Law School Discussion

Law Profs, the Great Mystery & Commercial Outlines


Law Profs, the Great Mystery & Commercial Outlines
« on: January 25, 2007, 08:58:14 AM »
During January I ask first semester law students who have taken Legal Writing Prep the following question:

What should professors have told you about law school in the first month of law school that would have helped?

One student provided a great response in favor of commercial outlines; so good I thought it should be shared with all entering law students. She responded as follows:

I would love it, if instead of gradually revealing the content of the course (as if it were prophesy), professors would recommend an outline (commercial or their own) and say, "Here is the roadmap. This is not the whole truth -- in fact there is no 'truth' -- however, it gives you an idea of landmarks to watch for. The cases and my lectures will fill in the details -- though not, I'm afraid the answers, for there are none. Learn this outline as soon as possible."

Instead I listened to the profs, who to a person said "Don't use commercial outlines. They won't help. You have to make your own." So when it came time to study for exams I had a class outline/class summary, but very little black letter law as a frame of reference. I knew the details extremely well, but I could not apply them to expansive practice problems because the professors had done little to relate the details to each other! Only in the last month before exams did I turn to an outline to get the big picture. By that time, it was a furious and exhausting game of catch up.

I have to add a plug for Prof Glannon's Civil Procedure examples and explanations. There are at least 60 in my class who relied on his book as a bible! Some even sent him thank you cards.

Below is a link to another student's comments in favor of commercial outlines.

Good luck in law school!

Michael Santana