Law School Discussion

Law Students => Current Law Students => Topic started by: Mookie on August 26, 2005, 06:14:09 PM

Title: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: Mookie on August 26, 2005, 06:14:09 PM
This may sound a little stupid, but how the hell do I do an outline???  Yes, I understand HOW to put one together, but I'm not exactly sure what's supposed to be in it - especially this early in the semester.

For example, I read ahead in various E&E's.  Should I start outlining those, then fill in more information as the topics are covered in class?  Or for Torts, should I be including specific case names we talk about in class or just the rules that come out of them? 

I know these seem like dumb questions, but everyone talks about outlining yet never explains the details...

Suggestions?

Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: BigTex on August 26, 2005, 07:24:38 PM
This may sound a little stupid, but how the hell do I do an outline???  Yes, I understand HOW to put one together, but I'm not exactly sure what's supposed to be in it - especially this early in the semester.

For example, I read ahead in various E&E's.  Should I start outlining those, then fill in more information as the topics are covered in class?  Or for Torts, should I be including specific case names we talk about in class or just the rules that come out of them? 

I know these seem like dumb questions, but everyone talks about outlining yet never explains the details...

Suggestions?

Though classes haven't started yet, my plan:

Suppose on first day of torts class proff assigns cases relating to battery. From having read the E&E's i know this falls under the general classification of intentional torts. So, i'll begin my outline with a heirarchical structure with "Intentional Torts" at the top, "Battery" below it, and i'll incorporate into my outline: a) whatever information/ideas come up in class, b) whatever issues/ideas come up from the case readings, c) pertinent observations from my commercial outline, d) pertinent observations from the E&E, e) pertinent information from 3rd source authoritative materials (e.g. restatement). Initially, my outline will be quite stuffed with all of this information from these various sources. The outline will be quite long. However, as i proceed through the semester i'll get a better feel for what the professor wants us to know and i'll begin removing the extraneous info and focusing my outline into a shorter presentation of the information germane to the class.

anyway, that's my plan. good to have a plan going in i guess ...
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: lawgirl on August 26, 2005, 07:52:24 PM
Wait until you get done with a specific topic or subtopic. For example, don't start outlining until you either get done with intentional torts (main topic) or just one of the subtopics within intentional torts like battery.

If you decide to begin with one of the subtopics like battery (a specific subtipic within the class of torts known as intentional torts) then decide how to structure your outline for that specific subtopic. I would suggest using the elements of battery as a structure. For example, the elements of battery are: 1)intent to cause (there are subissues under this element); 2) a harmful or offensive contact (there are also subissues here). So basically, under the intent portion, add in all of your notes on the cases/class discussion that discussed "intent." Then move to "harmful or offensive contact" and do the same. Basically, it will look like this:

I. Intentional Torts
† † †A. Battery
          1. Intent to cause
               a. Case notes on what this means
               b. Class notes on what this means
          2. Harmful or offensive contact
               a. Case notes on what this means
               b. Class notes on what this means

     B. Assault
          1. Intent to cause
              a. Notes
              b. Notes
          2. Aprehension
              a. Notes
              b. Notes
          3. Of a harmful or offensive contact
              a. Notes
              b. Notes

     C. More Intentional Torts

_____________________________ _____________________________ _______________

II. Negligence
† † †A. Duty

† † †B. Breach

† † †C. Etc.



Just as a note for studying: understand the elements for each tort and how the cases develop those elements, but always keep in mind the big picture. Understand that when you are studying battery, it is just one cause of action under the main topic of intentionl torts and that intentionl torts are a whole different breed of tort compared to negligence. Daily studying for class prep is called being in the trees (understanding the cases, elements of a tort, etc.). Studying for the test involves also being able to see the forest (how all of the major topics split and sometimes converge).

Let me know if you need more help
               
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: zaphod on August 27, 2005, 02:17:43 AM
My method:

Give yourself approximately 40-45 hours (total) for each class, max.  In that amount of time you should be able to completely outline the course (first half of the time) and memorize stuff that needs memorizing.  Spend the rest of the time reading as many exams and exam answers and examples as you can get your hands on.  It really depends on your style, though.  I'm the type of person who really turns it on those few weeks before and during finals.  I read, I book brief, I take good notes, blah, but there is no outlining done until those last few weeks before exams.  That's the way I did it, but I make no predictions as to how that would work for you.
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: S| on August 27, 2005, 08:18:59 AM
Other than your own profs exams, what are some other sources for essay exams, hypos, etc...

For outlining I have been using my notes from the E&Es as a skeleton, then filling it out with class lectures and any specific points from the cases. This seems most effective with Torts and Contracts, but Con Law and Civ Pro haven't even covered a point of law yet. We've had a week of classes and haven't even gotten to the 14th amendment in Civ Pro.  The slow pace of class is nice, but having prepped it seems like we're just crawling, or wasting time on issues that will not be tested upon. Anyone have a take on this?
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: dft on August 27, 2005, 09:23:04 AM
good advice
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: Mookie on August 27, 2005, 11:48:15 AM
Thanks for the advice - that definitely clears up some questions I had.  I was just getting worried about moving ahead with outlining E&E's too quickly, then having them not match up with the lectures, etc.  But, I think I'll just get started then clean everything up as we go.

I am also frustrated - like someone else mentioned - that some professors are all over the place!  I don't know where the hell to put what they're saying in my outline.  My crim law professor has spent FOUR DAYS discussing with us the question: What is punishment?  Then expounding on all this philosophical garbage.  I seriously haven't taken a class note yet.  And it seems like in the other classes, half the students are asking questions that are not relevant to anything!!!  I don't think many of them are familiar with E&E's yet, or PLS, so they're not looking at the big picture stuff yet.

Anyway, thanks again for the advice - I'd welcome any other suggestions as well. 
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: lawgirl on August 27, 2005, 02:39:01 PM
You will definitely have some professors that seem like they are all over the place when you are trying to take notes and organize your stuff. For some professors, they are really all over the place. For others, there is a method to their madness. This is partly why I recommend not to start outlining at least until you have switched topics. If you wait, you will often have a better perspecitve on the subject after you have finished it rather than when you are in the middle of it. If you feel like you should be doing something with the material now, that is fine. Just study your class notes. But outlining takes a different perspective and one that you will not necessarily have until you have moved to a new topic.

As far as your classmates go, 1L is ripe with student comments about numerous things that have nothing to do with the material. Some of it is just excitement, some of them are just being gunners and some of them are just plain stupid. You will learn to tune out the stupid stuff and key into the things that are actually beneficial comments. It will get better, I promise you.  ;)
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: Duner on August 27, 2005, 03:29:38 PM
see if your school has an outline bank...we have a website with old outlines. most professors tell the same stories year after year. i found it's easier to add to old ones and use them as a guide. if you follow it through the semester you'll know if it's good or not too. 
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: BigTex on August 27, 2005, 03:31:10 PM
I am also frustrated - like someone else mentioned - that some professors are all over the place!  I don't know where the hell to put what they're saying in my outline.  My crim law professor has spent FOUR DAYS discussing with us the question: What is punishment?  Then expounding on all this philosophical garbage. 

What are the cases assigned for this discussion? Look up the cases in your commercial outline to understand the 'conventional' context in which these cases sit. Once you have read the cases, used your commercial outline to place the case in a conventional context, and have reviewed a canned brief of each case to understand the conventional meaning of each case, then all of that "philosophical garbage" will probably make a lot more sense and be more amenable to fitting into a particular location in your outline.
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: jewelbomb on August 27, 2005, 05:15:32 PM
Thanks for the advice - that definitely clears up some questions I had.  I was just getting worried about moving ahead with outlining E&E's too quickly, then having them not match up with the lectures, etc.  But, I think I'll just get started then clean everything up as we go.

I am also frustrated - like someone else mentioned - that some professors are all over the place!  I don't know where the hell to put what they're saying in my outline.  My crim law professor has spent FOUR DAYS discussing with us the question: What is punishment?  Then expounding on all this philosophical garbage.  I seriously haven't taken a class note yet.  And it seems like in the other classes, half the students are asking questions that are not relevant to anything!!!  I don't think many of them are familiar with E&E's yet, or PLS, so they're not looking at the big picture stuff yet.

Anyway, thanks again for the advice - I'd welcome any other suggestions as well. 

Mookie, either you and I are in the same Criminal class, or our situations are uncannily similar. You donít happen to go to school in the great state of Ohio do you?

Anyway, Iím no expert (being a 1L myself) but I too notice that I am taking far less notes than those around me. The prof has lectured almost exclusively on policy up to this point. While I realize that policy analysis can/will be tested on a bit, I am far more concerned with the Black Letter Law. I plan on following my own instincts. Screw what those around me do. Just my thoughts.
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: jacy85 on August 27, 2005, 07:03:03 PM
I'd go ask a 2 or 3L that had your Crim prof before you start assuming that the black letter law is more important.  I've heard there are professors that are almost strictly policy based in terms of exams, adn you'll end up screwing yourself by not putting the effort into the right place.
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: _retired_ on August 27, 2005, 07:23:12 PM
ATTN Mac Users:


OMNIOUTLINER


Its in your applications. 
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: slacker on August 27, 2005, 09:26:30 PM
I'd go ask a 2 or 3L that had your Crim prof before you start assuming that the black letter law is more important.  I've heard there are professors that are almost strictly policy based in terms of exams, adn you'll end up screwing yourself by not putting the effort into the right place.
I was going to say something along these lines. If your professor's lectures are policy-based, there's a good chance that there'll be policy-related issues on the exam. Alternatively, if the exam is mostly black letter law, sometimes you can make yourself stand out by also addressing policy concerns.

So, when it comes to the policy, be sure you have an idea of the rationale that are important to the professor. The idea of a prior year's test, and talking to students who had the professor is also helpful.

Finally, the teacher has most likely handed you a syllabus of the material the course will be covering. Often you can use this as a basis for the outline structure, since it's already presenting the information as the professor sees it.
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: phalos on August 28, 2005, 12:13:59 AM
Using the syllabus as a model always helped me out in undergrad, I'm going to keep trying it out here.

And I second what others have been saying: whatever the prof says in class is what's important--at least in terms of the test. No one babbles on and on about a thing without considering that thing important.
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: jewelbomb on August 28, 2005, 06:55:22 AM
I'd go ask a 2 or 3L that had your Crim prof before you start assuming that the black letter law is more important.  I've heard there are professors that are almost strictly policy based in terms of exams, adn you'll end up screwing yourself by not putting the effort into the right place.

Thatís a good point. So this may be a stupid question, but how do you test policy on a typical issue-spotter exam? I can imagine writing answers where policy kinda creeps in to my analysis, but what would an exam that was policy-based look like? In any case, Iíll look for some old exams to get a better idea of how my Prof tests.
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: dft on August 28, 2005, 08:20:41 AM
On a typical issue-spotting hypothetical exam, policy will (from what I understand) come into play after the BLL, to help resolve the issues. That is, if the issue is a "close-call," then you can use policy as a "tie-breaker."

It's unlikely that the entire exam will be policy. It's more likely that the majority of the exam will be issue-spotter/s with one or two policy questions. But (if you do have a strictly policy-based question), there is a systematic approach to take towards that as well. I would suggest doing LEEWS -- it explains this further in depth.

Thatís a good point. So this may be a stupid question, but how do you test policy on a typical issue-spotter exam? I can imagine writing answers where policy kinda creeps in to my analysis, but what would an exam that was policy-based look like? In any case, Iíll look for some old exams to get a better idea of how my Prof tests.
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: dft on August 28, 2005, 08:25:25 AM
I am also frustrated - like someone else mentioned - that some professors are all over the place!  I don't know where the hell to put what they're saying in my outline.  My crim law professor has spent FOUR DAYS discussing with us the question: What is punishment?  Then expounding on all this philosophical garbage.  I seriously haven't taken a class note yet. 

That doesn't really sound that unusual at all. Most of my classes have been a lot of policy as well, at least for the first few days. Also, the jurisprudential/philosophical theories  on punishment (i.e. deterrence, retribution, and rehabiliation)are considered pretty important in Criminal Law -- they help to give you a framework for understanding why courts come to their decisions.

I have the same feeling though -- that when a prof lectures on policy that it is just BS. It feels like this is the point in the lecture when you can just sort of relax and start daydreaming or something. I have been trying to resist that temptation though...
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: JG on August 28, 2005, 09:38:16 AM
I'd advise asking your professors what they want you to do with policy on the exam--it may vary widely.  My torts and property professors last year both talked a lot about policy.  When asked, my torts professor basically said that she wasn't looking for policy rationales when she graded exams.  On the other hand, my property professor told us when asked that one of the three questions on the exam would be entirely about policy. (The question ended up being something like, "Discuss the role of 'first in time' as a principle in the development of property law.")  I largely ignored policy discussions in torts but paid close attention to policy stuff in property, and it worked out for me.
Title: Re: What's the deal with...OUTLINING?!
Post by: istically on September 06, 2005, 04:28:27 PM
Quote
I'd advise asking your professors what they want you to do with policy on the exam--it may vary widely.

And it does vary widely!