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Messages - lawgirl

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General Board / Re: reading in law school?
« on: June 27, 2004, 11:51:08 PM »
There might be some people who can skate through law school, not really learn anything and come out not competent to represent a client, but why would you want to do that? If you don't learn how to read caselaw in law school (read it, really understand what the case is about and how it fits into the bigger body of law), you certainly won't be able to do it once you begin to practice. And make no mistake, you will need to understand how to do this in practice. Otherwise, I suppose, purchase a ton of malpractice insurance and prepare to switch careers after a few appearences in court.

1. Read through the case once, underline things you find important (facts, law, reasoning, holding)

2. A few days later, brief the case. Type or write it into paper format using the same headers as above: facts, law, reasoning, holding. But this time, cut out what you clearly don't need. Try to keep the brief to one page. During this phase, you will begin to understand it on a deeper level.

3. On the day of class, review your briefs before you go to class. Review it so that you could recite it if asked. During this phase, you are trying to understand the case on an even deeper level and trying to figure out why it is important for the section of class that you are studying (ex: why is this case important for Torts: Intentional Torts).

In class, use your brief, but have your book handy for reference. If you color-code when you highlighted/underline during the first time you read it, you should be able to find anything that is important quickly during class.

General Board / Re: Desperate for good advice
« on: June 13, 2004, 12:37:56 PM »
Ask yourself: Do I really want this? If you do, don't let this get you down. Figure out what you need to fix, find whatever help you need and JUST DO IT. If you really want it, you can make it happen.

« on: June 12, 2004, 11:17:03 PM »
Thank you, Andrew. It locked mine up.

« on: June 12, 2004, 08:55:09 PM »
It will do crazy things to your computer and whoever posted it, you are an ass. Grow up.

I just use MS Word. There are a lot of companies that make software for law school and I have seen some people use it. I'm sure it is helpful to some people. I don't use it because I prefer to create the outline myself. I feel like I get more out of it when I have to create it myself (another exposure to working with it to learn the material). I'm sure it is fine and there is nothing wrong with it. I just don't prefer it.

As to your last comment, what you are feeling right now is perfectly normal. This is something that every new student goes through. You feel lost and not sure what to expect, how things work, etc. That is perfectly normal and every 1L feels that way. The best thing that I can recommend is to read the 1L primer books that are out there describing what law school is like and what happens,  how to do well, etc. They will not necessarily be on target for your specific school and they cannot give you THE method that will work for everyone, but it is a nice preview and it is something to make you feel better and not so lost.

If I can do anything else, let me know. I'll answer any questions that you have.

You also asked about flow charts and note taking in class. I used flow charts for one class (Civil Procedure). I used it after I had already outlined and started studying. It was a way to test my knowledge and see if I was understanding the relationships between concepts. In general, I think you should use whatever works. The best advice I can give you is that the more you actually work with tne material, the better. If you have a system that works for you, use it. Above all else, do whatever it takes to understand the law at the minute level (black letter law, for example; the definition of intent for battery purposes), but MAKE SURE you can put it into some kind of a structure
(Torts: Intentional Torts, Negligence, Strict Liability).

As for note taking, I'm not sure what you are asking. I use a laptop (I wrote them by hand the first semester and it is much easier with a laptop). I try to figure out what the structure of the class is for that day (ex: Civil Procedure: Subject Matter Jurisdiction: Types: Diversity Jurisdiction and Federal Question Jurisdiction) and how it would fit in an overall structure for the class. And then I take notes. I might use a header: Diversity Jurisdition and take notes over all of the cases and what ever the prof says pertaining to diversity jurisdiction. Then, when the prof moves to federal question jurisdiction, I make a new header for that and do the same thing.

After you have outlined for awhile (and I recommend outlining whenever you make a major shift in clas,ex: from the inentional torts to negligence), you will start to understand what information you need to include and what information you don't. For example, in my sample outline above, I put a case name and then put the major parts of a case (facts, law, reasoning and holding). These are the major things that I include when I brief a case for class, but I don't put them all in my outline. For my outline, I might just put a one line sentence of the facts of the case to refresh my memory and a one or two line sentence for the main gist of what Garrett v. Dailey stood for.

Once you are done, you will have a major outline for each class. When you study, you can then study the class outline in parts. For example, when I study Torts, I take the part of my outline involving intentional torts and keep that separate from negligence. I separate the intentional tort outline into its parts: Battery, Assault, etc. I study one part at a time (Battery). Then I study the next part (Assault). I study each part separately, keeping in mind that these are all the causes of action under the main heading of intentional torts.

When I feel like I have a good grasp on Intentional Torts, I then move onto Negligence. I set intentional torts aside and put all of the stuff for negligence in front of me. I then separate negligence out into its main sectios, which are the elements of duty, breach, etc. I study each of those separately, keeping in mind that these all go under the topic of negligence.

This is the approach that I take for each class. If you do it correctly in your study time before the exam, it will all come together. You will see the patterns and how things group together. Everyone learns differently, but this is what worked for me.


That is how you construct your skeleton outline. You are looking for the main topics and subtopics to put in your outline. For torts, it will be the main causes of action (Intentional Torts, Negligence, Strict Liability) and under each of those the types of torts that fit into that category (Intentional Torts: Battery, Assault, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, etc), and under each specific tort, the elements that are required to prove each of them. As you outline, you will be filling in examples of case law that flush out what the elements are and how to prove them.
Just as an example:
I. Intentional Torts
     A. Battery
          1. Elements of Battery
                a. Intent
                     1. Definition of Intent
                          a. kjsflksjflskfsldfjslfjs
                          b. ksjflflkflsflskjflkjflsj
                     2. Case Law
                          a. Garrett v. Dailey
                              1. Facts
                              2. Law
                              3. Reasoning
                              4. Holding
     B. Assault
          1. Elements of Assault

II. Negligence
     A. Elements
          1. Duty
          2. Breach
          3. And so on, and so forth

In short, you use the syllabus and your case book table of contents to get the structure and then you use your class notes to fill in the information.


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