In this post I hope to give you some insight into our process of producing an index for the Ontario bar exams. I've personally been involved in producing at least 8 complete sets of indices and there are three key ingredients in getting everything to click. Team Members You need to have a reliable and competent team members. This can sometimes be a challenge for us because the process of vetting and selecting candidates is time consuming. We are fortunate to be able to pick from a pool of highly talented individuals. Our company tutors hundreds of law students every year, so we're not limited to selecting members from one university. This year, for example, our team members include graduates from NYU, UofT and UofO as well as top candidates from other law schools. In previous years we've had pools of students from UofT, Ottawa and McGill as part of the same team.
Unlike other indexing groups, our team is kept small because we can control the quality and maintain consistency with a smaller group, whereas other groups can have upwards of a 100 contributors.
Leadership & Consistency
In addition to selecting reliable and competent team members, someone needs to take charge of the group to ensure everyone is working well together. Being law graduates, many team members are opinionated and have strong differing views on how things should function. This can be disastrous for an indexing group where all the members have to work together and follow the same standards to produce a consistent index of high quality that everyone can easily follow. I have managed our indexing group for over 7 years and for the last five years, I've hired a practising lawyer and former indexing group member, to help lead the team. Between the two of us, our group members can confidently rely on our experience to answer their concerns quickly. Our team meets regularly to discuss best practices and answer questions. In addition to our regular team meetings, our team communicates daily through a group chat where they communicate their questions and concerns. This ensures that all the members are on the same page and applying one set of standard rules throughout all sections of our index.
The final key ingredient to producing a reliable index is having a solid base of terms to work off of. Since our first year of producing an index, the number of terms in our index has increased by nearly 60%. It took several years to refine that base and ensure that terms that were no longer in the materials were not lingering around. We also came up with detailed instructions for our members to follow to make sure that we're constantly cleaning up old terms that are no longer found in the materials and adding terms to strengthen existing sections and newly added sections of the index. No terms are deleted or added to our index without a final review from either myself or the other lawyer on our team.
I hope you enjoyed our first instalment of the Bar Indexing Series. Stay tuned to our next post where we talk about the three phases of creating an index.