ABA Techshow

Mind Mapping Lets Lawyer Thoughts Flow in a Visual Way

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Looking for a new way of thinking about your next big case or contract? You might want to try mind mapping it.

Mind mapping, for the uninitiated, uses software to allow organization of ideas, thoughts, tasks and activities in a creative and visual way. Proponents say it helps them more easily see the big picture as well as the individual parts of a particular case or transaction.

It can also enhance your productivity by allowing you to do more in less time while communicating more effectively, better managing your work flow, conducting more efficient legal research, and brainstorming with colleagues in real time.

What’s more, it can easily be integrated with other practice-related software like Microsoft Office and Outlook’s calendar, tasks and email.

Best of all, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. (Some of the software options are free.) And you can be up and running with only 15 minutes of training—or become a real pro if you have an hour or two to invest.

Two such pros—Britt Lorish, a legal technology consultant with the Affinity Consulting Group in Roanoke, Va., and Dave Maxfield, a Columbia, S.C., litigation lawyer and avid mind mapper—demonstrated the software’s possibilities Tuesday at the first-ever ABA Techshow presentation on mind-mapping technology.

Maxwell, who started diagramming his thoughts on butcher paper while preparing for the bar in 1994, says he found graphic display helped him remember information better than a typical outline did. Mind mapping is no different, he said, except that space is unlimited and the information can be changed at will.

“It’s really just a different way of doing what we as lawyers are doing already,” he says. “It lets you see the forest and the trees at the same time.”

Lorish, who uses mind mapping to chart the status of various projects she’s managing, said the beauty of the technology is how little effort it takes to master.

“How many pieces of software can you say that about,” she asked.

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