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Speed Reading

After my post about writing, it seems proper to chat about reading. More specifically, speed reading.  To write, you must read.  To read for the purposes of writing a Legal  brief, you must speed read. In law, there is never enough time, so success turns on efficiency.  Consuming information, comprehending important tidbits, and applying knowledge keeps you ahead of the curb.

What hinders your ability to take in information quickly? Subvocalization. Subvocalization is the process of reading out loud in your head or mouthing the words to yourself silently as you read. You learned to subvocalize when you learned to read, however, now, you can take in larger chunks of information. You can skip over words that do not convey ideas (e.g. connectors, filler words, and the like). Because, after all, you are reading for ideas.
How to limit* subvocalization?
1. Use your finger as a guide to force yourself to speed up what your eyes see.
2. Hum out loud or count 1,2,3,4 out loud to distract your inner voice
3. Practice makes perfect, so be consistent.
Below are apps that help you practice limiting subvocalization.
1. Spreed (Chrome app extension)
Enjoy

After my post about writing, it seems only proper to chat about reading. More specifically, speed reading.  To write, you must read.  To read for the purposes of writing a Legal  brief, you must speed read. In law, there is never enough time, so success turns on efficiency.  Consuming information, comprehending important tidbits, and applying knowledge keeps you ahead of the curb.

What hinders your ability to take in information quickly? Subvocalization. Subvocalization is the process of reading out loud in your head or mouthing the words to yourself silently as you read. You learned to subvocalize when you learned to read, however, now, you can take in larger chunks of information. You can skip over words that do not convey ideas (e.g. connectors, filler words, and the like). Because, after all, you are reading for ideas.
How to limit* subvocalization?
1. Use your finger as a guide to force yourself to speed up what your eyes see.
2. Hum out loud or count 1,2,3,4 out loud to distract your inner voice
3. Practice makes perfect, so be consistent.
Below are apps that help you practice limiting subvocalization.
1. Spreed (Chrome app extension)
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Editing Tools

I am a perfectionist (all type-A’s are). This quality manifests itself in various ways. One way is my writing process.  I edit as I write. This habit is a time-suck and a surefire way to miss deadlines. Worst of all, this habit prevents me from committing my brilliant ideas to the page.

So, I went macro with my perfectionism. I decided to adopt this principle when I draft: substance beats form.  This principle creates a level of writing confidence, where I know that at a minimum, I can turn in a brief with all the pieces.

At any rate, I found tools to perfect my process, which I outlined below.

Research Tool

I like to start out with a factual timeline of what happened (the story that gave rise to the complaint – don’t cite at this point). After that, I like to come up with a procedural timeline of the case (depending on your time restraints).

After I layout the factual timeline, I move to the legal timeline. What are the issues? USE SECONDARY SOURCES to get a grip on the legal issue. Fully understand the issue. Then create a legal precedent timeline. (Spend the time to cite your sources now). Return to your factual timeline to answer this questions: What facts match up with the legal precedent? (cite the record at this point).  This process helps you identify the facts that create the basis of a claim. This is also a skeleton of what the outline is going to look like.

  1. TimeGlider (quick and dirty)
  2. Capzles (multi-media) – This takes some time, but it could be good for oral argument because images trigger memory 5x faster than words do.

Outline Tool

  1. SimpleMap – This tool is makes it easy to rearrange your big ideas and subparts. It’s fantastic if your a visual/kinesthetic person. Once your finished with your mindmap you can export it as a traditional outline. This traditional outline is now your shell outline.

Write/Productivity Tools 

  1. Write or Die – This site scares you into meeting your deadlines.
  2. ZenPen – This site gives you an internet-free workspace.**What I am really looking is a writing tools that eliminates the worry of an imperfect sentence. I’ve looked through Q10, Darkroom, and various others, which all eliminate the internet or toolbars.  I’m less distracted by any of that and more distracted by my own words.

After the pieces are committed to paper, that is when you shift your focus to editing.

Edit/Flow Tools

  1. ProWriting
  2. SlickWrite

Flow Tips

  1. Jonathon Fields
  2. TheAdventurousWriterSentence
  3. CopyBlogger
  4. Wordstream
  5. Talent Egg
  6. WritetoDone

That about sums it up. There’s a ton more tools and as I continue to perfect my writing process, I’ll update this bad mama jamma.

Legal Ludd-elites

The sloppy pun title gets my point across, however indelicately. Mainly, law schools are inept because it fails to prepare students to practice law.

Specifically, solo practitioners should know how to run a business.
If you agree with this premise, then you can certainly follow me to its logical end: why doesn’t law school focus on creating lawyers that know how to run a business?

A good attorney does not amount to a good employer. In fact, often an attorney ends up lacking the ability to be a good employer.  A good lawyer is an argumentative-story teller who picks out the flaws in opposing counsel’s arguments. This same good attorney knows very little about translating this skill into a servant-leadership role. 

A servant leader is an individual who creates an environment for her employees to thrive. A servant leader is prepared to support her staff in seeking their own ambitions within the wheelhouse of the company. This position requires humility.

In law school, there are ZERO lessons in humility. More often than not, the lesson of humility is taught in the form of humiliation.  Teaching humility through humiliation creates a breeding ground for insecurity, arrogance, and ego.

An individual overcome with these traits is not setup for success in general. In law, this is particularly devastating because an attorney should first and foremost be an educator. An educator who can teach a judge,a jury, and the layman. Insecurity, arrogance, and ego trump an individual’s ability to be patience and educate. P

I acknowledge law school teaches students about the law. But who teaches the students about the practical realities of dealing with people? A HUGE PART OF BEING A LAWYER IS DEALING WITH PEOPLE. There are no employee conflict resolution courses. There are no leadership courses.

For the forgone reasons, I can help but think that the law school system is broken. It is broken, however, because it is the way we’ve always done it – we don’t bother to fix it.

Email Apocalypse

Personally, I can’t wait to get rid of emails altogether. Email is clunky and messy. I can never seem to find the exact email I’m looking for.  I know I’m not the only one to who has taken a ding to my credibility when I’ve accidentally hit the “reply all.” Gmail, as a gmail fangirl, I say with tongue and cheek – I am fine sending promotions straight to the spam box. In short, email is just madness.

But, we still need to communicate. So, here are my favorite email alternatives.

  1. Asana – you can put due date on projects, use it for personal or team projects.  Asana sends out follow-up notifications to the person that has been assigned to that project. Plus, your whole team can see the communication thread. AMAZING.
  2. Hackpad – this is a great cloudbased workspace for brainstorming ideas with your team. This cuts down meeting and/or not following up about the items covered in the previous meetings.
  3. Trello – similar to Asana but the interface is more like a hootsuite board versus a todo-list. (The design is just a little much for me, but still a great alternative).
  4. Box – similar to Google Drive or OneDrive, but here you don’t have to be with the same email provider to have access to these documents. It’s a little clunky when it comes to working on the same document at the same time, but it allows you to assign a person and due date to the project.

Efficiency and productivity without email…ah paradise.

#waitingfortheemailapocalypse

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