« on: June 10, 2004, 06:16:36 PM »
I am sure that there are students out there that can study effectively without outlines, but I highly recommend them.
In law school, you are working with a large amount of information. Your grade in each course depends on a grade that you receive on one test at the end of the semester. In order to organize the large amount of information into something that you can study from for the exam, most people need an outline. It not only organizes information in a basic way, but it enables you to see the structure of the topic and see the how the information breaks down into groups.
You could spend the entire semester learning all of the information as a group, but after a few weeks, it will start to look like a garbled mess. It will look like case after case of holdings and rules with no structure and no meaningful way to put it into something you can work with. If you outline, you can structure a particular course into (for example) four topics (that have subtopics, etc.). If you can see the course in four topics, it is much easier to understand each topic individually and then apply it to the whole.
For example, in Torts 2, we studied Strict Liability, Products Liability, Misrepresentation, Defamamation, etc. If I had just used class notes and not put them into a structure, they would have blended together and I would not have been able to recall them for the test. Outlining enables you to see the forest for the trees (a good saying for law school). If you are stuck in the trees (the glob of cases, rules, etc.), you will never see the topic as a whole and understand how things work together on a larger level.
Also, you can use any software program in order to do your outlines. Nothing special is needed. I would just recommend doing your own outlines (look at commercial ones for guidance if you need it). If you do it on you own, you will see the big picture easier, and you will have put time and energy into it, which helps to learn it. In general, I recommend outlining whenever you make a major turn in the specific course (ex: in Torts, when you change from Intentional Torts to Negligence).
Just my thoughts, but it has worked for me and I have received all A's.