Jay, to help me.

P. Jay is the right person, because before becoming a lawyer he was on both sides of the barricade.

She was in fact a law student, taking four months to prepare private law, her first exam.

Then, after graduating a few years later with full marks and on time, she continued with a research doctorate and a series of research grants, which led her to teach and question young people, often only 5-6 years younger than she.

This has allowed her to develop a very solid idea of ​​how a good study method for jurisprudence should be done, and how to study private law, the “brick” exam par excellence.

I leave it to the word.

Studying private law is like studying the basics of a language

Whether you are a student of law, economics, or even high school, the first thing you need to focus on is that learning law means, first of all, learning a new language.

In fact, law is a universe of terms only apparently of common sense. In reality behind each term there are a series of concepts that are the domain of the jurist and which are unknown to the common language.

For example, when in law you hear about agents, prosecutors, representatives and principals you have to raise your ears.

In fact, you are sure, knowing also how much jurisprudence there is on the subject, of how close they are, but actually very different, each one of those words and situations.

While for the common person, who does not deal with law, each of those words has a vague, imprecise, and indistinct definition of the others.

Therefore, any law study you undertake:

  • First you must learn the meaning of the terms that must be used in every single circumstance;
  • Secondly, you must know that the law is very strict and that – at least in most cases – only one is the correct term to use.

For this reason private law is studied in the first year. And always for this reason, if you learn it well, all the follow-up to jurisprudence will be easier for you.

Exactly how, when you learn a language, it is easier to proceed if you have well constructed the initial core of vocabulary and grammatical structures.

How to study private law in 3 weeks?!? I do not think you agree

For this reason I always shake my head when I read about people who want to teach you how to study private law in 3 weeks.

Attention, not that it is impossible!

With a little luck and studying only the most important pieces and the “professor’s questions”, you can do it in less time.

But then you will drag with difficulty for the other 20 and pass university exams, without ever being able to solve the usual problems:

  • lack of adequate legal terminology
  • lack of basic logical structures
  • poor ability to link different legal concepts
  • total vacuums on this or that aspect of the law

How to learn law (even if you do not study law)

in  How to study private law , it is explained how important it is to take possession of the terminology and logic of legal reasoning

in 9 indispensable articles of the civil code (and how to learn them) , there are practical examples of how an article is memorized

Many law students wrote to me telling me how, thanks to them, they managed to speed up their study.

While someone has instead complained of not being able to absolutely apply the techniques (see for example my answer to a law student ).

But do you know who really has so much trouble studying right?

Who makes a university different from jurisprudence and suddenly is facing an exam that is full of legal things !

And I think there is at least one such exam in every course of Italian university studies.

The problem is not only the objective difficulty of remembering the number and content of an article. There is also fear that it is, apparently, something completely new.

I then asked Raffaele, a medical student who writes for GliAudaci, to prepare an example of the use of mnemonics for this type of exams.

I leave the word then!

How I used memory techniques for my Hygiene exam

by Raffaele Lisisco 

“Today I want to share with you an exercise to apply together the memory techniques to the legal topics of a medical exam.

Obviously the theme is quite specific, but I think the modus operandi can also be applied to many other exams.

Before starting, however, I would like to make a clarification: even if it seems paradoxical, I hate to learn the concepts by heart!

And this is precisely why I approached the world of mnemonics : to save time for something that just does not go down, and to make the process of memorization a little more varied and interesting than not “read and repeat”.

Let’s start!

Preliminary actions: what to do before storing

If you have been following Armando Elle’s blog for some time, you will know that memorization techniques are not the first step, but the last, of an effective method of study . (go to the article on the university study method )

If you use the classic study scheme, that is, open the book from page one and go on trying to memorize everything, you will not only encounter great difficulties, but you will really lose a lot of time.

You may find yourself in the middle of a book after several days, and remember almost nothing of what you have studied at the beginning.

If you want to study quickly and well , you have to build a “basic familiarity” with the topic to be studied as quickly as possible.

Which means you have to:

  • Read it quickly (preferably first by skimming , and then quick reading )
  • Conceptually elaborate the text
  • Identify the main topics
  • Maybe even mark the keywords that refer to those topics

Without worrying too much about remembering! (Which, however, already at this stage, a little ‘will happen naturally)

Only after, with these basic steps, you have identified the concepts to which you give priority and the details to remember by heart , you can really start to worry about memorizing.

And you can do it using mnemonics !

Such as? I show you with an example, taken from my study of the examination of Hygiene and Medicine of the Territory.

Material selection: what to remember

To start storing, you need to select the material to remember.

And, especially if it is about “pure data” (ie dates, numbers, definitions, particular names), it may be useful to write a list or to do some kind of schema or table.

This is not a fundamental operation, but I recommend it, because it always gives me good results.

In any case, the important thing is to remember only the necessary information , and these vary according to the exam, the faculty, and the particular case.

For example, a student of Medicine might not be interested if the words DPR or D.Lgs. Appear on the book, while for a law student, things change.

However, especially at the first memorization, do not be afraid to “skim”, and be as essential as possible !

Because there is always time to memorize new things once you have a good orderly knowledge core in your mind.

While if you try to load too many things all together, you will inevitably remember little and confusingly.

Coming to the laws to be learned for my examination, I have used this very simple scheme:

Abbreviation of the decree (eg 833/78), memorized through the phonetic conversion + keyword (eg birth of the SSN) that describes its content, and allows me to connect it to the studied concepts.

Believe me that it is more than enough for the first memorization phase, and allows you to build a steel “frame” on which you can store the rest.