Law School Discussion


« on: February 11, 2005, 05:24:21 PM »
What is everyone's approach to outlining?  Do you outline weekly, after the end of a topic, every few weeks?  How do you fit it into your schedule?  I had trouble last semester trying to fit everything in. I am trying to outline as I go along now, but it is hard to do everything.  I want to continue briefing the cases and focusing on legal writing assignments.  It seems I can't give everything the attention I would like to.  Any suggestions?


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Re: Outlining
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2005, 11:42:10 PM »
Well, you are doing what I am... trying to get the outline before you need it. But that damned legal writing is killing me.

Re: Outlining
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2005, 04:32:11 PM »
I've said this many times on this board- but focus on your writing class first, SLJ0720, those are the skills your need at your first internship or summer job and your exams.  You cannot do it all, let alone do it all well.  You have to pick where to focus your engeries.  (There is a girl in my class who does do it all, her hair is falling out and she vibrates with an intensity that suggests she might never actually sleep).

If I were going to outline I'd say do it each week.  One of my friends does a reasonable job right in class.  He takes very sparse, well organized notes of the most important things said by the prof and the rule(s) discussed that day.  End of the semester he compiles this info into short outlines.

Most of the people I know who successfully complete their own outlines are creating them everyday on their laptops and just edit into something managable end of semester.

Personally I'm awful at that type of organization, and I say why reinvent the wheel when some upperclassman or professional has already done it for me.  I create short outlines a few weeks before finals from my decidedly sorry notes from class and a few reliable looking outside sources.  I also find case briefing to be a waste of time- 1L I spent my time on my writing class, this year my trial ad class gets most of my focus. 
But of course each to his own system, I just truely believe in learning how to write.


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Re: Outlining
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2005, 05:51:27 PM »
Students often ask, "When should you outline?" 

When it comes down to it, there really isn’t a “should” about it.  There are many ways to succeed in law school.  (I guess the converse is true as well, but let’s not go there.) 

Nevertheless, there is a group of professionals who once were law students, then passed bar exams, then (many) practiced law, and now counsel thousands of students – these are the Academic Support directors and personnel at law schools across the nation.  What do they say?

I advise students to update outlines in each course weekly.  You will find similar advice from many law school Academic Support professionals around the country.  For example, Suffolk Law School’s Academic Support Director, Herbert N. Ramy, counsels: “Some of you may be planning on spending a great deal of time on your outlines near the end of the semester, completing them as exams are about to begin.  This is a recipe for disaster.”  Brooklyn Law School’s Director of Educational Services, Linda Feldman, offers similar advice. 

For links to several sites explaining when, why and how to outline, click on the box entitled “Outlines (Course Summaries)” on my FAQ page  (Note: If you follow my link to Professor Ramy's page, you will find the link to his excellent outlining advice on the right side of his page ... that takes you to an article that is well worth reading.)

Another Academic Support professional who advises on this topic is University of Dayton Law School's Professor Vernellia Randall.  Her outlining page is at

If you find more professional advice that you think will be valuable to students, send me an e-mail, will you?

Re: Outlining
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2005, 09:00:01 PM »
Thanks everyone for the help. 

Re: Outlining
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2005, 04:54:44 PM »
LEGALINES is the answer.

Re: Outlining
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2005, 10:10:30 PM »
Not that my way is right but...

I have just started my outlines for this semester.  My thinking is that starting a month out gives me a good review of the course as a whole.  This way worked well for me last semester - even though some people might think I am crazy for doing it this way.

I know a lot of other people who do it at the end of chapter or subject.  Others do it weekly. 

Honestly it is just a matter of personal preference.  Find a way that works for you and stick to it.

Re: Outlining
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2005, 06:53:14 PM »
Students at my school sell outlines to you. For 20 bucks or so. As far as buying actual books from bookstores, be them commercial outlines or canned case briefs, it is advisable to go to another law school in your area to get them.


Re: Outlining
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2005, 07:16:28 AM »
Students at my school sell outlines to you. For 20 bucks or so. As far as buying actual books from bookstores, be them commercial outlines or canned case briefs, it is advisable to go to another law school in your area to get them.

Wow, that's pretty cold to charge people. Here, people post them online and there are usually several very good ones posted for each class.

In addition to filling in the gaps in my own outlines, I have also found them to be a priceless way to be more prepared when called on, as you can often discern beforehand what the professor is really going to focus on in class.

Re: Outlining
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2005, 02:22:55 PM »
I am keeping up with my reading even when LRW gets intense. While preparing for finals last term I found myself on the couch way too many times reading the spots I skipped so I could include notes in my outlines. That was an immense waste of time. I also wasted hours switching between the case book index, my notes, the syllabus and my briefs to construct my outlines. This term everything is in one document for each class. I plug in the date of each lecture, the reading material assigned, and (if I bother) the case briefs.

I'm moving away from formal briefing. If the case is major, I might do a little short brief. But, I mostly just plug in a summary to jog my memory and the rules extracted from the case. It only takes two or three sentences from the facts for me to remember the case. Lecture notes on the rules and variables of the case go under my summary and I'm done. I no longer rely on a brief to survive the Socratic interrogation. Discrete highlighting and some margin notes work just fine. The key is understanding how the court got from point A to point B.

And instead of heading straight to whatever authority I can find to support my memo I'm taking the time to really understand the the evolving law pertaining to the issue. It's a painstaking process reading from secondary sources and slowly narrowing my research, but I know I'll have a thorough understanding when I'm done and my writing will be much more concise.