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Author Topic: Laptop or pen and paper? What do you do and why?  (Read 3423 times)

bill83

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Laptop or pen and paper? What do you do and why?
« on: June 25, 2007, 06:31:12 PM »
I have mixed feelings about this. My friend is on law review and says that 90% of the people on law review use old school note taking techniques at his school. What do you think is best?

Thanks,
0L

Strong

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Re: Laptop or pen and paper? What do you do and why?
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2007, 06:42:40 PM »
I think the best is whichever one you decide to use.

lawmama09

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Re: Laptop or pen and paper? What do you do and why?
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2007, 08:29:56 PM »
I am old school and use pen and paper, but I'm also older and didn't have a laptop in college, unlike a lot of my classmates, so it's more familar/comfortable for me. Also we have wireless internet access in our classroom and I am just not disciplined enough not to IM or check email if I have my laptop on. I know from looking around that half my class plays solitaire or surfs the Internet during class. By forcing myself to take notes by hand I find myself really focusing on what the professor says and being more engaged in the discussion.

In general, you will find out what works for you. If you used a laptop to take notes successfully in undergrad, you might have no problems using it in law school. You can always try each for a while and see what feels better and keeps you focused. It doesn't matter how you take notes, it matters that you stay engaged in the class.

For the record, I am very close to the top of my class and will probably grade onto Law Review. I'm not sure how much of it has to do with my note-taking method though.

GuysRea

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Re: Laptop or pen and paper? What do you do and why?
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2007, 09:10:18 PM »
I am old school and use pen and paper, but I'm also older and didn't have a laptop in college, unlike a lot of my classmates, so it's more familar/comfortable for me. Also we have wireless internet access in our classroom and I am just not disciplined enough not to IM or check email if I have my laptop on. I know from looking around that half my class plays solitaire or surfs the Internet during class. By forcing myself to take notes by hand I find myself really focusing on what the professor says and being more engaged in the discussion.


I was in a somewhat similar situation to Lawmama. I graduated undergrad in 2002 and just wrapped up my first year at a T4. I was a bit apprehensive about using a laptop in class. I found that 1L orientation in August was a great opportunity to test out the laptop for notetaking. If your school does not do substantive classes during orientation, use your first few days of class as your test run.

In terms of the discipline required to not check email, surf the web, etc - that is entirely up to you. Using a laptop was great because I was able to copy and paste from various sources when I constructed my outlines/briefed cases/took notes in class.

Arguably, the best reason for using a laptop in class is to get used to it before taking your finals.

BTW, in the ultra-competitive environment that is law school, there is nothing wrong with other students being distracted by their laptops in class. Just make sure you do not fall into that trap.

amoebalaw

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Re: Laptop or pen and paper? What do you do and why?
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2007, 09:22:35 PM »
For what it's worth, more than one of my professors mentioned how much they hated looking up and seeing a bunch of laptops instead of students' faces. A lot of students hide behind their computers, and even if/when they do speak, they talk down into their computer and are difficult to hear.

I took notes by hand, did all my outlines and exams on computer, and felt just fine -- no trouble making a transition.

YeShallBeGods

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Re: Laptop or pen and paper? What do you do and why?
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2007, 09:24:54 PM »
I took notes entirely by hand my first semester--so many of my peers were horribly distracted by IM, online games, and such during class. I did not want to fall into the same trap. Second semester, I took notes via laptop, but had the discipline to next let myself get too distracted... and my grades were even better this go around. It's really personal preference, and knowing your strengths and weaknesses.

nbf

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Re: Laptop or pen and paper? What do you do and why?
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2007, 09:30:46 PM »
I took notes by hand for the first half of the 1st semester, then switched to my laptop.  Here's why:

1) I can type much faster than I can handwrite
2) Easier to copy/paste my notes into my outline, particularly if you strive to take your notes in an outline form
3) Finally, distractions! Lawschool is BORING! Lawschool classes are about as interesting as watching paint dry, I think I'd go insane without being to surf the net during lectures. 

I think the number of people handwriting notes in my section was down to the single digits by Christmas

brightline

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Re: Laptop or pen and paper? What do you do and why?
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2007, 12:18:25 AM »
I like using the laptop to take notes, but I usually make notes in my book or in my statutory supplement / restatement supplement by hand along with the laptop notes.

Reasons:

-much easier to make into an outline later

-faster, easier to read than my sloppy handwriting

-some profs at my school also put up power point slides in word format on the web with a rough sketch of what's going to be covered in class. These are great for taking notes into and save a LOT of typing / writing in some classes.

If the internet distracts you in class, you can always disable it.

I also typed my exams, which I highly recommend because:

-easier for the prof to read

-can look more organized

-easier to correct mistakes without looking sloppy.

-easier to edit after you are done or while you are typing.

Some students will say: well, no one ever finishing exams early. I say: yes they do. If you know what you are doing you can finish 10-20 minutes early on a long essay exam and have time to check your work and edit your essay.

jd4me2010

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Re: Laptop or pen and paper? What do you do and why?
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2007, 12:33:46 AM »
Umm... for all of you who play solitare or search the web during class - THANK YOU for making it easier for me to be in the top 10% of my class! There is no way I would be paying all of this money for a legal education to waste a second of it.

It depends on the class for me. If it's a heavy notetaking class, I use my laptop. If the prof. is more interactive, I sometimes take notes by hand and transfer them to the laptop later. Come exam time, there is NO WAY that I would handwrite. I type 120 words/minute and I can get double or triple the info down vs. someone who is handwriting.

But hey, don't listen. I like being in the top of the class. ;D


jacy85

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Re: Laptop or pen and paper? What do you do and why?
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2007, 07:33:08 AM »
Umm... for all of you who play solitare or search the web during class - THANK YOU for making it easier for me to be in the top 10% of my class! There is no way I would be paying all of this money for a legal education to waste a second of it.

It depends on the class for me. If it's a heavy notetaking class, I use my laptop. If the prof. is more interactive, I sometimes take notes by hand and transfer them to the laptop later. Come exam time, there is NO WAY that I would handwrite. I type 120 words/minute and I can get double or triple the info down vs. someone who is handwriting.

But hey, don't listen. I like being in the top of the class. ;D



Don't assume you're at the top because people play solitare.  I am near the top of my class, and I play solitare or something almost all the time in class.  If I put the time in to prep for class, there is very, very little said that I don't already have in my notes.  If I didn't do something else during class, I'd fall asleep.

As for which to do, it depends.  I prefer my laptop (obviously), but mostly because I can take good notes from the reading, and simply add in any notes from class.  I have a lot of friends that don't put as much (or hardly any) effort into class prep.  Sometimes they don't even really read, and usually if they do, they don't take very many notes.  For them, class time is much more important.  A few of them have said they prefer handwriting b/c it forces them to pay attention in class.