What if I told you that you could use food to learn the law? What if I said a layperson who never went to law school could become a master of the core legal subjects in minutes? What if, even before you step foot on a law school campus, you could get a leg up on knowing the law, including everything from Torts to Property.
All you have to do is learn a few pizza menus, cookbook recipes, and salad dishes.
Let me explain. My name is Ope Adebanjo and I am a Harvard Law School-educated lawyer and legal technology expert. While teaching and mentoring 100+ law students around the country, I created the Food Lover’s Guide to Law as a resource that prepares students like you to excel as lawyers. It started with a simple idea; What if there was a easy and fun way to learn the law using visual diagrams all centered around food?
My students at Harvard Law School were pretty skeptical when I told them that I could teach them Torts using a pizza menu. Here’s the scenario. During the pandemic, while I was studying for the bar exam, I was a teaching assistant for a class of 1Ls at Harvard Law School. It was the fall semester and students were remotely learning Torts. Many of them were struggling to grasp the subjects and understand how all the cases related to each other. One pivotal moment was when one student came to my office hours and said, “I just don’t get it. I can’t understand what a tort is or how bringing a case for battery relates to a products liability claim. It would be amazing if there was a way to just see the entire subject from a bird’s eye level.”
Well, challenge accepted. I decided that I was going to create that map that he had asked for. Fast forward a couple weeks later, and I showed up to class and began my spiel.
“Good afternoon class. Today, I’m going to teach you Torts, a notoriously difficult subject to learn, in just 30 minutes using a pizza menu.”
I could feel the eye rolls from across the screens.
I toggled around on my Zoom screen and pulled up the first draft of the Torts Pizza Kitchen menu. That’s when I began my walkthrough. By the end of the 30 minutes, skeptical students had turned into believers. The parts of Tort law that seemed confusing and complex just moments before became more clear. Suddenly, they could understand the difference between an assault and a battery, what exactly a negligence claim entails, and what res ispa loquitur actually means.
The craziest part was that by creating the Torts Pizza Kitchen, I found it helped me understand Torts better too. And I started acing the questions on that portion of the bar exam prep. When I passed the bar on my first try, I knew that this method could be helpful to many others. The best part came at the end of the semester. The student who had asked for the “map of Torts” sent me a message that he had received a Dean’s Scholar grade in Torts – the highest grade possible for the course. When students in the course shared other success stories, I realized I was on to something. I set out to expand the Torts Pizza Kitchen menu to all the different law school subjects. There had to be an easier and more fun way to learn the law than the traditional case law method.
SEE IT IN ACTION
So what is the Food Lover’s Method?
The method combines your love for food with the power of visual learning. Say goodbye to dry textbooks, and hello to tasty diagrams that bring legal concepts to life in a whole new way.
Let’s take a look at it in action. I’m going to walk you through how a valid contract is made using the Food Lover’s Method.
First, we’ll enter into the world of Contracts, which in the Food Lover’s Law world is the restaurant Taco World. For this scenario, you are a new employee at the Taco World restaurant and you’re learning the proper steps to create a taco. These steps conveniently translate to how to create a valid contract.
What do we mean by a valid contract? Most people have a general understanding of what it is, but there’s more to it than just putting some words on a paper and signing it. The definition of valid contract is a legally enforceable agreement. This just means that there is an agreement between two or more parties that can be enforced in court. And potentially, if one side doesn’t fulfill their side of the contract, the court can compel them to pay money for what they haven’t done.
In Taco World, there are three steps and a few considerations to create a taco. The shell, the proteins, and making sure nothing breaks or spills during the creation process. Similarly, in the Contracts world, there are three steps to create a valid contract:
1) Mutual Assent
3) No Defenses
Mutual assent translates to the taco shells in Taco World. It is what holds the agreement together. As you’ll see, it requires three sides to truly stand. In contracts, mutual assent means that both parties to the contract have agreed to it and have a mutual understanding of the terms of their agreement. Mutual assent requires three steps.
1) The first step is the offer. Someone says, “Hey, I’d like to contract with you. I’d like to buy your car for $5,000.” That’s an offer. T
2) The next step is that there is no termination of that offer. This just means that while the person who might accept the offer is considering whether to take it, the original person who made the offer hasn’t already terminated or revoked their offer.
3) In mutual assent, the final step is acceptance. The second person has accepted the offer and is ready to move forward with the agreement. In our example, this means the car owner says “Sure, you can buy my car for $5,000.” And just like that, we have mutual assent. Both parties have agreed to contract and agree on the terms of their agreement.
But it doesn’t just stop there. Every contract requires consideration. Consideration means that something of value is being exchanged by both parties In Taco world, this is the meat, or protein, of your taco. Or in Contracts world, the meat of your contract. It answers the question of what exactly the contract is about.
You’ll see in the diagram that there are a few different types of consideration. The first kind of consideration on the menu is the bargained-for-exchange of value, which is the most valid kind of consideration. It means that both sides have given up something of value, such as their car or the $5,000.
There are also a few types of agreements that don’t count as valid consideration. For example, illusory promises are uncooked meat because they’re not mutual exchanges of value, but instead a promise to do something without getting anything in return. An example of this would be promising to give someone your car, no payment needed. That would be a gift, not a contract, because there’s not a mutual exchange of value for both sides.
Finally, you have the third step of creating a taco (i.e. a contract). In Taco World, we require that our tacos have no spillage or breakage, meaning no taco shells broken or protein spilling out onto the tray. This step in the contract formation process requires that there be no defenses brought by either party for why the contract should not be valid.
A broken taco shell would be a defense against the offer or acceptance stage of the contract formation. Examples of these broken shell defenses include incapacity, like if someone was intoxicated or too young to agree to a contract. Another is unconscionability, which occurs when the bargaining power between the two parties was so imbalanced that the contract formation process was too unfair to be considered valid. Protein spillage defenses include defense regarding the consideration step of the contract. An example of this is illegality, or when two parties try to contract to do something illegal, like rob a bank. This would not be a valid contract, because the court can’t enforce an agreement to do something illegal.
And just like that, you can understand how a valid contract is made. We hope you come back to our restaurant again soon!
WHO THIS CAN HELP
Now that you’ve seen it in action, let me share a little bit of how this can be helpful to so many people who are interested in learning the law.
For pre-law students – or those who are aspiring to go to law school – this method helps to demystify the law school experience. You hear so much about how difficult it is, and how complex the subjects are. Well, what if you could understand it before you even start law school? You could walk into the classroom knowing what you were getting into and with a leg up over your peers. For students fresh to law school who’ve used this method, they’ve shared how the visual diagrams make the abstract concrete, allowing them to quickly grasp how all the cases come together.
For my 1Ls out there, I hope that this will help to finally understand what you’re supposed to be learning in class by making it clear, simple, and dare I say fun. You’ll be able to focus less on trying to read all the different guides and cases to understand the law. As one student shared, “Ope’s Torts Pizza Kitchen was not only helpful, but it also brought light and fun into a really dark time: 1L during the pandemic. As someone who learns better with visual aids, mnemonics, and analogies, (and as someone who loves food), I appreciated Ope’s effort to help us *digest* all the information being thrown at us that year. I’m looking forward to seeing what other yummy resources she has to offer in her Food Lover’s Guide to Law.”
For the general audience who’ve been curious about this whole law thing, I hope that this will help you understand the American legal system that much quicker. You won’t have to live in the fog, wondering how to make a contract or pondering what a crime is. The Food Lover’s Guide to Law includes visual diagrams and detailed explanations for the six core legal subjects –Civil Procedure, Torts, Criminal Law, Contracts, Property, and Constitutional Law. With all the subjects in one place, you’ll be able to quickly pick up this book and have the bird’s-eye-level understanding in order to dive deeper into the American legal system.
I share tips on how to succeed in law school in my free workshop Conquer the Law: How to Succeed in Law School from 1L to the Bar Exam. You Get access to this free workshop by clicking Food Lover’s Law Free Workshop.
If you want to learn more about the remaining subjects and how the Food Lover’s Method works, pre-order your copy of The Food Lover’s Guide to Law at Food Lover’s Law.
Finally, I also post content for aspiring and current law students sharing how to prepare for your legal journey, best practices all along the way, as well as helpful tips on how to understand legal subjects. Follow me on social media on Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, and TikTok
Bio: Ope Adebanjo is a Harvard Law School-educated lawyer and legal technology expert. Ope’s writing focuses on making complex legal concepts simple and easy to understand. Ope is a passionate foodie and aspiring chef. Ope deeply enjoys bringing together her love of food and developing successful future lawyers by creating accessible and engaging legal content that everyone can consume and enjoy.
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